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Life is crazy! The tide smashes even the best-laid plans to sand… and so it goes!
This is a story about two people, who met by chance, were bound by fate and who continue to let the quirky side of life guide their paths! How else could a young man from a tiny town in Albania and a farm girl from the mountains of Montana meet in the middle, with a life guided by adventure?
We met in Rome. Engjell was a waiter in a little Roman restaurant down by Trevi Fountain and I was a student abroad, spending a year in the Eternal City. There are some pretty cheesy movies about the giggly American girl meeting the handsome foreigner abroad, who then spend all their time bombing around ancient ruins on a shiny moped, hair blowing in the wind and smiles from ear to ear. And yet… serendipity delivers! We did fall in love and he did have a moped…
In 2006, we moved back to the United States. We returned as a family of three, as little Fiona had been born in Rome at FateBeneFratelli, the hospital on an island… where all the Roman babies have been born for centuries! We moved often, looking for the perfect place. In 2010, we found an opportunity to open our own restaurant in Bigfork, Montana. We spent seven years and thousands of hours bringing the flavors of Italy to rural Montana. We were doing well! We were successful and busy and had finally bought our own home… we had a mortgage and car payments and a full-time, ultra-demanding job! We opened a second restaurant! We even added two more family members with the addition of Hugo and Remy!
We were living the dream! Or were we? On the outside, it looked like we had it all… that success had reached out its hand and we had graciously accepted. But in reality, we were working 80-100 hours each per week, we rarely saw our three beautiful kids who knew the nanny better than they did us, and we were burned out… from too much work, from too little time spent together as a family, from life! We had bought into the well-oiled idea of success and were realizing quickly the fatal flaws in our plan.
So we decided, together, to give it all up! We took the giant, terrifying, leap and sold it all to travel on a shoestring budget and let life teach us again, teach us anew, of what it looks like to be a successful human being! We are just beginning on this wonderful adventure! We have been traveling the U.S. for a year as a family in a motorhome. We are every day astounded by the diversity and creativity of both humans and Mother Nature. In July, we will set off for a one year trip around the world!
This time, too, food and wine lead our adventure. We hope to dig deep into every culture as we go, unearthing culinary tradition everywhere we go! We plan to travel to places where we can stage and work in restaurants and vineyards to learn more and to ultimately be able to take what we have learned and start fresh…inspired, changed… wherever we end up.
This trip is about re-defining success! It is about food and wine…about a plate of pasta or a shared bottle of wine, about experiences! It is about family and figuring out how we all fit together and what life’s REAL plan for us is! We invite you to join us in this crazy adventure as we travel the world!
Engjell, Kaleigh, Fiona, Hugo and Remy