Valentina Cappio from The Family Company; Exploring Mikael Strandberg in 10 questions

Valentina Cappio from The Family Company; Exploring Mikael Strandberg in 10 questions

By Valentina Cappio, The Family Company, a website for adventurous families

There are people that keep your feet well down to earth. And other people that just make you dream, that make you fly away even if you stand still. Mikael Strandberg definitely belongs to the second group. Swedish, 50 years old, married to “the most fantastic woman on earth” (as he describes his wife) and very proud father of Eva – who is 19 months old and has already visited 9 countries… No doubt, she’s been following his dad’s path!

In fact, Mike has been defined as the Best Contemporary Explorer in the World by the British Explorers Club and voted Explorer Hero by the National Geographic in 2002. Perhaps because he has travelled over 112 coutries, slept more than 2.500 nights in a tent, cycled for over 160.000 km, from Chile to Alaska, from Norway to South Africa, from New Zeland to Cairo. Or maybe because he has explored Patagonia by horse and walked through Maasailand in Eastern Africa, exploring all clans of the Maasai people. Or perhaps because he has explored the unknown Kolyma River in North-Eastern Siberia: 3500 km by canoe and by skis. An Expedition which is globally hailed as one of the coldest ever in the history of exploration.

Photo Courtesy of Jegor Makarov

More probably, because the best explorer is someone who wanders between the folds of life every moment. Not only while travelling.  And Mike does so. More probably because the best explorer is able to accept joy and sorrow equally, and considers both as life pillars, since they both tell you that you are alive. And Mike has always done so. When he was 7, he was rescued on a ferry from Sweden to England, while hanging outside of the ship, ten metres up from the deadly sea. When he was asked why, as they saw it, he was trying to kill himself, he answered: “I just had to see what it was like on the other side.”

I have met him by chance on the Web. I just got fascinated by a picture that Mike has taken of his daughter in Yakutia, at – 40 degrees. I got impressed by the determination on her face. And maybe I have just seen myself reflected in that face. I then looked for Mike on Facebook and proposed him this interview. Just looking at one picture, I knew that this man could offer us a vision. A way to look at the world  that every single person on earth should try at least once.

So, it is with great pleasure and with endless gratitude, that I am about to introduce you… Mikael Strandberg.

1) Mike, I read all in one breath what you wrote about yourself on your website. An impressive life. You have had your ups and downs, you’ve seen the world, met people, lived a truly fully life. In one sentence, who is Mikael?

A simple human being who treats each day as it would be his last and who loves his daughter and wife more than anything!

2) What does travelling mean to you?

I need to travel to feel alive, to feel appreciated, to understand, get a perspective and to feel that I add each time another piece to the puzzle of understanding the meaning of life. As quick as I get to an airport I feel elevated!

3) The destination you will always bring in your heart?

The Kolyma River in Siberia*.

4) And the one you haven’t seen yet but that you do not want to miss?

Greenland.

5) Why should families travel?

Well, we started travelling with Eva when she was only two months old. We went to a cultural festival in Segovia, and we immediately realized that, compared to my earlier travels, many new doors to people lifes were open. Most people love children and become so much warmer and hospitable. Eva´s been to 9 countries now and the same has applied everywhere. Doors open. If we take Yemen for example, where we spent 3 months, we immediately saw how well people reacted to her.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npFYRdmd-VA?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

And Pamela, my wife, she did her master here on female spacies within islam and Eva opened doors for her everywhere! For Eva herself, she grows, gets more knowledge, trust and loves people more, gets less shy. For example, when we came back from Yemen, they said at day care that she was like a new kid. Before the expedition, she was very quite and scared of the big boys; but after Yemen, where she experienced a rougher life and mortars exploding, she was so independent, tough and stood her ground even against the biggest boys! She has developed into a very special girl and she is more like a boy than a girl. In Siberia they all thought she was a boy due to her behaviour!

6)  Your daughter Eva is 19 months old but she has already visited 9 countries. At what age did she start travelling? And where have you been??

As I said earlier, she started travelling when she was 2 months old. With Eva, we have been to Spain, Poland, Denmark, England, Ireland, Dubai, Yemen, Russia and Turkey.

7) When you talk about your daughter, you say she is a miracle. Maybe because she represents your true journey, the one that has finally taken you back “home”?

Well, when it comes to my main goal of travelling, which is trying to understand the meaning of life and where the humans fit in, I did realize early in my travels that there were major gaps and obstacles in this quest, because I couldn´t get close to children or feel comfortable with them or understand family life. Now of course, that I have a daughter and one more child on the way, a great wife (who I met in Yemen when I was fed up with life and thought I would never get children, a long time dream of mine, and than a few months later she was pregnant and the biggest journey of all had started! I am 50 now….but I see no problems with that, on the contrary) and family life completely dominates life, I have understood that a large part of understanding the meaning of life is having children and everything which comes with that. Deep love, (the love for one´s child is so strong it cannot be understood until you have a child) major worries, responsibilities, opportunities, great fun and despair, all in one! I had understood that earlier from the aspect of procreation, but not from the emotional aspect. Eva is definitely a big part of the journey. But you never know with life, things happen and you have to re-arrange all of your life.

8) If there was only one lesson that you could pass on to your daughter, which one would it be?

Just go for it, girl! Take your chances, life is too short not to live to its fullest.

9) In 20 years time, Eva will be…

…asking her father for advice on how to be the first woman and human in history to circumnavigate the whole polar region by reindeer!

10) And in 20 years time, Mike will be…

….giving her that exact advice, but telling her: Don´t forget to take care of your father now!

Thank you Mikael. Thanks for sharing your vision with us . And who knows? Maybe oneday we will meet in person, perhaps during one of your expeditions. A family-friendly one, of course. Let’s go for it!

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More on Mikael:

Valentina Cappio with her two lovely kids!

Valentina Cappio is a well known traveler and blogger who has a great site inspiring families to bring their kids on adventure!

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2 Comments for this entry

  1. Mikael,
    There just aren’t words great enough to describe the inspiration you envoke in others and those around you. One can only imagine “Life Through the Brain of Makael Strandberg” how truly amazing your contributions to this world are.. I commend you, respect you and look forward to
    working with you..

  2. Valentina says:

    Mikael, many many thanks for this interview. It has been an honour and a real pleasure. I do hope that it will be of inspiration to many families and children around the world. Come on, everybody, let’s go out and explore!

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