A Trip of a Lifetime

Many people in North America were excited about Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States. But the most excited of all may have been a family of six from his home country, Argentina.

At the beginning of 2015, parents Noel Zemborain and Catire Walker learned that the Pope would speak at a conference of families in Philadelphia in September. They decided to take their four children, ranging in age from 3 to 12, to the conference. Families who travel that route typically book a ten hour flight. But this family quit their jobs, enrolled the children in online schools, and bought a 35 year old Volkswagen van, often referred to as a kombi. They took six months to make the trip, and traveled 20,921km/13,000 mi.

“America en Familia” drove through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and the southern United States, blogging  about their adventures. While the kombi — named “Francisca” — broke down many times, the family found a great deal of hospitality and encouragement along the way. They arrived in time for the Pope’s visit and the conference.

This past Sunday morning, the family was summoned to the St. Charles Borromeo seminary in Philadelphia, where they discovered that Pope Francis himself was among the 100,000 people who had followed their journey online. While meeting the Pope was the high point of the six month endeavor, there were many sights and people along the way that made it worthwhile.


After visiting the northeastern United States, Zemborain, Walker and their children will fly home to Buenos Aires. Francisca will return to Buenos Aires, too — with Zemborain’s brother behind the wheel.

You can read more about the journey on their blog , and on Facebook. To read about their audience with the Pope, visit this CNN article.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, International Product Manager, Living Abroad