New Zealand Truck


So here we are, still, hanging out with patient Al and Anita.  They keep assuring us we are not wearing out our welcome but we are not sure if they are just being nice.  We are working on our truck through the New Zealand winter.  Maybe not the smartest.  Right now as the wind is howling and the rain is pelting the outside of the truck I sit here at the computer and write this post.  The drydock do-over of the truck is infectious and when we aren’t working on the truck we might be working on the website.  We hope to take some nice photos before we load her on the ship to send her back to Europe/Africa.  We will post them and you can oooooh and aaaaaah at how pretty she looks and you might even say, “thank God they finally learned how to do that bit right.

Living New Zealand Truck

Keeping food cold – off grid

We have been Finally getting some work done on the truck.  You know, trying again to take care of the essentials. We figure why not giving keeping food cool or cold another shot.  I am happy to say that we have made strides in this area.  As you know, we have chosen to live off grid with solar, and some gas bottles. Not as earth friendly as we want but some steps in the right direction. A huge problem for us is keeping our food from spoiling. I am now pleased to say that for the first time since we have gotten our truck we have a working system in which our food doesnt go bad faster than we think it should.. I have done heaps of research and still doing more but here is what I have come up with, so far.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Pantry [/nzs_heading] Keep in mind that this is in the kitchen cabinet and not in the sun. Following the advice of Beth who has traveled the world in a boat without refrigeration, in addition to the normal non-refrigerated items I keep jam and sauces, including mayo out of the fridge. My sauces, especially mayo, are in squeeze bottles to keep from contamination, which causes spoilage. Following the advice of an apauled frenchman, i buy aged real cheese and take it out of the plastic and wrap it in a clean cloth and put it on the shelf. My eggs are also here. my onions, garlic, citrus and kiwi fruit are also here.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] windowsill [/nzs_heading] Many things can be seen sprouting from my windowsills. Including a head of lettuce or spinach that I find with the roots somewhat in tact. I put it in a flowerpot with water instead of soil. The leaves keep fresh longer and they are handy for grazing when we get the munchies.saladbr

 [nzs_heading heading=”3″] Cool box [/nzs_heading]Following the example of the Romany (Gypsies), I keep a cool box in the floor of the centre of my truck. this place is surprisingly cool and dark and has ventilation. I keep extra butter in here, on a small shelf, with my fruit and veg. i take care to keep foods separate that will cause the other to ripen faster. i keep potatoes here but not onions. i keep apples here but not kiwi fruit.
[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Fridge [/nzs_heading]You can probably tell that by this point, we dont need a big fridge. We have a 45 litre three way chest fridge that I keep in a bench seat with good ventilation going to the outside of the truck. We need to fill the gas bottle once a month. All we need in here is milk, yogurt, soft cheeses and meat. We run this fridge off gas after figuring out that to run a fridge off solar we would probably need a way more expensive fridge. A small chest fridge is good because it doesnt use as much gas. We scored this one quite cheap but if it dies we plan on replacing it with our own version of a “Coolgardie Safe”, which celebrares Australian inginuity, that doesnt use gas or electricity.


[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Crab pot [/nzs_heading]pot. We do have a collapsing crab pot that we drop in the water to cool drinks more than carching crustacians. Have you noticed that I have not mentioned cold drinks before? Over the years we have become accustomed to cool drinks rather than cold ones because we have been outside the states.

Next.[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Next? [/nzs_heading]I am thinking we will never get an expensive fridge. It just isnt a priority. A higher priority for us is figuring out how to keep more food out of the fridge. Salted fish, time to go fishing again, and hanging sausages are some of the next foods we want to try. We may even try potted meats.

New Zealand Truck

New Zealand welcomes Maggie

We have had a stream of people come and visit us and our truck. Some of them have supported Maggie’s efforts in international development in over 30 countries. Some have read the stories and followed the blog. And now they get to actually see it. Very exciting.

This morning we received this instagram from someone who built their own version. Thanks Tobite!

Welcome magirus to new zealand

Travel Truck

A Family Friendly Motorhome

This post was highlighted on Families on the Road. We are reposting it here.


Most RV’s cater for a retired couple and their dog. We, on the other hand, are a family of 7 including Mum, her 6 foot 6 inch husband who needs a custom bed (that’s me) and five kids who all need beds and a place to stash their stuff. And who wants to travel around the world in an RV unless they can bring their own bike?

Already you can see that most RV’s are woefully insufficient. Not big enough. Not strong enough. Not fun enough.

We were fortunate to find a big, strong, 4×4 truck with an empty box awaiting our design. It was a lot of work but the kids are happy with the result.

These are the 5 best modifications we made to our RV to make it family friendly:

1. An outdoor kitchen. Our main kitchen is located in a big steel container outside the RV with a hinged door. Huge gas burners for some serious flamage and big pots to cook for the kids and their friends. Plenty of space outside for everyone to cook and eat.



3. Storage boxes underneath the truck to store the inflatable kayak, tennis rackets, extra tents, art supplies, etc.




What’s a family-friendly RV without a slide coming down from the roof?

This post is part of the May Blog Carnival on Families on the Road. Check out the others.


Our Beautiful, New Bookshelf is complete

When you are traveling renovations are a celebration of a beautiful symphony of time, money and resources playing together.. You can’t say, ” Hey, I think I will make a bookshelf today so I will go to my neighbourhood builders supply, hang out with some fellow builder amateurs and make my beautiful shelf.” No, it just doesn’t happen that way when you are traveling.

Here is how it happened for us.

We established our need – we have books. our particle board shelves are falling off the wall and it all looks cluttery.

We drew or design – aaah a bit of style.

Then, we decide to build.

It is now over a month ago now. While we were in Germany Andrew was gone for a week so I filled up my time with deconstructing our disintegrating old shelves and start building new ones. I got as far as a “shelf skeleton” and secured the books with “plumbers tape” so my kids wouldn’t be showered with books on their next journey. Now, just to let you know, plumbers tape and duct tape are diy motorhome essentials.

Now, shortly after, we started heading for a land where builders’s supply stores took on a new look. One that was hard to identify where to buy a nice sheet of ply to finish off the job. So…. last week I just about jumped out of the truck when I saw a “pile of ply” next to the road. A few days later, Me and Abi took a nice trip on the bus and had some beautiful ply delivered to our camping ground.

After very careful measuring over and over by the families old dislecsic, me, and lots of noise which annoyed little old men with their afternoon game of “Okay”. Taking a break to offer Turkish delight to the old men with their afternoon game in order to go with their cup of apple tea. Our masterpiece is complete. Well, not quite a masterpiece, but we like it.


New Tank and happenings in Aourir

Projected Lawrence of Arabia on the cement wall next to the truck on Friday night. Karim made a fire for us to cook our pizzas on a stick. Most of the people here at the garage came over to enjoy the movie with us. We all watched the movie until the power cut almost at the end of the movie. Wonder if we caused the power cut with our projector? Naw, can one projector cause a power cut for a whole village?

Some great neighbours from France with a great truck – all wood inside. Reminds me of a log cabin. Owners of the dog with the funny smile.

Other french neighbours. They have only had their truck for 8 months and look what they have done! It is like a small apartment. They have a full-size cooker (btw if you travel with a full-size cooker travel with an old one – they last better – I have heard), a bedroom with a real door, a RECORDING STUDIO!

And the back opens to a garage and a back patio. We are SOOO impressed!

Andrew is softening on the dog front. Figures a dog might be good for security. We have been talking to some other travelers and they said it is no problem to bring back a stray dog from Morocco. We just need to get a rabies vaccine, a computer chip and a doggie passport. Ireland and Switzerland have a blood test required as well to show the vaccine is working. So, Alana and Abi found a stray at the Souk that they appropriately named “Soukie” that they thought would be a candidate. Andrew went out to meet the dog and thought he was a possibility. “Just bring her in to the yard and we’ll see how she gets on”. Sounds easy huh.

Maybe some fish heads would bring him in.

After what seemed like FOREVER of coaxing the girls returned to the truck exhausted and with no dog. Maybe Soukie isn’t the dog for us afterall.

TJ has been collecting animal bones. Hannah thinks they are gross and scary so TJ only brings them out to show to whoever she can whenever Hannah isn’t around. After looking at each bone thoroughly and discussing where it could come from Hassan put together this face with the bones. A true innovative mechanic putting things together in unexpected and bizarre ways. He must have been an interesting child to have around when he was a boy.

One of the men working on our truck is a very nice young man who has a serious crush on Abi. In the photo he is the barefoot one on the right. Alana says it is just like the movies. She and Abi were walking past him and he swooned. You know a lingering look, a smile and a full body sigh. This happens every time he sees her. Just like the movies.

We had a whole lot of men working on the truck yesterday. The diesel tank is here. The 2 tanks are side by side in the photo. We have more than quadrupled our diesel capacity.

Andrew was trying to describe 3 point torsion-free mounting so they wouldnt put the tank in too high. You see, where the cab and the cabin of our truck meet they move independently as they are only connected at one point in the front. They sort of pivot on each other. So the cab and the chassis (underneath the cabin) tilt one way and the cabin stays straight. It makes it so we don’t stress the box on rough roads. Took me a while to understand. To try to get his point across to a bunch of unbelieving mechanics Andrew jacked up the right front tire of the truck to show how much smaller the space gets above the petrol tank. They got it and put the tank in the lowest position.

So, Andrew is a very happy man. After a full day he finished off the day painting his new tank with orange primer. I went out to see him laying under the propped up tank slowly and affectionately finishing off the painting as the sunset behind him. You see, men do get emotional – just about completely different things than us. At the end of the day Andrew crashed. Happy, tired man.

Morocco Truck

Truck parts at Ait Melloul

Andrew here. I spent yesterday scouring the truck yards at Ait Melloul, not far from the Agadir airport in Morocco. Its an amazing place. I didn’t buy anything but I might return for a bigger diesel tank.


Its really worth a visit, even if you dont need any parts for your car or truck.


Morocco Truck

Problems with solar panels

Solar problem in the Sahara?. Our brand new Tenesol TE2000 solar panels were underperforming, giving only 27.4 open circuit volts instead of 33, which wasn’t enough to charge up our system. Even in the Sahara where sun is never a scarce commodity. And solar is important to us because we keep Abigail’s insulin in our fridge to control her diabetes and no fridge means no insulin which means no more Sahara. Time to go north anyway. We had a technician contact Tenesol but they have not been able to help us yet.

Quick fix? I wired the panels in series rather than parallel (technicians suggestion). That doubles our voltage which I hope our system will handle, and it gives us the load amps of a single panel. If anyone out there thinks this is a crazy solution, please let me know.

Morocco Truck

Solar and Angel Wings

So, here we are. Still in Morocco, actually still at Hassan’s. Not the Aourir Hassan but the south of Gouilmim Hassan (sorry the spelling keeps changing but this is a multi-spelling town that I cant be bothered to have a consistency of influences for my spelling – by the way thank you for reading my spelling disclaimer).

It is hard to leave a place when the hospitality is so full and rich. With a great big smile Hassan will say time and time again, “It is your home. You are at home here”. You just gotta love the Moroccan hospitality!

Really enjoying having a dongle, by the way, having this handy, dandy little maroc telecom appendage that enables internet access and me to keep blogging, even in the most isolated corners of our journey in the south of Morocco – who knows why it took us so long to pay the money to get one. The only problem we can see with it is that it is selective on what it will talk to on the internet. The only major inconvenience is it istruggling with google, gmail, youtube, and totally BLOCKING blogspot which is annoying to say the least. Sorry Kerstin and Barbara (with blogspot blogs) and other friends. I have been trying to take a look at what you are up to but have been unable. Also, Barbara, if you are reading this some friends might be coming your direction as we have been telling them wonderful things about you. Another note on dongles. You have to show your passport to buy your own personal tracking device, ooops internet dongle. DUDE!

Hassan has gone into town with me and Sergio for the last couple of days looking at cloth. Bless him, I think we are exhausting him. Hassan is great. He seems to know half of the men in Gouilmim. As we walk down the street we keep hearing his name yelled from shops, moving cars and passers by. Of course these are met with kisses and handshakes and a few words. I love seeing this. I love seeing the affection between men here as well. It is not unusual to see 2 men embracing, kissing cheeks, arms around each other or holding hands as 2 good friends.
Poor Sergio with his list of 20 things to get done today. Nothing seems to bother him. He just keeps opening up his little folder, looking at his list, no ticks yet, smiles, shrugs his shoulders and gives me a hug while we hear another “Hassan” from another friend of his from down the street. Now, back to the cloth. If you know me you know I am in heaven. I want to make stuff to give away and perhaps, if I can get my act together enough I might even make some extra stuff . I have been having images of making colourful angel wings and frilly skirts/tutus, halos. To me the best treasure chest would be one filled with colourful cloth and beads and wool just waiting to be transformed by a small group of men and women into strange and wonderful expressions of individuality. Oh the strange things that dance through my head.

The fabrics that the women wear draped around them, that btw miraculously stay in place through the gales, is an unusual mix of tie dye and a little old ladies apron. Heck I can’t even get my neck scarf to withstand gravity without declaring mutiny every 5 minutes much less an entire body covering in the Saharan winds. I tell you, if I were to decide to wear one of those body wrap fabric things it would not help me appear more modest but would make me into a flasher. We will go in again today to finish our buying before Sergio and Pavla head off for the raw-food rainbow somewhere in Spain.


Andrew, in the meantime, is not having as much fun as me as he is working on the solar with Melchior. Roadtesting our 2 Tenesol T2000 solar panels. We kinda expected having 2 impressively huge solar panels on our roof would have given us enough power to run our little fridge or maybe even charge up a couple of laptops in the Saharan sun. Dang maybe we should have bought the Sharpe ones. Maybe these German solar panels that we bought in Morocco weren’t such a great deal after all. We’ll see, we are in touch with the manufacturer. We’ll keep you posted. Hope we can work it all out. Well, as we always say, it helps to have a friend who is really smart and just happens to be a dutch geek with way too much higher education to help with your solar energy when you get into trouble.

Morocco Truck

Installing a pop-up roof on Maggie


We have been waiting until we got to Africa to open up our roof so that we can sleep on top. Its been a little cramped with 9 people living in this truck and the roof top area will greatly increase the square footage by about two thirds. And not having air conditioning means that any ventilation we can find will make life much more comfortable in hot climates.

And the fully collapsible roof space will give us plenty more space for everyone to sleep. We are putting some rails on the roof so people dont fall off. We can also tie some spare wheels and stuff on the roof if we need to..


We are also getting some rust removed from the truck and some things that fell off are getting wielded back on. While the work is being done, the mechanic is letting us stay in this little shanty, along with some other travellers and young hippies who are camping out with us. It doesn’t leak very much at all – just in a few places but nothing that some strategically positioned saucepans dont take care of. The place is buzzing with people. New travellers turn up each day. Yesterday a group of Lithuanians walking across Africa turned up and we all ate together. Very cool.