After a few wonderful years in New Zealand we have departed. We boarded our truck onto a container ship bound for Europe and we make our way back to Europe through the U.S.A. We should reunite with our truck in December. Realizing that the one thing about having a stationary ‘home’ is that you miss it. Badly. Dang, didn’t see that one coming. Good-bye New Zealand. Good-bye lovely anarchist friends. See you in a few years when we come to visit or sooner if you come to visit us.
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.
I would like to tell you a bit about where we are staying right now. We are staying with Al and Anita in a small beach town in New Zealand. They have 5 acres on the edge of the poorer part of their town. If there is a crime in this town, this is where the police go first. Al and Anita live in a housebus on their land. The toilets are outdoor and composting with buckets to empty. The shower is outside, the firebath is warmer or too hot when a fire is made. They have their bus, an extra housebus, a caravan, a couple of shipping containers connected by a roof, a small shed, a garage and our truck on the land. They make the housebus, caravan and shed available to whoever needs a place to live. The only legal structure on the site is the garage. Nobody complains about loud music or housebuses in this neighbourhood because nobody cares about their “property values”.
We love staying here. We can work on our truck and make a mess while we are doing it. Since we have been here we have ripped off part of our roof and Al helped us weld on a roof rim that won’t let the rain in. Lovely Al, motorbike riding, loud rock music playing, tattooed and bearded wildman that literally wouldn’t hurt a fly, opens his garage for some neighbours to fix their motorbikes and never questions giving generously. What an amazing man filled with generosity and love without judgement, without reserve.
Anita collects and shares. Lovely Anita who loves her neighbours without reserve in her own, more hippie, way. She won’t even kill a mouse who keeps her awake at night, while I buy small black traps that resemble tiny sharks to trap my unwanted pets. Who lets the spiders spin their webs in the corners of her home undisturbed. She has friends who have food to give away. She collects it and gives it out to others who need it and those who know others who need food so everyone knows the joy of giving. There is leftover bread and cakes from the cafe, produce and meat from the organic grocery, apples and limes and walnuts from local farmers, fejoas from a neighbour. All is here, literally spread out on a table of plenty under the shelter between the two containers for all to share in. You need milk? There is a cow that needs milking, just sign up for a day to milk the cow and share in the table of plenty. As you drink your tea at the table in the sun the dog and the cat and the chicken and the pig wander around your feet. On another day local women and children gather to felt hats from the wool of the sheep in the paddock. Another day we are making soap, or cheese. Anita and her nephew are drying apples in her dehydrator or juicing some overipe fruit. Anita teaches and shares, gives from her table of plenty for all to enjoy without agenda, without judgement, there is abundance. Not much money seems to move around as this place appears to mainly be run on love and a gift economy. Many would consider Anita a freegan as she can’t remember when she last bought food from a grocery store. When we think about needing beets for dying wool we don’t go to the shops she thinks about planting some in the garden. What an amazing woman filled with generosity and love without judgement, without reserve.
Al and Anita think they are just normal people doing what anyone would do. Imagine a world in which they were just normal people. Where everyone gave like this. Thank you, Al and Anita you have blessed us beyond measure. You have fed our bodies and our hearts. You have given us refuge and love. We are grateful.
The family has now dispersed just a little bit more. We came into Wellington three weeks ago to send off another young adult of ours to the other side of the world. Lizzy flew away on Easter Sunday to go to Texas. In Texas she will go to the wedding reception of a very dear friend, Jessica and hang out with her brother, Sam and his wife, Jenna. The plan is that she stays in the states for a month and then comes back downunder to go to patisserie school in Melbourne, Australia. The school starts in July so there is plenty f time for diversions. I am privy to information that Sam and Jenna have plans to lure her into spending more time with them in Texas.
Very proud of our lovely oldest daughter but very sad to say goodbye at the airport. Unsure when the family will all be on the same continent.
This is definitely the greatest sorrow of having a nomadic family.
Sometimes you look and see a great time unfolding for your roadschooled/worldschooled child and can’t help smile right down to your soul. Last weekend was such a weekend for TJ.
It started by finding some Conservation Zoologists modifying nesting boxes for the small blue penguins while wild camping around the edges of Wellington. TJ took off for the morning to replace penguin boxes and do some research to find places to put new ones. The penguin boxes are needed because of the city inhabitants taking over more of their native habitat not to mention an improved roadway to cross at night. The new penguin boxes had thermostats, improved ventilation and more secure braces to keep the roof from becoming dislodged.
TJ came home from her zoology outing with just enough time to pack her backpack and took a train to Waikanae. The next day she was climbing Mt Kapakapanui with Joyia, Lydia, Amanda and Laura. They spent the night in a hut with other trampers discussing the local shortage of marshmallows around the bonfire. They were lucky to score beds as the 6 bed hut had 20 trampers to house. Luckily some brought tents and others happily slept on the floor. The next morning they tramped down that mountain. (probably quite a bit easier than up on the previous day).
On Monday evening she was back at the truck exhausted but glowing and full of stories to tell her proud family. Well done TJ!!!
Back on the North Island of New Zealand just before TJs 12th birthday. Lizzy’s flatmates were all gone for the weekend and offered us the run of the flat, thanks guys. We also got to park the truck just 2 doors down at the Newtown Bowling Club. Excellent! You know, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to just ask. The 4 girls were planning the party long before we even got on the ferry. The theme was ‘Rise of the Brave, Tangled, Frozen Dragons’. Apparently it is a combined ‘fandom’ (fanatic domain). I know, I know. This is what whale a when you have a geek daughter (Gwennie). Such an education.
After our breakfast of waffles and strawberries and checking out ‘the boyfriend’ (Abi’s boyfriend) we wandered around Wellington in costume. The funny thing about doing this in Wellington is that people don’t seem to realise you are in costume. They just seem to think you are normally like this.
We rushed home from the town centre to get ready for the party. We were planning on throwing this party from the truck but Lizzys flatmates were all out and offered us the run of the flat for the weekend. To make things even better the Newtown Bowling Club, two doors down from lizzys flat, let us park in their lot. How great is that. You know, sometimes you just gotta ask. So, the flat filled up with big kids and little kids. We played games , ate sweets and blew out candles from the beautiful cake Lizzy made. One of those great days.
It looks like we are about ready to leave the South Island of New Zealand and head north again. As always there are more things that we would love to have done. That is for next time. Andrew has only a week and a half working the hop harvest while I have been woofing at Riverside Community. We figure that if I can’t work the harvest then at least I can help cut down our living expenses. I work in the garden and sew and cook in exchange for staying here, food from the garden and milk. It is my first “official” woofing experience. Although, I realise that there is not that much difference between wwoofing and the way we like to travel. We don’t like to be a burden and like to help out however we can. After all, it is the travellers way isn’t it?
We have had such a great time here. TJ is out on adventures all day. She has been learning circus skills, self defence, painting, drawing, shadow puppets and adventuring with friends. Gwennie/Hannah has been reading, drawing and hanging out with friends she met at the “library geeks club” she met last time here. Before we got here I was thinking that I miss being with global nomads and we have found them here among the wwoofers. I have also enjoyed wrestling with areas about permaculture, responsible living, alternative monetary systems and bees. We have been sharing food and life and sharing stories of adventure. We have been challenged and loved. What amazing people they have attracted here. It will be difficult to leave here.
We arrived in Motueka and pulled the truck onto a field at Riverside Community in Lower Motuere. Really nice people here. Riverside is probably the oldest intentional community in New Zealand, being started by Methodist pacifists in 1941 and now operating as a multi-faith community on 500+ acres.
Last weekend was the Riverside Music Festival. Apart from our family volunteering to help out (Debbie and TJ made icecream and served food, I cooked a vegan curry) we also managed to take a little video on the day . . . thus . . a short (2.5 minute video of festival highlights)
We are parked next to some awesome people including the very acrobatic Twisty Twinz and their husbands. Both families had their first babies within a few weeks of each other and they both have house trucks . .. so these are our neighbours.
I know you are cold. I know you probably have snow. I love snow. We love snow. I tell you it seems that most of the Christmas songs are about cold weather and snow. Here in the Southern Hemisphere it would be quite weird and probably a bit scary if we had snow on Christmas.
So, instead of snowball fights we will need to make do with water fights.
Some sadness when I was watching old friends greeting each other and thinking of my old friends on the other side of the world. Especially sad thinking about our son and daughter–in-law on the other side of the world. At least they are with my sisters and brother and mother. That is right, I rather miss them too. I miss them all, I miss you all.
Talking with some people that don’t celebrate Christmas. Makes me think about it. Do I think Christmas is a good holiday? Is it about Coca-cola? Is it about a good man that used to give gifts to orphans? Is there a bishop in there somewhere? Is it simply a materialistic buying frenzy to keep our struggling economies afloat? Is it about Winter Solstice? The shortest day of the year? The hope that the days will get longer. That the sun will return. I remember the first time my son saw a sunset. He cried, yes he really cried. He thought the sun had gone forever. He thought it would never come back. He thought we were doomed to live in darkness. I wonder if that was why there was the great celebration on the shortest day of the year? I wonder if they believed that their celebration, with all its hope, was responsible for bringing back the sun. Actually, seems like it might be quite an appropriate day for the Christians to have their celebration of hope right alongside. Hmmmmm. Am I going too far with this?
In our family, we try not to get carried away with the Christmas materialism. We haven’t the money or the space to waste. But we do love to give gifts. We love to receive them. We love to make those we love happy. Hard to avoid all the rubbish advertising likes to throw at us though, eh? In our family most of our gifts are hand crafted gifts of the heart. What fun. Another thing I think about is – what other holiday do you get the joy of giving and receiving gifts at the same time? Where the attention is not on one but on all. Lovely, isn’t it?
Weeks before Christmas Gwennie and I were sewing, Tamara was painting and Andrew was brewing down in Waipara while Lizzy was cooking and Abi was discovering in Wellington.
Days before Christmas the family gathered. The Fish were caught and smoked, more cooking, foraging and sewing. Friends came around.
So what did “Santa” leave you for Christmas. I bet it was nothing like what he left us. Andrew and I awoke to do our quick organization duty on Christmas morning. The kids try to pretend they are still sleeping so we can feel not quite so bad about sleeping in again. We noticed a special gift left by some stranger – no doubt a stranger that wears a warm red coat and hat . It was 5 dead bunnies waiting for our Christmas Dinner. OK, I know a bit strange but what did you expect – a new lounge suite?
Andrew had loads of fun delivering his Christmas Stout that he described as “Christmas in a bottle” and the Kahawai he and Abi caught, I cleaned and he smoked on the roof of our truck.
During the next two days the following gifts were also delivered to our truck – hand crocheted Christmas stars, bbq meat, bags of vegetables and fruit, a box full of bread, another box of juice, shrimp curry, homemade tomato sauce, fig truffles, mushroom fritters, homemade stuffing, homemade quince cordial, photos, bottles of wine and home-brew beer. Uuuuuh yeah!!!! Can you believe it. Of course, I am sure you know what the best gift of all is……
Even though we are strangers in a foreign land here (Yes, Andrew is a New Zealander but we are on the SOUTH Island and he is from the NORTH Island. Obviously, A HUGE difference)…Sorry to break that lovely train o thought…. where was I …. Oh, yeah….FRIENDSHIP… What a great gift!! I am sure that you must know by now that our greatest joy of travel is the amazing people we get to meet as we travel. Every one unique and beautiful in their own way. Each one sowing gifts in our hearts. Gifts of joy and beauty, hope and justice, wonder and celebration. We get the honour of calling way more than our fair share ‘friend’. Thank you for accepting and loving us as we are with all of our strange habits.
Thank you old friends for staying by our side in Spirit so many years.
Thank you new friends for the opportunity to see new beauty in the world through you and your lives.
We are rich beyond measure because of you.
We are not moving much these days. The vineyard has said that they don’t need me anymore. Andrew is still working there doing the more physically draining job of wire lifting. As the plants are not larger and taller the job requires someone with a bit of height as well as strength. Andrew loves it. He has a pedometer on his i-phone and clocks in 10-20 km a day walking around the vineyard.
We did move about a kilometer away where we are closer to the river, a swimming hole and homeschool friends. We can gather water right next to our truck. We can even park our car right next to our truck. You see, unlike most, our car is not 4 wheel drive but our home is. So, our home can go more places than our car can.This spot is much more popular. At the other spot we only had a few visitors over the month. Over here, we have daily visitors. Apparently this spot fills up over the summer with the beer-drinking quad bike crowd and a caravan did get burned up by some locals making merry last year. That is why we didn’t come here til I finished work so I could stay home with the kids.
There are wild plums and fennel growing everywhere and another tree with something that looks a bit like apples but might be persimmons. I have already made some plum butter. Yummy! I got sort of an ‘un-recipe’ for ‘self-pitting plum butter’ from makingoursustainablelife.com/plum-butter. Excellent recipe because wasn’t looking forward to pitting all those tiny little plums. I had to count the plums before they go in to make sure you take the right amount out. Tamara and I counted. Lost count at around 275. Counted again. We stewed 290 plums. Dang, actually, we stewed 291. Missed one and found that last pit later. I also took the recipe to a lazier/tarter level and left the skins in as well. Now I need to find some good Fennel recipes.
As part of embracing my ‘hunter-gatherer’ I am learning to identify more and more weeds. Slow going but very rewarding when I figure out one more weed with my few weed id books and my handy/dandy i-phone app. This week I found and identified, for the first time, ‘pineapple weed’ and ‘travelers joy’. I can make tea out of pineapple weed but seems best to avoid travelers joy as it seems like it is poisonous, most of the time.