Categories
Africa New Zealand

In Our Big Van Down By the River

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.

Categories
New Zealand

Into the wild, Yet Again

Well, left the camp to go bush. Tired of giving money to someone else for luxuries we just don’t need. We don’t need electricity if we can make our own. We dont need a washing machine if we have a river , don’t need a shower if we have a watering can hanging in a tree and don’t need a toilet if we can dig one. Besides our home is four wheel drive. Why not have a bit of fun.

New Zealand Is great for wild camping. If there is no sign you can camp, especially if you go away from the paved roads. Just need to respect the land and leave it as you found it when it is time to leave.

We now have our truck right across the field from the vineyard on public land. I meet Tamara at a besutiful little pond midway for morning tea and studies on the days that I work. We take a few moments to see how the paradise ducks and their 5 ducklings are doing. We notice how one seems to lag behind. They are learning to dive under the water now. The parents fly off on ‘dates’ now, leaving their babies under our watchful eyes.

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The track we took to get here was tough. Got stuck twice. We even got to take down our sandmats and use them for something besides decoration , while crossing the river. Got to see ‘three point mounting’ in action on out truck. It twisted and turned in ways that seem unnatural for a poor truck.

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Once arrived Andrew was so exhausted that he fell asleep on the grass next to the truck.

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Great fun here. Being able to wild camp in places like this is one of the dreams I had when we first got the truck. I just never get tired of it.

Getting lots of exercise as we walk a km every time we want to go somewhere in the car because the car cannot make it down the path where the truck went. Funny that. Grateful we have a car as we normally don’t. Feel like we are living in a special rustic, idyllic paradise right now.

We think this is where we will be for Christmas when Liz and Abi come down from Wellington. Our good friend, Teresa and her man will hopefully be here from Korea. Possibly, some of our workmates from the vineyard will be here and Jojo, our wonderful new Mauri friend from the camp. I love it when there are meetings of our worlds like this.

Categories
Morocco

Fes and the Rumi connection

Fes is amazing. A lot less stressful than Marrakesh. For one thing there are no motorcycles in the narrow lanes.

Only donkey trains, which. of coarse, bring other things to look out for. Nothing that can’t be scraped of the bottom of the shoe. We parked in a parking lot that we found out about at the back entrance near a graveyard. Going in the back entrance to the medina had benefits as we came straight into the workshops instead of the tourist shops.

Alana continued her photographic exploration of ‘strange places to find cats in Morocco.’

When Andrew drove us into Fes with great enthusiasm and gusto. “This is my kind of city”, he would exclaim. He would then tell us, again, about Rumi and the Sufi mystics and the connections with with muslim and christianity that he has been reading huge amounts about since Portugal. “Let’s go find a sufi mystic tomb!” The kids were not sure if this was their idea of a great time until TJ found out this is where his BONES were. “Can I see them?” “Will they let me touch them?” You see TJ is really into bones and her single greatest discovery in Fes is the donkey skull to add to her ever increasing bone collection. Anyway, back to the quest.

We saw the die baths on the way, Oh yeah. Did you know how they make leather so soft here? Pidgeon poop – they like to call it “droppings” but we all know what droppings are, heh.

So back to the quest. It was an Andrew paced pilgrimage through Fes ending with a trek up a hill to a small building in the middle of a graveyard in the heat of the day. Yup, exciting. For Andrew it was. It was like he had given birth. He was now ready to head on. Sadly, we feel our time in Morocco coming to an end as we get closer and closer to the ferry city of Tanger.

Categories
Morocco mum's rants Travel

To wild camp or not to wild camp? Morocco

We are SUCH slow learners but we are finally starting to catch on. We continue to have bad experiences at traditional campgrounds. We normally meet some nice people but looking back, the fact is that we are weird and getting weirder is making it harder and harder to stay at normal campgrounds.

These are our problems. Our truck looks weird. We look weird. We are traveling full-time. We are traveling with kids. We are traveling with extra adults that we are not related to. We are now traveling with a Moroccan friend. We invite local friends, new and old, to come and visit us. So we have memories of getting kicked out of British campgrounds because we “didn’t look right”. We have had to smuggle friends into a campground in Portugal for a BBQ party. We are continually getting in trouble for the kids not wiping out the sink well enough after washing dishes or wiping down a toilet properly. Our kids are not slobs but they are not mini old people either. No matter how many bad experiences we keep on going back.

It is not relaxing at all when we go. We normally do mountains of laundry, shower, refill the water, recharge the batteries, etc. Campgrounds are hard work for us. And, as they say, it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. When we lived in a motorhome full-time in America we could stay quite cheaply if we were staying for a longer time and we were driving an old Winnebago. So, we stayed at our 4th motorhome park since we have been in Morocco. 4 in 2 months, not to bad, especially since we stayed at 2 for 1 nite and 1 for 2 nites and the one we stayed at longer was called a campground in only the loosest of contexts (no door, or even a curtain, on the pit toilet and no security man sitting by the gate all night). We also frequently ate and sang in the house of the man running the campground while we were there. That is another story. A good one.

So, we went to another campground in Safi. The only campground in Safi. We hung up our mountain of laundry.  Karim was not allowed to stay with us because he had lost his ID and is waiting to get it sent by his brother. A drag but fair enough, he slept in his tent elsewhere. But when Karim came in the next morning to have breakfast with us the angry man at the front made him leave. I asked is it because of the ID or because Karim is Moroccan.

No answer. We left. DUDE.

The following nite we were on our way to Marrekech and decided to wild camp instead. What a great experience. Andrew and TJ found our place. They discussed the criterea. They were privacy, hills, rocks, trees., safety. We took a Piste (donkey trail) off the main road near some hills and found a great place! Andrew was quite pleased with our 4 X 4 vehicle and took lots of pictures of the Land Rover on the hill as we left. He took no pictures of the new sedan we passed on the way out.

While we were there we met lots of amazing people from the nearby villages who gave us Leben (fermented milk) and eggs and bread and goat butter. Alana and Abi have a great story of a house they were invited into. I think we all have stories of cows trying to steal the veg we were cutting on the table, bird houses in the bushes, snake stories, little kids, generosity. All in all a great time.

Coming into Marrakesh we were again confronted with the choice of campground or not. I mean, seriously, we are going into a big medieval city, we are big, we only have addresses of campgrounds and we ARE pathetic creatures of habit. Well, we resisted and instead of trying another campground we drove into the city looking for a parking place thinking we could just leave every night. Instead we found a parking lot next to the main mosque and the souks. Great location. When we came in they said it would be 50 derams and asked if we were planning on sleeping here. Uh…. yeah. We were sent to the back lot where we are hanging with about 20 white plastics and self-builds. We are a short walk from the souks and some public toilets.

Yeah, about toilets in Morocco. Don’t read the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to know. It is kinda weird talking about it on a blog but it just needs to be said. The toilets are squat style and toilet paper is generally not used. They use water from a tap that you can find in each toilet along with a small bucket. You can buy TP here but it is expensive. To the defense of the Moroccan toilet system. Squat toilets are healthier than sitting down ones and water is much cleaner than toilet paper. Just facts that were established early in our time here. We STILL have had an extensive adjustment period but am now feeling comfortable with the Moroccan system of things in this area. Sometimes we still reach for the TP just not nearly as often.

While I am at it about getting kicked out of wild camping places in Morocco. If you are way out in the wild. Don’t worry. Just meet the neighbours, if there are any and be nice. Offer to share your meal with them or a cup of tea. We have been kicked out of one wild camping place in Morocco by the police but they were really nice and said some of the wild campers got robbed there, they haven’t been able to catch the thieves and they wanted to protect us.That isn’t so bad.

If you are looking for our great parking lot in Marrakesh and are looking for this great motorhome parking place we are under the phone tower with the storks that is behind the main mosque and the big park. The parking sign is on the main road going to the Fna place.

So to wild camp or go to a campground. I give you full permission to question me if I become a softie and go back to a campground. There are lots of alternatives to the campground for laundry and bathing and water. Yeah, swords raised, one for all and all for one. We shall wild camp!

Categories
Morocco

Time in Tagazout

So we are now hanging out in Tagazout. It used to be hippie heaven and has turned into a bit of a surfer paradise. The official campsite in town is quite far out and looks quite institutional with its perfectly lined up miniscule trees so we opted for the free place, with no showers, closer to town with lots of trees and more motorhomes and overlanders. We have had a great time here. Andrew has been having a great time hanging with and learning from all the overland men. We are learning so much.

He was hanging with amazing people like Elia from Italy who scored this great big truck from and expedition company and travels with his big dogs. He just took off with about 4 other italian overlanders for Senegal.

And Martin from England who has a full workshop and welding kit ready to go on board his old fire engine to pay for his journey.

In addition to the  30+ white plastics and the 10+ overlanders alot of moroccan families came in for the day. What a great place!  We made necklaces, drew pictures, painted nails.

played on the hammock,

took a camel, oops dromedary, ride.

btw if you are going to take a dromedary ride in Morocco make sure and watch out for the lurch at the beginning and the end of the ride as this tall animal gets up and down.

I tell you the morrocans really know how to picnic. I am used to cold sandwiches. They bring these little gas stoves and prepare elaborate tagines and mint teas. The hospitality cant be beat as well. One family that set up camp at a tree next to our truck served us tea and bisquits and wouldnt stop feeding our kids orange slices. Later in the day was the best by far for me. The mothers and grandmothers and aunties of the little girls we were spending time with came over to their camp behind a wall of veils where they fed me tagines and mint tea. The wall of veils were taken down just before the call to prayer so they could put them on as they took turns to pray while facing mecca. I think they really put us to shame hospitality wise. How often do we open up our celebrations and meals to complete strangers just for the sheer kindness of it and no agenda.

Categories
Spain

Wild Camping, etc, outside Gibraltar

We have finally left Portugal. I know, I know, but we love it there. So anyways, here we are outside Gibraltar. We have been wild camping with about 30 campervans etc. We were in this big dirt parking lot right next to the border crossing. Kinda surreal actually. We were in Spain, La Linea de la Conception. We were carrying our passports so we could go back and forth from “Little Britain” (Gibraltar) to Spain. Gibraltar was great for some tastes of where we have been calling home before starting our journeys this time. Elizabeth went to Morrisons and filled a bag with malt loaf. Andrew took some of us to a pub and we had chips and cheese. Samuel, Donald and Alana were busy til late evening going back and forth from country to country. Me and Abi found some insulin and even a place to get a blood test done for her diabetes for just 9.90 OK, not as much fun as malt loaf but necessary. Hannah is just happy to have some more famous 5 books from the second hand bookstore.

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Once you cross the border you walk or drive across the airport runway, through a tunnel and into, well, a great big duty-free street. I must say, we were a bit disappointed with the amount of English books. Maybe our expectations were a bit high. We did find a good second hand book store in a cake shop. We did have a good time.

We made lots of new friends. Full-timers, like us. Pen has lived on the road for years and is sporting a van conversion of his own creation.

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Pen took off 5 years ago with some friends for one year. After one month he realized he wanted to do this full-time, went back long enough to sell his house and is living off the interest. It is just him and 2 stray dogs he adopted in Spain. “Boss” and “Wife” took off in the big green bus one month ago with 5 big dogs and her daughter, “Child” (10 years old). She became instant friends with TJ and Hannah. Here they are sporting their “best friend hats” they found at a Chinese shop.

Boss’s wife had cancer a couple of years back and after chemo realized she had strayed far from her teenager dream of travelling full-time. When her hair grew back in curly instead of straight she cut it into a mohawk and started to make plans to start travelling with her daughter. As far as wild camping, well, we are coming to the conclusion that Spain seems to always be hard. After 3 days in La Linea we were moved on by the police. I tell you in 10 minutes everyone was gone. All except 2 motorhomes. One of the remaining motorhomes had a blown engine and the second motorhome had the new engine for the first on their trailer. It is strange. Portugal seems to be quite accepting of wild campers as they spend money locally. France and Germany provide special low cost camping but Spain. It is SO HARD to bring a motorhome here. Campgrounds are really expensive and wild camping is really difficult. We are meeting more and more people with some experience on the road who skip through Spain as quickly as possible. They jump from Southwest France and plan their trip perfect so they can be in Portugal by the next evening. If they want to go further south they go to the south of Portugal and skip, as quickly as possible, to Morocco via Algeciras (where the cheap ferries are).

We have now left the Gibraltar area and are in Tarifa. We have just spent one night in a campground. Taking showers, washing clothes, charging electricity. After being overwhelmed at my big bags of laundry I have decided that small and decentralized is better. Just like our trash. When we first started out we accumulated big bags of trash that were hard to get rid of. We switched to small plastic carrier bags. Problem solved. So, applying the same principle to our laundry. Everyone will keep a pillow case in their locker for their dirty clothes and they will be responsible for it themselves. Dispersed and personal. If this doesn’t work we will have to try something else.

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Unfortunately it rained the whole time so we were at this campground, huddled in our motorhome, walking through a lake, that had formed outside our truck to get anywhere. We did get to hang out and watch movies with our ample electricity.