Sunday, 14 January 2018

BBQ's, Beers & Bloody Good Mates

The past few days have been without a doubt, the hottest I have ever experienced in my whole life.  To some of you living in other countries, 32 degrees celsius may not sound anything too extreme, but the Southland heat is like no other heat we have ever known.  The sun is so incredibly intense down here, you just cannot be out in it.  Which makes things rather interesting when you live in a tiny van.  But on the positive side, we can open up our entire vehicle to let the air through, which is more than a lot of people in the bigger motorhomes are able to do.  This leads to another positive in that everyone has to sit outside in the shade and simply relax.  There is simply nothing else you can do, and this makes for a very social time I can tell you!

Even grown ups love running through a water sprinkler!

Despite the sweltering heat, I am so content right now it's ridiculous.  How can anyone not be happy in this balmy weather, surrounded by lovely people? I think most people would consider me to be an outgoing person, and would probably be surprised to hear that I consider myself to be an introvert.  I love my own space, peace and quiet and am fiercely protective of it but since living on the road I have learned to share that space.  My van is still my haven and if you want to hide away from the world you can simply shut the door, or in the worst case scenario move to another location - but in 15 months we haven't had to do that yet.  I have felt a definite shift in myself lately, and I've noticed it in Gareth too.  He's always been a lovely, friendly bloke but it makes me smile so much to see how well he interacts with all the campers and looks out for everyone.  I feel a lot more confident and relaxed when talking to people and I think it boils down to the fact that I'm just so much happier in my own skin these days.  When you live this way, everyone is equal.  It doesn't matter if you're in a $200,000 motor home or a $2,000 station wagon, we are all out there doing it the same.  Sure, you get the odd sniffy person who doesn't speak or acknowledge anyone else but these are incredibly few and far between.  It's like anything in life; you get what you give, the more you put in, the more you get out.

Wayne, Leanne and their dog Milo, some of the lovely friends we have met recently

Bevin the caretaker and his wife Amy are supposed to be on holiday right now, but had to come back early as the ground was getting too dry and urgently needed irrigation.  Fortunately they knew the perfect place to spend the rest of their break.  You know it must be a good campground when even the caretaker goes on holiday here!  So last night we and some of the other campers got together for a pot luck BBQ and a few beers.  Half of us had never met before, but as tends to happen with other road dwellers, everyone just falls into easy conversation and has plenty of stories to tell.  It made for a very enjoyable and relaxing evening and I thought to myself as I often do, what an amazing life we lead, to make the acquaintance of so many people and so quickly be able to count them as good friends.  Someone said to me recently that one of the biggest fears which stops them from doing what we do is no longer being part of a community.  I could understand that; I had the same fear too, particularly after being part of a very busy and active community in Whangamata.  But that's the thing, we ARE part of a community.  Everyone who lives on the road immediately part of the same special community.  It may sound corny to liken it to being part of a huge family, but that's how it is. There really is nothing like it.

Bevin's wife and all-round amazing lady Amy, in their motor home 

No shortage of beer and banter when you live on the road!

Am struggling to even write in this heat today but heaven knows there are people faring a lot worse than me.  This morning I stopped to chat to a friendly young Asian man who had just packed up his tent.  He was carrying an enormous pack on his back and another on his front, as well as his sleeping mat.  'Are you leaving now?'  I asked in disbelief, referring to the heat.  'Where are you going?'  'Invercargill!' he smiled.  He was about to walk/hitchhike 65km along a smoking hot highway.  I hope like hell that a) somebody picked him up quickly and b) he hasn't collapsed from heat exhaustion!  But nothing touched me more than the Otago Rescue Helicopter pilot we all witnessed this morning.  Our campground is the place it always lands whenever there is an accident and emergency and we see it far too often.  There were four heat-related fires in Gore yesterday alone and this morning the siren went off early and the chopper was quickly brought in to meet the ambulance and receive the patient.  Normally this all happens fairly swiftly but for whatever reason today it didn't and the pilot had no choice but to stay with his helicopter until everyone else arrived.  There he waited, in the middle of the searing hot rugby field, with no shade whatsoever, for more than three hours.  After a while in desperation he took shelter under the actual helicopter, in an effort to get into the shade somehow.  It made quite a picture and I would have loved to photograph it but it didn't seem quite right under the circumstances.  So instead I went out to him to see if he would like a cold drink.  'I'm OK, I don't know what the hold up is, but thank you!' he grinned.  Mercifully it wasn't too much longer before the ambulance arrived and everyone was on their way but as I pottered around outside, doing my handwashing and cooking brunch I felt actually guilty that my life is so simple and my whole house and everything I need is with me at all times.  One thing is for sure though, I never take any of it for granted!

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