Our campervan experience

6 12 2009

I’m living in Auckland, New Zealand… in a van! I came here with my boyfriend, Mono, to experience new situations that are completely distinct from the commercial lifestyle of my home in Santiago de Chile. Here are some fragments from our life on four wheels…

The House

Our house is a Nissan Serena adapted for travel: it has a bed and a lot of space underneath to fill with our belongings. The kitchen is essentially a box full of kitchen utensils in the back of the car, and we have two stoves for cooking. Our closet is the space beneath the seats, where all our shoes and cloths are placed; our Scottish style curtains give the van a homey atmosphere, and we have organized everything to sleep and be comfortable in our reduced space. The only slight problem with our living situation is that Mono is 1.82 meters tall, and the bed doesn’t completely fit him. At least he doesn’t complain in the morning. By now I think he’s used to sleeping with his feet on the back windshield.

We don’t have a bathroom, but one great thing about New Zealand is its vast availability of comfortable, modern, and very clean public restrooms. There are some public bathrooms near the parking place where we live, and already we are familiar with the cleaning schedules, so we know the best time in the day to go. Showers? We arrange to take showers in the public swimming pool.

Originally, I thought we would only be living in the van for a couple weeks while we traveled around the South Island. However, since we were not working or earning any money once we were back from our travels, and since paying for an apartment or hostel costs at least $130 NZ Dollars per week, living in the van seemed to be the most practical way to save money and also have an adventure — my ‘flower power dream come true!

In Auckland’s downtown, there are not many free parking places. During the day the traffic is busy, as in any Metropolitan city, but we simply look for a parking place that doesn’t have any time or payment restrictions. We’ve met many other people who park overnight, some who live in good campervan conditions, others who just park their cars as we do. So we tried out this lifestyle, we liked it, and we decided to keep it up. It is quite agreeable, in fact; we live very close to one of the most luxury neighborhoods in downtown Auckland, without paying a dime in rent money!

The Neighborhood

Our house, our street, our neighborhood… I just love them! We have met a lot of interesting people. Cliff, one of our neighbors, came to New Zealand from Tahiti with his parents when he was only five years old. Now he’s 60, and while his permanent home is now in Australia, he has been living in Auckland in recent months. We are like a family; Cliff is always looking after us and is concerned with whether we are okay. I love the way he celebrates our small victories, like the day Mono got the working holiday visa, or when I came back after a big day of cleaning jobs. On such occasions, we are greeted by a funny jump and ayoohoo! and sometimes a gift of a bottle of red wine (his favorite) to celebrate!

Cliff is a designer, but he only works part-time. When we leave the car, it’s nice to know that he’ll be around to keep an eye on things, it makes us feel much more secure. However, one day Cliff didn’t come home, and we waited for him day after wondering where he might be. Despite our calling and texting, we didn’t get any response back. We thought maybe he had gone to his daughter’s place, but we asked everyone in the neighborhood and nobody had any news from Cliff. After a week, we became really worried about him and began imagining the most terrible things! However, later that night as I was returning home from work on my bike, I saw something that looked like Cliff’s car, and I just sped up to get there as fast as possible… and just like that, there he was! He was just smiling, listening to his sixties music, and drinking wine as if nothing had ever happened. You can imagine the relief I felt when I saw him! Fortunately he had been away working for several days, and as it turns out, it was better for him to park overnight nearer to the house he designed, and he simply wasn’t able to tell us before leaving.

Jack Russell, or California” as we used to call him, was another neighbor of ours. He is an old nostalgic sailor man who left the US in a small boat back in the seventies. He got to Hawaii, and he realized the world is too small to live in one place your whole life, so he decided to see more of the world. When he arrived in the Polynesian Islands, he fell in love with it – the people, the dances, the food, the sea, the very blue sea. He continued sailing from place to place and ended up in New Zealand where he got his citizenship by very suspicious ways (but we don’t need that information anyway!).  And now he has left again, this time for Australia. One day he simply woke up, sold his Campervan, and just left – just as he left the US so many years ago. We keep in touch with him, and not surprisingly, his life still seems to be an adventure. Thanks to Jack, we now have his bike for common-use in the neighborhood (it’s great for going to the toilet in the mornings!).

A great memory is the day that Cliff invited us to dinner after discovering that Mono hadn’t had any meat in weeks. (Due to my vegetarian habits and our freezer storage problem, we don’t often buy meat.) Cliff roasted a big ham, California brought the peanuts, we brought the drinks, and we shared in wonderful company on this lovely, friendly night beneath the full moon, with the best view of the city in this very special place, our home.

All of these people are having an adventure here in Auckland. We all share parking spaces, but we are sharing our lives as well. There is a free-feeling spirit flying around our street. But there is also nostalgia and a loneliness that can be felt when you look into Cliff’s eyes as he tells stories about his three girls, or when you hear California’s extremely sailing stories. We joke around, calling ourselves the “homeless people”, but actually we are really lucky to be living in this very exclusive place, sharing our lives with these special people and having this amazing experience.

Our experience is not that extreme at all, it’s just an experience that everyone likes to dream about, or maybe even take it on as a way of life. I’ve exceeded my own limits; in my home country I never would have thought I could have a life experience like this, I could not have imagined myself living in a car, and I never thought I would meet people who really do this as a way of life. It’s hard to believe that it was been nearly five months now since we adopted the Serena as our home here in New Zealand.

Each morning I wake up, I kiss Mono, and I think that every day we are more in love with each other and more in love with our lifestyle. We have built this world together – our life in New Zealand, in our Serena, and it has been incredible. If I could do it all again, I would do it exactly the same way. We are lucky to have the ocean just outside our front door. The feeling of waking each day to the sight, the sound, and the smell of the sea is priceless.

The suburb

The suburb

Serena inside

The view from our window

Cliff, Mono, Me, California





6 responses

6 12 2009
Santiago del Río

1) En WP, tenés que elegir un tema ancho, que te permita subirlas en 640 x 480, que es el tamaño de las que subo yo.
2) Armás una carpeta con las fotos que querés subir, por ejemplo, “fotos Blog”. Y las copiás todas ahí y las cambiás de tamaño a 640 x 480. (o del tamaño que acepte como máximo el tema que estás eligiendo).
3) Las renombrás a todas, por ejemplo “fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador”, entonces te van a quedar fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (1), fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (2), fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (3), etc.
4) Cuando estás creando la entrada, tenés que tener en cuenta que para no hacerte lío lo primero es ubicar las fotos, antes que los textos, videos, enlaces, o lo que sea, primero ubicamos las fotos. Ponés la opción del cuadradito que se sube las fotos y elegís “subir fotos desde el Ordenador” y, si querés subir pocas fotos, te conviene elegirla con el EXAMINAR y cuando la carga el ponés SUBIR EN TAMAÑO COMPLETO.
5) Si querés subir muchas fotos, lo más rápido es, cuando te da la opción de elegir la foto de la computadora, seleccionarlas todas y darle ACEPTAR. Esto va a llevar un rato así que, mientras esperás te termine de cargarlas todas, ponés la pava para hacer mate o té.
6) Cuando las termine de subir, dentro del cargador de fotos, ponés BIBLIOTECA DE OBJETOS y vas buscando donde está “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (1)” y le das la opción de INSERTAR EN LA ENTRADA con TAMAÑO COMPLETO.
7) La foto aparece en la nueva publicación. Vas arriba a la derecha y tenés la opción de ver la entrada como HTML. Ponés eso y te aparece este lenguaje (desaparece la foto pero quedan las órdenes que la hacen aparecer).
8) Copiá las órdenes y repetí lo que hay ahí escrito para que te aparezca 10 veces lo mismo, dejando un renglón en blanco entre texto y texto.
9) Si ponés ahora la opción VISUAL en lugar de HTML, te va a aparecer 10 veces la misma foto. Volvés al lenguaje HTML y, en orden, vas cambiando una por uno los nombres de las fotos detrás de la opción SRC= del código HTML. Por ejemplo, en esta publicación aparece en el HTML la orden para buscar una foto como: src=”http://santiagodelrio.wordpress.com/files/2009/12/crecida-del-rio-parana-2.jpg Y sólo tengo que cambiar el nombre 2 por 3 para que cambie la fotos. En la próxima foto va a quedar: src=”http://santiagodelrio.wordpress.com/files/2009/12/crecida-del-rio-parana-3.jpg y en la que sigue src=”http://santiagodelrio.wordpress.com/files/2009/12/crecida-del-rio-parana-4.jpg A esto hay que hacerlo manualmente, cambiando una a una los nombre.
10) Vamos a suponer que tenés que subir 50 fotos. Una vez que cambiaste las 10 primeras, copiás entero el HTML de las 10 y las pegás para que aparezcan 5 veces las 10 primeras fotos. 10 x 5 = 50. Entonces detrás de la opción SRC= sólo vas a tener que agregar el número uno para conseguir las fotos entre el 10 y el 19 (las fotos “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (1)”, “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (2)”, “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (3)”, etc, van a ser fácilmente modificadas, con sólo agregarle el número uno y van a quedar “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (11)”, “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (12)”, “Fotos de mi viaje a Ecuador (13)”.
11) Una vez que tenés todas las fotos subidas, vas a tener que ajustar los tamaños, pues algunas serán 640 x 480 (lo ideal es que la mayoría cumpla con este ajuste), otras serán 640 x 360, las verticales serán 480 x 640. Para ajustarlo también lo hacés desde el HTML, detrás de la palabra ALT= aparece la opción para cambiar el tamaño de la foto, por ejemplo: alt=”” width=”640″ height=”480″

Espero que te sirvan la descripción de cómo hago yo para subir muchas fotos en ese tamaño. Algunas veces tengo que subir más de 100 fotos, y con esta forma, cuando estás acostumbrado, te lleva un ratito.

Un abrazo grande, y mandame otra vez la dirección de tu casa, así te mando eso me mantiene en deuda con vos.

6 12 2009
Santiago del Río

VEo que va a ser difícil que te mande el libro. Furgoneta azul, a veces en la avenida de las Rosas y otras en el campito de Don Mario. Jaja.

6 12 2009

I am delighted what you are living. I have spoken with a friend on the possibility of making something similar. Go out for a long time, leave behind the life of the city, the comercial lifestyle, the vanity, I don’t know, we will do something. The idea is make something different and have an experience that marks us forever. Although I feel that every day of my life it has already marked me forever.

And I do not know why I write in english if I don’t do it very well and if you also speak spanish 😉



6 12 2009

afortunados! …. no solo por su vida de ahora, sino por saber disfrutarla como lo están haciendo! mucha suerte!!!

9 12 2009

lindo y emocionante reporte!…but don’t you forget that every day some people think of you and miss you too.

15 12 2009

No mames morrita, qué emoción me dio leerte. No te imaginas cuántas cosas se me mueven por dentro, entre recuerdos y ansias de aventuras. Te mando un abrazote, y saludos al Mono, ya se me hará conocerlo. Y saludos a la Serena también jajaja. Chaonomá


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