Water to Oil – our bus break down

We had one thing in mind for travel and our year to come – head north to warmer weather, and see what flows.

After leaving The Planting Festival (Woodfordia) about the only thing that flowed was the water into the oil of our bus. We immediately thought the worst. Money and stuck in one place.

Just days before our bus break down we were in a state of confusion about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. The last year aboard although an amazing experience, was also a disappointment for many reasons. Mainly by our own expectations. Social interactions for our children, small community connections, tending a garden and growing food, clean water and pristine environments were all lacking.

Amazing how the synchronicity of life steers you on certain paths and at times stops you in your tracks. I can be pretty stubborn and sometimes it takes massive shifts to make me adjust my mind-set.

Driving back from the festival we headed towards Pomona, needing a couple of days to adjust the solar and gather supplies. We had arranged to camp behind the Vipassana centre, adjacent to a state forest, on land owned by a couple whose address had been given to me while on my last meditation sit. The land is just 10 mins bike ride out of the town of Pomona with loads of firewood. Just perfect. When I had called the owner he had said how strange it was that he had seen our bus go past a week earlier and he knew that we would call and that we would stay. He had mowed an area in preparation.

We drove our massive green bus through the townships watchful eye, past a small school and onto a narrow dirt lane, lined with eucalypts and kangaroos. About 100 meters down the road an alarm sounded inside the bus and our dashboard lit up. Something was wrong with Gypsy Green. Water and oil light on, alarm still shrieking we ambled into a cleared area beside a small dam and  parked her up.

Long story short'(after hours of investigation and dismantling the head) when the bus had its motor reconditioned some 80,000km ago someone had forgotten to tighten some small toppers. These had slid off into the head and clanged around, metal on metal until they wore their way through the side. Not a total rebuild but when your dealing with parts this big its in the thousands. Even if we have the money….its times like these when you have to access what lifestyle (home) you live. We still come out way cheaper.

Its been over 6 weeks now since we arrived here and with the freedom of moving at will forcible removed from us we have settled and found a strange sense of peace. Its feels like a homecoming, a welcoming from the universe to say its OK to stay still.

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We have met the most amazing people, mingled with the wildlife, started a garden that Adam would be proud of (sorry for that reference) and felt so invited by the community. It’s all we were looking for in our travels overseas that was missing.

I am certain we would have kept heading north, searching for that perfect place, if we hadn’t broken down. Sometimes the searching can be fun but mostly it just blinds us from the real beauty of the moment, the place, heart or face. We simply cannot see what makes us happy let alone live in a manner that allows that joy  to permeate into our daily routines and lives.

We will be on the road again real soon (thanks to Paul our new best diesel mechanic friend) but our adventures will be a little more planned as of now. Perhaps a festival in Townsville, winter over WA next year or weekends (weeks) away exploring new lands. Besides I have invested some decent amount of love into an amazing garden so will be back and forth to keep it evolving.

What ever we choose, we will do it because we have the freedom to choose and not because we are lost in the search, driven by a longing or craving for something. The older I get the more I realise that everything I want is already inside me….I just have to remove all the shit to see it.

There are so many of us on a search for the right community at this time in the world when really I think we need to start with our own self community. The relationship between our own mind, body and spirit.

It’s nice to find myself happy and in one place long enough to be able to share it with others. After 5 years retreat in the forest and one year abroad, we are stationary and we area happy.

I hope you find happiness in your own home, your own heart.

Much metta.

 

 

 

 

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Are we really ‘Livin the Dream’ or are you just not living yours?

 

As the bus shakes and rumbles down a coastal road towards the beach we watch afternoon workers crane their necks to glimpse in wonder (or horror) at our antics. I presume they are thinking, who is inside and what are they doing. How is it possible that this barefoot earthern garbed family is ‘livin the dream’ when I am just finishing a 50 hour week.

It comes down to choice and your belief system. Money helps when setting up but its not essential for the journey.

If you are prepared to live without expectation and without a pension – youll make it happen ……..but it’s not all beach and green smoothies. Sometimes we hide in the back of industrial estates, under the cover of scrub next to 3 other intrepid campers or just right in the thick of street life and street lights. I post all the good pics because that’s what I want to remember – that’s what I focus on – that’s what I hope to inspire you to look for. An alternative to the cycle of work and ownership. Search for the calm, search for YOUR dream and love every other day in between as much as possible.

Life is so much more interesting if you get involved with it.

Our last little adventure was through the stunning northern rivers. Humid forest, coastal beaches and plenty of vibe but plenty of people too. After being disappointed with the lack of free coastal camps we headed inland towards Nimbin, Mullumbimby and Kyogle. Although the amount of free camps didn’t improve the acceptance to us being parked did.

Luckily or for some maybe unlucky people we landed in Nimbin the day of the nude bike ride which calls for a “cleaner, safer, body-positive world” with a particular emphasis on cyclists’ rights. The girls and I sat in the main park eating our green vegan spinach pie, playing Yahtzee, watching hairy balls and pink nipples jiggle in the breeze while my husband managed a jam with Lewis Walker and a couple of his side stars. Our clothes stayed this time but feeling the draw next time round.

Some of the highlights of our trip was a brief stay at Bochow Park – although it states no camping we had a fabulous time for a few days near the river. Great toilets and gas cookers (even has a little power point near the cookers for a quick phone charge) and council garbage pick up. The kids loved looking for little amber coloured crystals by the water.

Bochow Park – Goldcoast hinterland

We visited the Hare Krishna Consciousness centre outside of Murwillumbah again for their Sunday food and kirtan and we are also considering a short volunteer stay here in the near future – thanks to some delicate nudging by one of our friends, Jasmine.

The next site was the highlight of my trip (except for my time on community in Kyogle with Tamar – story to come). A brief stay at Mount Wollumbin

A local lady directed us here for the kids to explore the rock pools and slides and soak up the serenity but be warned, I think 50 hikers in their cars drove past predawn to climb the summit. There is a no camping sign here but we didn’t see it until the next morning.

We headed back towards Brisbane yesterday after a few weeks away on the most scenic drive – highway 13 –  amazing rock formations, forest and contrasts so that we can spend the next couple of weeks finishing off our bus transformation.

Solar installation, bar fridge, shelving and top-deck for night sleep outs under the stars. For now I am in love with how the bus is coming on.

Happy travels and much metta to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Registered and Ready

All our hard work paid off – the bus is registered and we are ready to roll. Although there are many small jobs to complete we passed the QLD inspection.

For anyone thinking of converting anything into a motor home but particularly a bus it really wasn’t that difficult. Our biggest problem was a seat conversion that required a modification plate ($300 to be inspected and passed).

Once you have a weight certificate ($25 at a public weigh bridge), mod plate, insurance, and motor home conversion checklist signed off (use a nice mechanic and don’t do it at main roads) you are set to go.

Make sure you look like a home and not a bus trying to get cheap yearly rego and you should do OK getting your wheels on the road.

Part of the checklist for conversion includes removable table, cooking facilities (even if your raw food vegan – so gas cert) and sink. There needs to be enough seats to match the amount of beds. Lucky we have a carpenter and plumber in the family.

The sink goes in with a convenient chopping board to hide any mess and fallout when we stop suddenly. If your going to lose your plates and dishes its always forwards towards the front of the vehicle.

A few extra projects for the day included a splash back for cooking (courtesy of my daughters childhood drawing), waxing of the benchtops (beeswax and linseed oil) and thinking of ideas for our recently sourced copper water container thanks to the Yandina markets.

Next on the list is solar and small  12 volt bar fridge and minimal lighting.

I even got my L’s yesterday…….

Love to all.

Coincidence, Krishna and Aussie Scrub

Farm sit done we hit the road towards southern Queensland to register the bus – I’ve heard its easier there.

Tall, dry barked eucalypts line the highway, one we have driven many, many times before. It all seems so different this time round though. The trees seem greener, water ways clearer and roadkill evidence of a healthy environment. These perceptions a grateful side effect to overseas travel.

Rambling down the highway I laugh to myself in remembrance of how many times a European person avoided my eyes, chuckling each time I mentioned the Aussie bush. Bush in Europe means your vagina so I use ‘scrub’ a bit more now days although it doesn’t seem to do the density of our forests any justice.

Toilet stops, ocean swim, fuel and green grass adventures – we look for our first camp – Northern Rivers just before you enter into Yamba. No toilet (quick wee Ok) but the area is clean, pretty quiet and beside the river. There were about 4 other campers here.

Campsite location

Light rain and warm temps motivated the mosquitos to join us for breakfast which we collected from our immediate surrounds – mangoes, strawberry guavas and waragal greens to which I added some eggs. My daughter is into wild crafting and all things survival so her skills of seeing the edible amongst a bare patch is tested and appreciated often.

Early start (toilet needed) – we headed further north. Brunswick was only a few minuets drive off the main highway and well worth the stop – swim, boat love, people meet and expensive delicious food treats.

The kids made camp on a blanket I had thrown under the shade of a massive Poinciana, slicing open a watermelon with newly gifted knives from their Pop while I made some green mango salad left over from this mornings harvest. My husband and I talked about a dream to live aboard a boat maybe at a later date as we watched a gorgeous little cat sway from side to side in direct view from our bus.

Right at that moment a man dressed in loose shorts, pin striped business shirt and broad rimmed hat approached the girls and began talking. I gave him a min before wandering outside to join the conversation.

“Thought Id introduce myself as you looked like home schoolers too”…..”I’m Peter”

I checked out my two daughters – one was recording specific notes and diagrams about various animals tracks you might find in the grasslands of outback Australia – the other artfully filling a page with dreamscapes and visions.

“yeh we home school, my names Tamika.”

For the next half an hour my husband and I chatted with Peter and found an instant connection. He had natural schooled his kids for ALL of their schooling and when his son turned 15 they had bought a catamaran to live on as they were looking for a challenge. Yes – its was the exact cat we had been eyeing for the last hour. If it wasn’t for the pressure and time restraint of registering the bus (as well as a rotten painful tooth) we all would have jumped aboard his catamaran and become his crew for the next week or two.

We said goodbye to Peter, feeling our paths would cross again sometime, cleaned up the remains of the watermelon and bounced our way towards the highway only to miss the turn some few hundred meters later. Dammn – oh well – the view was all new from this higher bus aspect and the northern rivers area is just so beautiful with its majestic mountains and energetic forest gullies.

A thought came to us once we neared Murwillumbah that just one year ago a friend had taken us to a Hare Krishna joint somewhere in the hills near here. We stopped in town for a couple of quick supplies and decided without a GPS or inside knowledge it was just too much trouble to find directions out the Krishna Centre.

No more than 5 seconds later 2 freshly shaven robed young men rounded a corner and slammed into my husbands shoulder. They hugged, chatted and smiled their way into our souls in a heartbeat. Yep – they were from the centre and would happily escort us out. I love a good energy line up (mainstream coincidence).

Sunday sees the Hare Krishna centre open its door to everyone for a vegetarian feast by donation and music accompanied with various teachings, dance and chanting if you wish.

Situated in the beautiful Tweed Valley in far northern New South Wales, about ten kilometres from Murwillumbah, the Hare Krishna farming community, New Govardhana, embodies this yearning for a gentler, simpler way of life. They have an amazing timetable suited to families, backpackers and spiritual seekers – yoga, WOOFing, camping, day visits, farming, school, festivals and much more.

Hare Krishna Centre Northern Rivers

Goodbyes said to our two new monk friends and butter balls exchanged we made the slow long walk back to the bus. TIP – don’t take a 12 tonne vehicle to the centre – it wont get across the bridge but the river is excellent for a freshen up.

We slept alongside a river this night – not the best camp at all but our minds were not on finding an oasis. The journey home to the Sunshine Coast went uneventful and rather quick.

This week – modifications, teeth pulled, curtains and home schooling.

I believe nothing is by chance and the life we lead is determined by the life we lead.

Love to all

 

 

Starting Again in Australia

 

Homeschooling done, Valentines just remembered (oh well) and one green bus sitting silent on the farm, waiting for us to board. The plan is to get the next Gentle Revolution registered before the end of this month and hit the open road again.

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Our goal is too open our hearts and see where life draws us.

After returning from a year overseas and no longer owning land here in Australia we needed somewhere to house our limited amount of personal effects and physical bodies. A safe haven to withdraw and maintain our families health and sanity while still enabling us to move at will. It also means we are free from mortgage and debt. Working, volunteering and exchanging our experience to fuel our lifestyle (and bus).

We decked out a bus in England last year and loved it but the whole time knowing we would sell it and almost ALL we had accumulated in 12 months of travel. Our attachment to the bus was not strong and letting go was part of the journey.

Based on our last bus make over we had some ideas for new and improved designs. With a larger bus we have room for a simple open plan living – unlike many of the new age caravans and camper vans on the road today and at a fraction of the cost.

First things forst remove the chairs and install some walls that will become the kids beds and our rear main bedroom (luxuary)

Our budget was about $1000 so we hit the skip bins and industrial estates.

 

Crates (after removing nails and sanding) became bed bases and shelving.

We used the old seats, stickers and paneling to make new seating and splurged on a kitchen bench top that wasn’t made of lasts this time so that I might have better chance of cleaning the spills.

 

The traveling conditions in Australia are so varied depending on the area that you wish to go. We don’t have plans to circumnavigate the coastal length in one year (maybe 5) or test the mechanical capabilities of the green machine on the Gibb River Road. For now we will concentrate on farm stays, festivals and friends who need a hand, lapping up the warm ocean waves and our amazing inland fresh water retreats so our bus doesn’t need to be a 4WD example of brilliance.

We did however agree that the old colours didn’t suit us – say anything about my ego?

 

Pain spraying 12 meters of bus in 45 degrees and rain did prove the most difficult and annoying task. The spray gun shit itself every hour or so with the heat and the first coat peeled after rain – we started again and prepared the entire bus a second time. Job done.

As usual the more we think about things the more we start to feel we are not ready – so 3 more days and in whatever state the bus is in – we are off.

Furnishings will come. Fridges may never come and a bucket with ‘elements’ written on it will do for our toilet right now.

The simpler the life I create and the less I surround myself with, the more happiness I seem to attract. The things that make me happy. (Family love, life and earth)

Less clutter – more room – its simple. The more space I leave, the more my life is open to change and accepting life’s flow.

I am happiest when life is simple and connected to earths natural rhythms.

If you want us involved with your project or land this year just let us know. We prefer to volunteer than work for money and want simply to connect, assist, love and evolve. Send us a little bit of info and dates so that we can plan (just a bit) our year ahead. Together we can make a difference in the lives of others and our earth. 

You might want to to even join us for a while????

Onwards and upwards towards no place like home. HERE and NOW.

 

 

Renovation of our Lives (and bus)

Its feels like I am sitting inside a zoo. Hundreds of waking birds call to their mates as the creatures of the night return to dens, nests and grassy lays. It is predawn in Australia and I have not heard such a commotion for over a year. Throughout most of Europe, Balkans and North Africa, animals are either wiped out for farming, eaten or too afraid or sick to appear. Not here. I can understand why so many of the people we met on our travels want to come and experience the beauty of this southern land – its friggin amazing.

Tuning into the sensation of warm ocean breeze against my eye lashes I believe with every cell that this is the perfect time to meditate, stretch the body and awaken senses. The energy of waking nature surrounds me and fills me with a sense of gratitude and comfort. No wonder the aborigines of Australia are so connected to the land – you cant escape it and who would want too?

I remind myself that this is why we have returned home. I breathe in the freshness, follow the flight of a territorial raven and feel the instinct of knowing this land expand in my chest. Closing eyes again I realise this week is a big one, as we prepare to drop a deposit on our new home on wheels. The next “Gentle Revolution”. The decision to live aboard a bus comes from our desire to remain unattached (to land and property) and out of the system (mortgage, debt and government handouts).

My family, as like many, have been there before, stuck in the day to day grind of meeting expectations and repayments, school appointments and social standards, to the point of tearing us apart. We know we just dont fit the mould – for some it just works.

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Thinking over the last year of travels, the people, different cultures, religions and countries, I realise each of us hold our own key to the way we want to live but how and when we unlock that door of potential, of life, is influenced by many things. For me, the primary influencer is what I surround myself with. What comes into contact with our minds, bodies and spirits the most.

As several kookaburras mark their boundaries with deafening laughs I know this is why we have come home. We want to surround ourselves with loving people, healthy clean food and water and be FREE to move and work amongst the flow of energies that I once felt prior to leaving.

Australian ancestors speak to me and I have missed their conversations.

While I was traveling I always felt my spirit was playing catch ups. I am not sure it ever really found me. I don’t dispute the benefits that travel had upon our growth as a family and as an indivual but I do doubt the money spent on the vastness of our efforts. Lesson learnt – we are now ready to journey into the land of unknown again, pushing our limits of love and exploring new territories – spiritually, mentally and physically.

First things first – BUS next week and beyond that – who knows. Open roads mean open hearts for us.

Grateful to be home. Let the renovation of our lives and our new home begin.

Love to all.

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Letter from a 12 year old to Return to Earth – How can we not listen? Setting Intentions for a Better Future.

Light from the overhead power pole outside my window tricks me into thinking its morning and I lay for what feels like a long plane ride in my hostel bed dreaming of adventures to come and waiting for the sun.

In just under one week my daughters and I will be feeling Australian soil again after one year on the road. Our other amazing member of this tightly knit family will be joining us shortly but destiny steered him elsewhere for a couple of weeks, although at this point I think he is doubting the detour.

The time apart is empowering. My husband and I have become too much a reflection of each other with the closeness of the last 7 years living arrangements. It is difficult to separate from him though when every thing I see, I love. How blessed am I. We make each other better people.

Dogs bark, car horns poke my tired nerves and the bells ring out from across the road at a local temple. I check the time and its exactly 11.46pm. Now I understand jetlag. Totally awake and ready for a new day yet knowing I should be snuggling under the covers.

Nepalese life doesn’t seem to know siesta or set prayer hours. We are back on 24/7 tourist time where everything is open and available for a price. I wonder if I can get a ginger or lavender tea at midnight. I wont stoop to such depth – I promise. Its a little different from the last few weeks in Spain where it STOPS STILL between 2 – 5pm and even outside of these hours the tourist dollar doesn’t seem to be of high importance. Good on them really.

 

I was coming here to Nepal to work with my two daughters in a small rural school about 3 hours west of Kathmandu but a couple of weeks ago I fell in a moment of complete unawareness and broke a few ribs. With a bung knee I may have managed but both ribs and knee – no chance. So one week rest and a little play at a local orphanage to use up our airfares and adjust to the different time zones before we make the final flight home.

As the girls continue to snore I have an opportunity to meditate and process clearly. I want to set some intentions for my families future based on a vision my husband had, experiences of our travels and a letter my eldest daughter wrote to me only days ago. (one which I will attach at the bottom of this page). As a parent I cannot ignore or brush aside my daughters request. It is full of truth and in complete harmony and timing with my husbands dream. Nice coincidence?

I ponder other parents reactions to their children’s’ desires. The appropriate social answer would probably be when they leave home or when they turn 18 but I believe if a child demonstrates they are capable and willing – then they are ready. It is usually US that limits their potential to grow and become independent.

The vision came to my husband in dream form, infused with an energy that invoked a moment of self realisation and greater understanding of our families path to assist mankind’s’ plight for survival. It showed us what we can do to help us and help you.

The last year has shown us the beauty of our world. We have seen the destruction too. Travel is such an amazing tool to awaken our minds. We feel and understand both the love and fear of earths ‘people as they try to survive and at times, flourish.  It is earth that cannot talk. She whispers to us in every changing second that it CAN support us but we ignore her wisdoms and in return she will show us that her power is mightier than our own. The future earth may be scarred by our actions but she will not die as our frail bodies will. Those that know how to survive – WILL.

To date we have trusted this intuition and every time, everything has worked in our favour. It all flows so easily when we listen. So why wouldn’t we continue to believe now?

 

We are returning to Australia to begin the next phase of our nomadic lives and reconnect ourselves and anyone else that feels the desire to join us. It will be a life that merges our daily movements and souls with that of the lands flow again. Learning bush crafts, adopting her medicines, feeding and clothing ourselves.

The challenge is – we will be living in a bus. It is almost impossible to live now as indigenous Australians did 200 years ago as we have destroyed, fenced or sold off much of the lands that supported the life they fed upon. This is our goal though. To support ourselves as much as possible with as little imprint as possible on our planet.

SO!…… INTENTIONS (remembering to be clear as possible)

  • Buy bus and transform it into a green house of love (and food) and a base of support for family, friends, brothers and sisters of the world.
  • Learn and practice indigenous traditions that promote positive sustainable living
  • Connect and assist with other growers and cultivators of this lifestyle, focusing on food foraging, herbal medicines, artistic expression and spiritual growth
  • Take our message and way of life to the people and show anyone who is interested, including Vipassana meditation and natural learning for children.
  • Continue to believe, learn, change and love, experiencing ALL of life with open minds and hearts.

GROW MORE, CONSUME LESS and HELP ANOTHER HUMAN – that’s our motto for this year to come. Hope to see you on the road.

 

A letter I cannot ignore

 

……………..”I want to live in the forest hunting and gathering but the rest of the family don’t want to live like that, well I haven’t asked them because this is like a secret…….because I feel that connection with the land and I know that’s where I belong……………..I just want so badly to go back to earth.”

“I think everyone should live in nature, hunting and foraging………….I also think everything has energy and is connected. I also believe in destiny and when you die you become part of the universe and that you have a soul………….and that you/your soul is split….like you live heaps of lives at once……..like I could be a homeless dude in Hungary, a butcher in Africa, a raven in Australia and watch over someone I love while writing this.”

“I want to do what native American tribes used to do when someone turns 15 or 16 or something …..they have to go and leave the tribe and survive off plants and water”

 

I hear you Nakeela.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Livin the Dream- Perception or Reality?

Since leaving Australia a year ago to travel the world in a little blue bus there has been one constant perception from people all across the globe – that we are living the dream many would like.

I want to tell you this is no dream. We are more awake than ever and its not always as pleasant as you would think. Its full on life occurring inside this little tardis with two pre teens and only 6 x 2 mtrs to share on the rainiest of days. BUT you are right – its been sensational and if this lifestyle is  something you are remotely thinking about than I would say don’t hold back – don’t overthink it – go for it.

Don’t let fear cloud your intuition or your dreams. The level of which you want to experience something is matched by the level of commitment you are willing to make. Sometimes this means committing to nothing or a whole lot less of something.

We overcame the fear of letting go of all our possessions and the possibility of not seeing loved ones again early on. It was the hardest part of our journey but after the initial shock – the world literally became our home and the limitless potential for personal and spiritual growth became our focus, whether we wanted it to be or not.

We travelled hard and learnt a lot about ourselves and the world in which we live.

The world may seem large to those that cannot travel but to us, to me, it is very small. What you do in your own backyard or town affects your neighbours, your nearest school, the closest river, our oceans. Just like our minds affects our bodies, our daily flow and interactions with others. We are all so connected and the world is suffering because of our lack or awareness, as is the poorest of our brothers and sisters.

Along the way we have learnt to give, respect, love and release what serves us no more. We have learnt to live with ourselves and like who we are becoming, as people, as parents and as a soul of this time. Only yesterday we were asked back to a mans home in Meknes, Morocco in return for giving him a ride. After sharing tea, bread and a few laughs about why I wouldn’t agree to a marriage proposal between my two daughters and his two sons, we prepared to leave. Full of love and kindness my two girls were about to jump aboard the bus when they said they would like to give the boys their bicycles and not because they were flattered but because of their apparent poverty. My heart melted as we unlocked the bikes and waved goodbye. I knew then we were doing something right in the parenting books.

With our South east Asian, European, Balkan and Moroccan adventures coming to a close and the next phase starting, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who sent a message, wrote an emailed or just enjoyed a picture or two. Its been an epic journey filled with joy and disappointment – just like any life – anywhere.

Yes, I am truly grateful for the opportunity we have had but it came from hard work and a determination to not let money and social conformities rule our decisions. See what happens from here as the years progress and let you know.

Choosing life as our journey we will continue the dream in 2017 with plans for the next Gentle Revolution back in Australia with a new and slightly larger version (for the teenagers of course).

Many blessings and love to you all.

With special metta to those in Hungary whom we almost began a community with (Matthias, Illdiko and Orsi) and for my time with Helena in England at Vipassana, Jenny and Kia from our Rainbow Haze, Heart Culture Festival and all the crew (Rolly) , Frankie the bee man, the Loves, Putu in Bali and her mother, the crazy Latin Americans traveling like us, Pietro in the hills of Italy, Faith, a Slovenian boy who stole my daughters heart for a weekend, Sultan the amazing goat cheese man, Shiri Fink, Cat in Morocco, Bella my bike, the girl who saw my soul on a sad day in Croatia, Bosnia (the man), Green Peace dude and all the nameless connections of love and play.

Most of all my family and our Gentle Revolution who took us almost anywhere without fail

The Muezzin of Marrakech

The Muezzin are calling ezan in Marrakech right now. Some voices are deep and inviting, others harsh and scratchy from years of dryness. They call for the people to come, attend the mosque, for the sun is soon to rise. I guiltily lay in bed knowing that his final call reminds the people “prayer is better than sleep”.

My family however is sleeping. We have our own faith. I should get up and meditate.

Nestled in the middle of a traditional riad, in the heart of Marrakech, I found a bear like cave that shields my family just enough while allowing the daily flow of Moroccan life to circle around us. Its been a long 5 months on the road, in a bus and on display.

The riad is centred in a traditional Medina or town and surrounded by a 20 foot high polished earthern wall. It is cool, mysterious and secured with a chain smoking security gang who stop every car with as much determination as the morning Muezzin. I only wish they had put down their cigarettes long enough to catch the kid who smashed our bus window yesterday. It seems that security only starts once you cross the red and white line and not a meter out. We didn’t catch the kid and we didn’t know what we would do even if we did.

I found this little oasis on the net and after just one day our bodies have relaxed enough to sleep peacefully. Everything you would need to survive a 2 month sandstorm is right at our disposal and the compound also boasts a few cafes, a little shop for various supplies, a pharmacy and mosque. I think I saw a pool too but swimming is prohibited on Friday and yep – that’s today.

There is an eclectic strange mix of global warriors and hard to understand French speaking Muslims who share the compound. Over a strong black shot and cheap pizza yesterday afternoon, I have already met a gorgeously garbed designer who I want to buy from for my market and an old time rocker from the 80’s called ‘Mr Tiger’ who has an amazing energy and recording studio. Dare I say, I lost my husband for hours yesterday. There is something here for each of us and we haven’t yet explored the world renowned markets of Marrakech located only 10 minutes away.

Light starts to creep into the bathroom window and cars begin to choke outside. The compound is still quiet and I imagine the Inam or leader of prayer has begun his service. I wonder a lot about the Muslim faith and would like to talk the many of the men and women who fill the mosques but the language barrier makes learning slow.

A friend of mine traveling through Morocco at the moment wanted to learn more about this religion so thought he would attend a mosque for the Muezzin had called so beautifully this day he told me. He followed the swarm, removed his shoes and entered the inner sanctum. He was respectful, removing his shoes and sitting quietly up the back but it wasn’t long before someone approached him and asked what had happened to him.

My friend replied, “I am here to learn”.

The stranger said “Well learn outside”.

Although my friend has the sweetest heart and a humble manner I am thinking he forgot to bathe or prepare himself for prayer. Just like in our home or hearts there are certain ways in which we perform sacred offerings or blessings, even the way we go about bathing or eating. To practice or pray here one must be in good shape and pure condition before starting prayer. It is necessary to wash the parts of the body which are generally exposed to dirt or dust or smog and going on past experience I doubt my friend had cleaned well in days.

Prayer to me looks like a gymnastic exercise and a mechanical act but one thing for sure its brings the awareness of God into their daily lives. I can only hope my day is filled with such devotion.

I hope for you too that your day is filled with such devotion to life and a love inspired by higher forces.

Rock on Marrakech.

 

Prayer or chant for Muslims carried out 5 times a day.

Allaahu Akbar (four times – “Allah is Most Great”).
Ash’hadu an laa ilaaha illallaah (twice – “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah“).
Ash’hadu anna Muhammadan-rasulullaah (twice – “I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah“).
Haya ‘alas-salaah (twice – “Come to prayer”).
Haya ‘alal falaah (twice – “Come to the good;’).
Allaahu Akbar (twice – “Allah is Most Great”).

Beds of War and Porridge

When I lay my head down to sleep tonight, I am not thinking about the usual travel adventures but of war and the long lingering effects it has amongst its people and upon the land.

Its been about 20 years since the war in Croatia raged. The ruins here tell a similar story to that of the locals. Run for your life or be destroyed. Thousands of homes, businesses and farming land lay ruined or scarred across Croatia but in this village, at least for the duration of the war they lost everything. Tourists, families and what military lived, ran for their lives or took to the sea. Most have never returned.

Stumbling across these abandoned buildings while trying to find a free camp was intriguing for a naïve Australian from the forest. With the personal protection of my husband I walked through many of the rooms and lobbies of these once prestigious hotels imagining a shocking and scary past. Now they are home to few and a novelty for many.

Trashed and littered with rubbish they stand testimony not only to the brutal past but to the disorganised governmental controls of today and a youth with no amusement.

We discovered that when the Bosnians invaded the coastline they took many of the hotels and houses in this area for themselves, using them to house their own. The entire tourist strip was captured by the military and used as a centre point for their warfare.

Today I saw the past and felt the energy of pain and loss. For some they reside here, amongst the burnt remains, with no other options but mostly it just falls apart. Rumble and graffiti joining hands in the current fight against tourism and international property ownership and development.

For me, for my family, it was a reminder how fortunate we are.

I left the ruins this morning, allowing nature and the locals to reclaim their stake but not before meeting Marco who slept in his car right beside our bus. A local guy who felt the pain of this land just as much, if not more than ourselves. We talked, shared porridge, sling shots, pheasant feathers and dried mushrooms. It was camp site to be remembered.

Love to you Marco and all the people of these lands. So much healing to be done. So much learning from these walls and their scars.