Living in a movable home

In the last months an idea has been creeping in the back of my head. It all started when Seven told me about his dream to build a free tea truck. His vision was to live in a transformed boxtruck while serving free tea to random people on the street, bringing people together and encouraging conversations and connections between strangers. The teatruck would be a movable home and free tea kitchen giving out a cuppa to anyone as long as they stay to drink it. There would also be a “gift and take box” where instead of money, people could  offer their skills for free or contact others whose skills they needed. I loved the idea instantly and thought I might visit Seven to help him build it or at least travel around with him for a while, but did not really consider the idea as a realistic option for me yet.

Then, about a month later, I met Ricki from Leipzig. She lives in an old UPS bus she bought and built herself with little money and time. In summer she travels around a lot to different festivals to work there while the rest of the year she lives with other people on a trailer site. What she told me about her life in a bus sounded amazing and got me thinking again. Could this be something for me? I’m living off of my savings at the moment so this would be the perfect time to invest money in something I’m passionate about without getting worried about money and time. I started thinking about pros and cons. The first obvious pro would be being able to move my home around and also taking it to festivals (I can already see myself driving crazy art installations to Nowhere), but I also realized that this could save a lot of money on rent. This would mean having to work less, especially when I start my psychotherapy training. On the downside I hate driving – but is that reason enough to keep me from living in a bus? I guess I could get used to driving again and I know I am not horrible at it. I am also completely new to constructing stuff, but usually I enjoy creative challenges and Ricki already gave me lots of tips where to get help. There is also tons of inspiration on the internet. The biggest challenge would probably be to find a suitable bus before I run out of time and money. I guess I will try and if I can’t find a bus in time maybe it wasn’t meant to be. On the upside Ricki has good contacts in the community and will inform me whenever someone wants to sell.

The last but most important realization I had about living in a bus is that I’d need to get rid of a lot (!) of stuff. Maybe this will be easier after living out of my backpack for months. I’m sure I’ve already forgotten about half of the stuff I own. But still I am very attached to my stuff (especially my huge collection of vintage dresses). There are also things I would not want to live without: an oven to bake cakes, a comfy bed and chillout space, a place for my sewingmachine and craft supplies… but none of these seem impossible with a bit of planning. Maybe this whole living in a bus plan will just stay a dream, but who knowns? Maybe I’ll be living in my tiny movable house soon…

Things I learned at my second workaway


Looking at my second workaway

A community in the nature – no electricity, no running water, campfires and yoga. For my second workaway I wanted the full on hippie experience and in a way I got it. But as always, imagination and reality turned out to be a little different. I defnitely did not imagine myself making ballon animals by candlelight in the middle of a forest, but let me start at the beginning. The “community” I found turned out to only consist of Pedro Pajarito, a positively crazy belgium clown with a big heart who makes his living by selling homemade german bread in the nearby village. The place he had created in the middle of rich green trees and close to the river was gorgeous. I loved so many aspects of the simple life that he was leading: the constant smell of fire, washing dishes in the river, being outside all day…


The communal kitchen and only “building”

Also Pedro was always thankfull of my help and company and an interesting person to talk to. I didn’t mind sharing a big dusty tent, the lack of decent tools or how my clothes got dirtyer in one day there than in the previous two months of travelling together, but when the two other volunteers Marie and Remi left just a day after my arrival I soon realized I needed more people around me. At the end I only stayed five days, but I a still thankfull for the time. I learned a lot of new skills such as making a ballon poodle, turning an old can into a stove, making natural insect repellant from scratch and starting a fire (I am still bad at this but I got a lot better).


One of the most important constructions: the stove

I also learned a bit about myself and so here is another list of random insights:

  • A heartfelt thank you makes a huge difference and shows so much appreciation.
  • I need some security. I probably couldn’t live without health insurance or only start making money for food when I completely run out of it.
  • Living in a tent permanently (as Pedro does) wouldn’t be an option for me.
  • Sharing skills is a lot of fun and I should attempt to do this more often. Even with things I am not an expert at myself.

Sharing my crochet skills and creating recycleart

  • I appreciate a little crazyness.
  • When it comes to vending stuff I am such a capitalist, always trying to optimize processes or save money.
  • I really enjoy and should practice more yoga. The best way to do this for me might be to share it with other people as I am a bit lazy when by myself.
  • Weirdly I expect people that are much older than me to “have their life together” or “figured out” more than I do. This is a really stupid expectation at my age plus everyone is probably a little clueless at times.

The river – a place to wash dishes, clothes and myself

Yes or No? Referendum day

The 21st of February was a special day. Not because Nowhere tickets went on sale (although that felt at least equally important to me), but because there was a big referendum in Bolivia. Since crossing the border I had noticed the signs everywhere: “Si Evo”, “No a la re-re-eleción” or “La Paz dice si” – but mostly just si or no painted on houses or rocks in the most random places. It took me a couple of days to find out what all the yes and nos were about. Evo Morales, first indigenous president of Southamerica and initially elected in 2005 was trying to change the constitution in order to possibly serve yet another term. While I was told that the Biolivian constitution only allows two terms per president, the former coca farmer is already serving his third term as he reformed the constitution in his first term.


Even “no parking” turned political

In many other countries a decision like this might go unnoticed by travellers. Not so in Bolivia! The referendum was widely discussed and hypothesized about in the hostels for one main reason: road blocks! Shortly before I entered the country truck drivers had gone on strike and weeks before the coca farmers, both resulting in long lasting blockades. Many backpackers got stuck and some brave gringos even crossed the blockades by foot, passing barriers and burning tires with their luggage. With this important political decision shurely things were going to be worse. Most people I met tried to make stretegical decisions about where to go before the 21st as busses would not be running on the day itself. Not few even left the country. I can’t deny that I was slightly worried too, but because of the El Choro trek Emma and me only managed to get to La Paz before the big day. I figured that it didn’t matter where I went from La Paz first, so I would just go whereever there were no blockades.


Children playing on top of a yes sign

When we arrived in Coroico after our big hike there were already first signs of the referendum: no beer! Apparently Bolivia has a strict no alcohol policy starting three days before any elections which hit us hard. Then on the 20th we were lucky to catch one of the last busses running at midday. In the evening we made plans for the next day – thinking that surely tourist shops and restaurants were going to be open. Luckily our favourite juice lady in the market hall informed us that there would be no fruit salads or papaya juices from any of the market stalls the next day, so we already knew that having a cheap fancy breakfast would be tricky. Still we were not prepared for what would await us the next morning. Not only were all shops closed and had 95% of the street vendors not turned up to work – the city appeared as if its inhabitance had vanished over night. The streets were empty.


Where is everyone?

No cars anywhere – even on the main roads that would take at least five minutes to cross on a normal day. On the way to our favourite coffeshop “Tia Gladys” Emma and me didn’t see more than a handfull of pedestrians. Gladly “Tia Gladys” was one of the few restaurants still open so we had an extensive breakfast and met Sarah, an in-your-face direct French very good at asking interesting questions. We actually got talking when she asked (almost demanded) to use Emmas phone and I ended up travelling with her for 10 eventfull days. She joined us and together we wandered the quiet city, walking in the middle of the highways and crossing empty traffic bridges.


Welcome to the ghost town of La Paz

We headed to the hip part of town to check it out but it didn’t impress us much with its coffe chains and soulless expensive restaurants. Finally we saw some people when passing a school that served as a polling station. As you are obliged to vote in Bolivia (not voting will result in being unable to deal with any state department in the next few months) there were quite a lot of people around the place and queueing up. However with street vendors and stalls selling cotton candy, popcoprn and ice cream the whole atmosphere seemed more like a street fair than a referendum.

Our day basically consisted of walking and eating so I’ll spare you the details, but with only a few kids riding their bikes and playing on the streets it is safe to say that La Paz seemed as far away from blockades and riots as possible. In the evening we found an illegal vbar that served us alcohol and we met some people from the wild rover party hostel. With no free shots, an alcohiol selection reduced to beer and wiskey and the strict rule not to leave the hostel while drunk they said it felt like prohibition times to them. The next morning though the ban was lifted, busses were running again and the streets turned back ihnto their usual crowded crazyness. I guess this is a good lection about Bolivia: it surprises you. Things never go as expected – but that would be boring anyway, right?

By the way – it turned out 52% of Bolivians said no, so Evo Morales won’t be running again after all.

Three things I have learned to appreciate while travelling

There are a lot of things we take for granted at home and often we don’t realize what they are until they are gone. Of course the thing I miss most are my friends and family, their conversations, hugs and laughs (cheesy but true), but there are some more unexpected things I have learned to appreciate. Here is a random selection of three things that stood out to me:

Hot showers – although every hostel claims to have them they are a rare treasure in Peru and especially Bolivia. I even had no water at all on some occasions. Also in Bolivia the “suicide shower” is really popular (thanks to the amazing Seven Grey for warning me about them). Electric cables and water are never a good combination, so if you touch the shower head you get an electric shock.


This shower was cold – can you figure out why?

Silence – this probably means that I have spent too much time in cities surrounded by honking cars, but even in the smallest village and especially in busses loud music or (in Peru) movies are constantly present. This makes me really appreciate nature, but still a little quiet every now and then even in inhabited areas is nice. I also nioticed while travelling with other people that I do need some alone time each day. Even just 10 minutes writing my journal or chilling in a hammock make me more attentive towards and appreciative of other people again.


This beautiful bus (apparently owned by Wilfredo) is probably blasting some cumbia

Short distances – and by short I mean rides of four hours or less. The sights that are “close to” a city or village are often six to eight hours away (one way) and getting to the next city or national park will usually take at least ten to twelve hours. Yes the views from the bus are spectacular at times, but little leg space and long hours make me cheer about every place on the way worth spending a night or two that will cut travel times.


On the road from Torotoro to Cochabamba