As my journey through living full time in a van continues, I thought I would continue to shed light on the lesser advertised realities of my #vanlife experiences. This post just runs through the latest things that have gone wrong and anything that opposes the general perfect Instagram vision of living in a van.
As we live in our van 24/7, and we don’t stay in campsites to save money, we occasionally have run in’s with the police. This has been reported in other blog posts I’ve written as they have happened, although I think it’s another thing that is overlooked on most #vanlife posts. This is just a little more relevant today, as we were bothered by police twice in about 10 hours. Firstly we were parked in a mall car park, other vehicles were parked, no one in them I guess, but we were woken at about midnight by an officer who asked to see my information. I did as I was asked and he asked me to make sure we left by 6 am, and warned me about thieves. If there was no language barrier I might have reminded him that instead if bothering me, who is doing nothing but sleeping in my van, and actually did his job, there might be less thieves. Now before it’s mentioned, I know that a parking lot is private land, and therefore we could have been moved on immediately, however then the same should apply to the numerous vehicles that were parked overnight too. We take up no more space and are not bothering anyone.
We moved at six as requested and tried to park elsewhere until morning and tourist attractions were open. We parked next to what can be simply described as a busy slightly hilly road, the opposite to where anyone would choose to camp. We waited out the morning here and when we were eating a little breakfast we were again bothered by the police, who again told us we could not camp, as if we would camp in this shit position, even after we explained we were not camping here, he proceeded to take our information. Now, my point is, that if I was sat in my car eating would he have bothered me? I think not, however it’s the same thing essentially. Again they repeated that we could not camp and left us to it. I can’t help but think the public would be better served by a police force that did something worthwhile rather than bothering tourists, as well as this, the amount of litter at the sides of roads, people using mobile phones at the wheel and other violations such as dangerous driving seem to be overlooked as the police are dealing with the serious issue of me eating my breakfast at the side of the road!
Aside from these two recent examples, most scenic locations that you would imagine parking your van; next to the sea, on the coast, overlooking mountains or a stunning view, surrounded by Forrest and so on, nearly all these locations are accompanied by a no camping sign. So we run the risk most of the time, and nearly all the time are left alone or not seen, however there is always a gnawing feeling in the back of your mind that you may be disturbed at some point. Also, having British plates on the EU mainland seems to have painted a target on us, as when speaking to other European campers, no one seems to have as much bother as we have. Maybe it’s just luck, maybe not, either way it’s irritating and no Instagram #vanlife post seems to shed light on being woken by the police, so I will!
The return of the z’s
Recently I have been going through a spate of watching zombie related programs and films and I think this is influencing my own battle, my own version of zombies, moZkitos, these z’s are a pain in the arse! Every evening as I sleep I’m woken time and again by zzzzzz and then it landing on my face or biting any exposed body part sticking out of the duvet. Each evening before bed i do a perimeter check of the van, sweeping each wall and every surface, just incase there is a z lurking, waiting for the bite! This is my own apocalypse….
In zombie films they usually have random or cool weapons, daryl’s crossbow, the modified baseball bat in z nation, chainsaws and so on. Well I have the ultimate weapon to kill mozzies, a rolled up notebook, which is now spattered in blood and remains, I call it the killer! I’ve taken to sleeping with killer, he sits by my side just waiting till an attack is launched and together we hunt and kill the enemy.
The other night was the ‘night of nights’, as we were preparing for bed, we found mozzie after mozzie. One after the next, we killed them all, I felt a little like I was fighting hydra Z’s; ‘for everyone we killed, another two took its place’, we were lining them up! Jess even joined in and used the dexter book she is reading as a tool of destruction. We must have killed ten or more. Searching high and low, until we found them and killed them. That night we slept soundly for the most part, a job well done and the van littered with z corpses all around! The fight goes on…
It’s not all doom and gloom, the next morning I woke up to the sun shining off the water, and opened the door to the sea breeze and beach that were on my door step. It’s moments like these that remind me how lucky I am to be here and be experiencing some of the things that I and others dream about, minus the red lumpy bites all over my body!
This is also a reoccurring topic, however this time it’s less about me and more about others. On this trip I have needed to make use of public facilities more than any other time in my life, and it’s amazing what state you often find them in. I’m not sure if there is a manual somewhere on how to use public toilets, but it seems many have read the one that states that you should piss, shit and spit anywhere but in the toilet bowl, I mean seriously how did shit get on the ceiling? It was hanging there like a stalactite! There is also piss everywhere, each time I use the toilet I spend half my time cleaning up, yeah that’s right cleaning up other people’s piss so I can use a toilet, it’s fuckin disgusting, holding my shorts up to save them from mopping up the piss drenched floors. Toilet paper on the wall? Do people piss on the wall and then cover up the deed with toilet tissue as though no one would notice? So, rant over, but what the fuck is wrong with people?
The washing of myself and my clothes
In most vanlife videos on Facebook, hollister models run from the sea or take part in extreme sports before returning to the cliche classic VW camper, although it never shows how they get clean after? Maybe a cut of them wiping baby wipes over every orifice or trying to hang their solar shower in the trees would bring a little reality to proceedings, or even a group hug scene where everyone’s face grimaces from the lingering body odour? Alas, this would never happen and instead they would no doubt find a jungle near by with a picturesque waterfall and bathe in slow motion…
We are lucky as we have a shower, so are able to stay relatively clean every few days. We don’t have the water supply or waste storage for more regular showers. Although even to some I’m sure this would be a no no as showers are ‘needed’ everyday. Jess though this would also be the case but she is finding the current situation just fine. It shows how accustomed we have become with having these facilities on tap, no pun intended!
As for clean clothes, I’ve become a bit of a hobo, I know the shorts I’m wearing have not seen the washing for over two weeks, I don’t think they smell, and occasional dunks in the sea is the same as washing anyway? It’s simple math, if I wear the same clothes over and over, I have to clean them less! That said in Sardinia I think we reached peak storage of dirty washing, as we had a limited supply of fresh water. We try and freeload as much as possible, so finding public water sources is key, however, if these are in short supply the washing does not get done, and is therefore just piled in the front of the van, nice!
Hand washing clothes is not the worse thing in the world and I’m not going to complain about this, in fact I don’t mind it, although it would be easier in a normal sized sink. However, as well as finding water to wash clothes, you need space to dry them. Now this is fine when static as you can tie a line to nearby trees etc, although on the move it’s a little tougher and at times every possible hanging spot is taken as clothes dry; the tops of doors, the curtains, an improvised washing line across the front seats, even hanging off pots and pans. This all helps to keep on top of things, but makes life a little more clustered in what is already a small space!