6 August: The Camping Life

Last night I had a really nice chat around the central fireplace with a group of people. A married couple and Dick the guy who works here at the caravan park. The couple were from Melbourne in their 60’s. They travel 4 months of the year and have 3 children. They are well off. The husband was a builder and then worked at the Victoria Markets as a fish monger. The wife was a strong Greek lady with firm ideas. She had some problems with renting her house to the government. She said they sub-let it to Somali refugees. She had a negative view of them and I felt my inner feeling to find some middle ground or a place for understanding. All conflict is misunderstanding. The life in Sudan is very different from Melbourne. One of the issues was a down water pipe was broken by the children. These people didn’t have much money but they were responsible for the damage, under tenancy law their bond would have to cover it. As they are refugees the government should be handling it. Turns out this Greek couple ended up paying and they felt bitterness about it. They originally felt their house was in safe hands with the government to find it was costing them money. Then the Somali family decided to have a BBQ inside and burned the carpet. For me as she was telling me I could see the cultural differences. Certainly in aboriginal communities they used to light fires inside the house. It turned out the government only gave them $700 which they said was around $3,000. So the long and short of it was she had a negative view of the people. I tried to say to her the cross cultural issues and yes it was the government’s responsibility to compensate her. I said not all Somali’s were like this. She seemed to think because they spoke good English that they would be socialized. It takes us all our lives to learn our culture. I tried to plant some seeds of empathy, but I am not sure she was convinced. We got onto more friendly discussion around her family and traveling. It was a nice conversation. They went off and it was just Dick and I chatting away.

We talked about life and he shared with me that he is very easy going. He has been married for 43 years. He had grown up children and he and his wife came to the caravan park as guests and then were invited to be here. He told me he would never hurt any person. He said he admired me for going it alone, I explained to him being alone is actually the best way to seek inner peace. I am not distracted and I don’t feel I’ve missed out. This journey will be good for me as I manage any issue that comes up and have to make decisions to get myself sorted out. That is what will empower me, I am not relying on anyway. Perhaps this is the first step to self sufficiency. I looked up to see the most beautiful clear sky of stars. So lovely to watch the fire burn down to embers and chat with a new friend, sharing life. I feel very blessed to meet people.

I decided to go to bed, had a warm shower. It gets very cold here at night. This was my first night in the tent. To my surprise the tent is basically a mosquito net with a plastic fly over the top. I realized it is probably better for the tropics, not really the desert. To ease my concern about it I just said to myself see it as shelter, it is not going to insulate. I have a blow up bed and sleeping bag with a few blankets. I got a hot water bottle. It was funny earlier that night I saw some bikies, they had Harley Davidson on their shirts and quite a neat set up of trailers with bikes. I met one of their partners earlier. Anyway the blokes watched their girlfriends/wives wash up and then when they went, one of the guys was filling a hot water bottle. I said good on you that will keep you warm. The other called him a sheila (woman). I said to him, there is nothing wrong with being a sheila, if the hot water bottle works that is good. I said in Afghanistan (then was cut off)… Then he said something. The other bikie said what did you want to say about Afghanistan, I said they have hot bottles to keep them warm. I didn’t remember to tell him they have containers where they put hot coals. I saw these pots in Kashmir as well. In Afghanistan these heaters are under a thick table cloth, so they all sit on the floor with this thick cloth and warm from beneath. In those countries it is cold. Anyway, I smiled at the older bikie but I got my point across. I said to him I am sure the blokes will agree with you but as a woman, I think it is fine to be like a sheila. They took it, didn’t expect it, but there was no negative feeling between us. I wished them a good night.

Some of the challenges I found with camping was trying to remember where I’ve put things. I spent today trying to organize myself to make sure things are in logical places and that I don’t shuffle things around too much. Too much work in trying to find things, I found myself going back and forth, it was exhausting. I also got very cold and didn’t sleep most of the night. I remembered I had a foam yoga mat but I was too tired to get it. Anyway, I slept later in the morning then the bikies (across from me) decided to leave, the bikes are pretty loud and one sat there with the engine running. I didn’t want to dance out in my jimmies so I just waited for them to go and smiled to myself. Then the heat came and the tent was too hot. Talk about hassle. I just got myself up and went for breakfast. They have cooking facilities here so that is very handy. I did chat to the people about being cold. I was dreaming of a beanie the night before and blow me down if one of the folks doesn’t make them. Turns out the husband is the knitter and he has a round wheel that he winds his wool around. He does it for his caravan club, he knits beanies as prizes. So his wife wangled one for me. They sell for $70 but they gave it to me. There is no way I could buy it. I was deeply grateful and feel confident my head won’t be cold. I received another wise tip. I was told that air mattresses suck the heat out. I was advised to put plastic between the top of the blow up mattress and me. I thought I’d use the yoga mat as well as plastic to insulate. I will tuck everything in so it doesn’t slide off the sleeping bag. Small practicalities.

I had a walk through the town today of Mitchell. I noted the 3 pubs in this one horse town. I imagined men working hard and feeling to drink, although I wondered at alcoholism as well. I also found out about the sulphur smell in the water. We are consuming water from the Great Artesian Basin. I will post up information about this incredible underground sea. It is indeed bore water.

There were quite a few mod cons in the town but really the Boab trees blow my mind. They are so fat and old. They are the most unusual trees I’ve ever seen, I find myself fascinated by them. I will edit photos tonight and when I get a chance, probably next week I will upload the photos. So you can get a feel for what I am seeing. I saw some great artwork (graffiti) under the bridge but I didn’t get to see the 8 foot snake.

I decorated my car today so it looks more fun. Found some great stickers and painted a love heart and said (love) life. Did my washing and cooking. I have to say I thought of women and all the domestics they do, I found doing everything quite tiring. I am sure there live are hard. I am not a mother but I do reflect on the lot of women. You have to be very organized to run a family and it is physically tiring work. I sense many get overtired and grumpy. The nagging is exhausting for them to get others to help. However, I wonder if there could be courses to train families on how to work as community rather than one central person controlling the situation. On the one hand I am sure others give up as one has to have things a certain way, then on the other hand, working as a team would take the load off, it teaches responsibility and sharing responsibility. Just a thought there.

Anyway, I am comfortably typing away here under an open air shelter. I can hear country music and see people gathering around the fire. The people next to me are setting up their caravan and a nice breeze is gently tickling the trees. Most of the people here are retired and living it up whilst the living is good. I enjoy their company. I had a chat with a group of them today who tell me they are tired of the bush poet. I was sad to hear this as he is really a great poet, but they have heard him for 2 years and they want to occupy the central fireplace to meet others and socialize. I can understand that. So they are having some tension with the manager. I asked them if they wanted me to have a word with the manager. They were for that. So I did and told him I am into conflict resolution. I said I understand there is some conflict here. The group feel they don’t have the fireplace space and they don’t want to listen to the poet. Diplomatically I told him the poet is great (I meant it of course) but I wonder if there could be a win/win where the people get the fireplace and perhaps set up another space for the poet so others can benefit from his talent. I thought a speakers corner. It would be nice to hear others speak of poetry as well, always there is so much talent in people. Anyway, he said next year there will be no problem, he said he is going to do that and set up a second space. He said they are not listening. Funnily enough they thought the same of him. What I found was always the essence of conflict is that people feel they are not heard. I suggested to the manager that he just let them know that he is going that. Just clarify communication. If it were me I would say ‘I hear what you are saying and I respect you would like a social space, we can organize to have the bush poet in another place so others can benefit, so you are all happy’. Communication is what smoothes relations. They are regulars here so they feel a sense of community in the park. It was interesting they were demonizing the poet, but really the problem is managements. I reflected on people and politics, it is everywhere. Ultimately it is about sharing power. However, most people don’t learn how to resolve conflict to really look for ways to hear the other and seek out a win/win. It should never be personal but creative in truth.

So on that note I am going to make a soup and work on my photos.

Hope you are having a lovely day. Do what you love, it is worth it and so are you. Life is waiting for you to embrace it.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”