Tête en bas

Down under wandering. Archipelagoes to islands; beaches to deserts; mountains to cities.

Archive for the ‘People we meet’ Category

One week of perfect happiness

  • English: One week of perfect happiness
  • Français: One week of perfect happiness

What should I say, where should I start… I recognize I don’t really know. The week that’s just ending has kind of change my life. On the more positive way. I realize that since I’ve left Melbourne, a big part of my travel has become a personal journey. Meetings after meetings, amazing experiences ate amazing experiences… at such a hight speed! All that make me think, and think, and think. I’m becoming an endless stream of idea, inspirations and thoughts. My brain is just bubbling every where. I just regret I didn’t have the time to write all that goes through my mind on the last few days.

Mara has been the perfect conclusion of this interior journey. Mara who lives in a world that fascinated me. A world of energy, love, spirit, sharing… always connected to earth and air. Mara and her wandering flute… yes, I’ve find in her a spiritual guide. During one week, I’ve been a continuous stream of questions. I felt so many time as a child, eager to learn everything. « why… ? ». Mara give me back a lot of question too. Trying to know my own opinion, my own way of seeing things. Our two worlds have been facing each other. I recognize that mine is more rational, more reel. But is becoming more and more a non material one. This energy, that comes from people, from places, I’ve been feeling it for a long time now. I’ve always doubt of it. Always trying to find a explanation that would please my ex scientific brain. I’ve stop doubting. I’ve stop trying to find an explanation. I’ve just accept the way it is. Everything is energy. Any scientist will confirm that. You just need to find how sensitive you are to those energies. I’m sur that Mara, and the red heart of Australia, have both been a catalyzer on me. I’m feeling more. I’m more aware. I’m more open. And I’m really interest to see how I’m going to use all that. I’m finally awake.

There are lots of truth in this world. Everyone has its own, and I thing that lots of those truth are real and accurate. I’ve been wandering around the world for quiet a while know, looking for my own truth. I don’t agree with Mara on everything. My own truth is taking its own shape slowly. Yes, I’m still a learning kid. I don’t want to be put in a box. I don’t want to become the perfect hippie. Mara is no caricature. Mara is an archetype. I take in the hippie move what I like, what I’m interested in. Specially if I discover it by myself. And I leave what I don’t like. I’m still enjoying burgers. I don’t eat any seeds, or vitamins complement. I still enjoy gluten. And the word “mushroom” still make me think of “salad”. I don’t believe in spiritual elevation using drugs. I want to be awake, but by myself, with no drug involved. I’ll go at my own speed. But I often forget my shoes when I go for a walk. Walking barefoot remind me nice childhood memories. I’ve never stopped to love sunrise and sunset, and when the moon rise, I’m often watching the horizon line.

At Wide Open Space festival, a perfect morning music (understand “dubstep”) made me practice the staff just as I woke up, just for the pleasure of doing it. I’ve started doing it again. For one week now, my day starts with half an hour of staff practicing. Some didge too, i I have the time. This morning, after a little while, I even stop using the staff, to be more free to dance. With a perfect argument: “I dancing give me so much energy, why am I only dancing from 11 PM to 2 AM ?”. I don’t do any tai chi, or morning yoga. I’ve find my own receipt. My own truth. By myself, just randomly. And I love going this way.

The week end up on a fireworks, at Barunga festival. An aboriginal culture and sport festival. Mara really wanted to come, and I liked the program. There was no reason not to come! Alex and Petrina (with whom we really had an awesome but short week) put us in contact with one of the organizer of the festival. They were looking for 2 volunteers, starting friday morning. Just perfect! And that’s how we ended up in an aboriginal community, lost in the middle of nowhere. That’s where in met Byron, from California, and Beck, from Victoria Australia. Both living in the same universe than Mara. I’ve been only the watching. But they took me under there protection, and warmly bring me in there own world. We all met each other. We are all happy. The perfect happiness that come with those magical meeting. I’ll probably meet again Beck and Byron. I really hope so. And Mara? Mara is gone. Taking a huge part of me with her. And showing me my own daemon. Funny how subconsciousness works. The daemon I though mine was gone a long ago. I had confirmation at COmest. But a new one took its place. And that will be my next goal. Get rid of this unwanted guest. I’m feeling that Australia red heart will be perfect to help me in that.

Day 3: Hot Springs

  • English: Day 3: Hot Springs
  • Français: Day 3: Hot Springs

The rain stopped during the night. Good news. I saw to much sign “flood way” and I don’t really want to find a blocked road. I’m wondering how the relocation company would react if we’re late because of the weather. I don’t really want to check.

The good thing, when you drive a lot for the first two days, is that you can take it easy for the next two one. We’re planning to sleep in Katherine tonight. Nice opportunity to Mara and I to meet our next host. We only have 300 km to drive, and we’re looking forward our next stop: Hot Springs! Mara knows the amazing Umquat Hot Springs in Oregon, but we have no idea what to expect from this one. One thing is sure: expectations are hight!

We arrive on a big resort parking. The place seems really touristic, and we are a little bit worried about the price we’ll have to pay. We decide to have a look, just in case. To discover a very nice place, really quiet, and absolutely free! We can also swim in the river, a little bit further. A river at the perfect temperature for me.

Springs are also a time for meeting people again. Gabrielle find some of her friend, while I bump into Anna and Florent, and in our little tasmanian family. We decide to start with the river. It’s the first time I’m swimming since I’m in Australia, and I discover I was really missing it. Sometime, water is really cold, some time really hot. The river is a mix of different temperatures zones. The idea is to find a warm one, and stay in. We’re in a crocodile area, but a sign tell us that there is only river crocodiles here, and those one doesn’t try to eat human. Sometime, salt crocodiles swim up to here, but there’s trap, and none as been seen for a little while. So we’re suppose to be safe. Good news! After a little bath in the river, we decide to move to the pool, where the water is constantly at the same temperature.

One hot spring leading to another, we go on to the next. Tens kilometers further. People say that it’s a wilder one, way more natural. We discover quickly that it’s not really a hot spring, but more a hot river. There’s a few tourists, who knew that, and have floating noodles, and just follow the stream. As sportive as we are, we just do some swimming, in the middle of a paradisiac landscape. After a few turn, a ladder take us out of the water, so that we can walk back, instead of swimming up stream.

Quick little lunch break, and we are back on the road. The day is behind us now, but it was for a good reason. It was definitely great to take the time to swim and relax. We arrive in Katherine an hour later, just on time to meet Alex as he’s closing the art gallery. We take some time to talk with him. The first contact is really nice. He gives us a quick look of the house, where we’ll be able to park the van for the night. Looks really comfy and quiet. We’re going to love this place, I think.

We drive back to town, 7 km from here, to cook some food, and to listen to some music. The evening is really quiet and amazing. Philosophical talk, personal thoughts and story telling… once again, the link between the three of us is really strong, and I’m really happy with that…

Day 2: still going north

  • English: Day 2: still going north
  • Français: Day 2: still going north

If we wanted to sleep at the Devils Marbles, it was also in order to catch the sunrise in an amazing landscape. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen so many sunrise! And I think that I just love this feeling. I might almost even think that I like waking up early. My clock woke me softly from my sleep. Outside, the colors are already amazing. Gabrielle has a hard time to wake up. She seems to be more interested to enjoy the view from the van window. I quickly prepare three teas, grab my flute, and join Mara on her rock.

There’s magical moment in life. Moments you know you’ll never forget. You just have to close your eyes to remember it. Listening to Mara, singing and playing flute, while watching the sunrise, is definitely one of those moment. When everything just seems absolutely perfect, when you feel that you are at the perfect place, at the perfect time, with the perfect peoples. I tell her a story I had in my mind for quite a while, but that I didn’t have any opportunity to share yet. It’s a story about sun, sunrise, and solstice. One that just fits with this perfect moment. I discover that telling stories in english is a hard exercise, but that I can do. And that I like. I spend some more time with Mara, watching the landscape, and being thankful to the sun via our music.

Gabrielle is waiting for us in the van, still a little bit asleep. Quick breakfast, before we go exploring the neighborhood, under a daily light this time. We all go out our own pace, in our own direction. The other camper van are leaving, one after an other.

We are the last to leave. I feel that I left a peace of my soul behind me. I feel like, as in Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, I connect with all the surroundings. I might come back. Or maybe not. It doesn’t matter anyway. I’m feeling so well. I’m happy.

As the day before, there’s no real interest on the road. We just go on. We have an other objective for tonight: the Daly Waters Pub, who’s actually the only next interesting point on the highway. If the landscape south of Alice Springs is inspiring, the north looks less interesting. Still a little bit of a desert, but not enough for me. Kilometers follow kilometer.

Once more, we reach our destination just after sunset. The Daly Waters Pub is famous all over Australia. A pause that people should not miss. I easily understand why.

We bump into the tasmanian family again, who invite us to there table. There’s a show every evening, and the place is full. A one man show from an humorist, who tells jokes, stories, sings some songs, and share some thoughts. There’s definitely a great atmospheres, and lots of laughs. For the part I can understand… Quite often, I share a look with Gabrielle, before laughing… because we don’t understand a word! Anyway… we really enjoy the evening!


We go back to the van, and drive a few kilometers back, to a rest area, where will spend a quiet evening. It’s raining outside. A lot. I haven’t seen rain since I left Melbourne. It was not so long ago… but I’m quite happy to hear this sound again!

Circular perfection

  • English: Circular perfection
  • Français: Circular perfection

I woke up early. Very early. Not so long after I went to bed actually. Josephine was still awake, of course. He chatted a little, before she drove me to the place where the group was sleeping. I took a seat in the bus, and we left. In order to stop, less than an hour later, to catch an amazing sunrise on the Breakaway.

Dynamic in this bus is definitely different than with Cassie. More tranquil. More relax. That’s perfect for me, as I can take a nap. A long one… We arrive in Erldunda a few hours later. I leave the bus with all my stuff. They are turning left. I’m not. I have a little chat with a girl who works for the same company as Cassie. She confirms my thought. Perfect.

Ten minutes later, Cassie’s bus arrive. She’s quite surprise to see me. I can understand why I guess. She still has room in her bus, and she’s happy to take me with her. Specially because none of her passenger asked to seat in the front. She doesn’t have a copilot! What a strange feeling, two weeks later, to be back exactly at the same place… I’m finishing the tour I started with her.. like if Coober Pedy was just an amazing two weeks break… everything is exactly like before. We chat, make a few plan. She was thinking to go to Katherine in a few weeks. She tells me about a 5 days hike in this area. I note everything. Sounds really interesting. She finally drop me in Alice Springs. The circle is complete.

I meet Mara at her place. An other little moment of happiness. The pleasure of seeing people again is always great when you’re traveling! I’m going to stay at her place for the next three days before we leave to Darwin.

On the next day, she invites me to come with her for a small walk in town. She has to go to the other end of Alice Springs, at a friend place. I’m happy to go with her. When she tells me in which area we’re going, I’m almost certain about the exact place. We do a little detour to climb Anzac Hills who, in the middle of the town, give a very nice overview of Alice.

One hour later, I recognize without any hesitation the little path we’re following. To go to a house I recognize too. That’s the place where I dropped Ben a few weeks ago. That’s the place where Rachel stayed after the festival. When I tell my name to the guy who welcome me, he looks surprise. Yes, I’m this Sebastien. What a strange feeling, again, to feel that I know everybody here. I’m part of a family of people I haven’t meet yet. And there’s this comment that give me a giant inside smile. “Dynamic here completely change with Ben and Rachel, that’s great they came here”.

If I like seizing opportunity when they arise, I also like to see me as someone who creates opportunity. I like having people meeting other people thanks to me. I like to see things happening because of that… I definitely didn’t expect when I put my post on couchsurfing trying to find passengers, that all that was going to happen. I really feel that I created something. A micro change. Not so important, except for the people involved. And I really like it. Everything seems to happen the way it’s suppose to. Everybody seems to be at the good place. Probably a fatherly way of seeing all that, but I feel that everybody’s happy here, and that I can go on my on way, with a light heart. Life is just confirming that I’m doing right. And that’s an awesome feeling.

I’m leaving tomorrow, with Mara and Gabrielle. An other Maui campervan. There was no other solution, for a perfect circle.

Florian and Anna

  • English: Florian and Anna
  • Français: Florian and Anna

When I give a hand to Terry to feed the roos, he always introduce me saying that I’m from France. Or from Canada. We don’t really know. He then adds that I’m here to help for a little while. Quite often, people come to me after the feeding, and ask me a few questions. Asking me if I like my experience, how I end up working in a kangaroos orphanage, or if I like leaving with roos. Mots of the time (would say 9 out of 10), people who comes to me are from France. I usually complete the information, as Terry usually speaks quite fast, and might be sometime hard to understand. In a place like Coober Pedy, there’s not so much opportunities to meet people. Which is just perfect, as it is what I was looking for. But at the same time… well, talking with new people, from time to time, is nice too! Usually, we have a 5 minutes chat, and it’s enough.

I didn’t have a beer for quite a while. I mean a beer in a bar. Going to a bar when you’re alone is always strange… but today, I had quite a nice chat with Anna and Florian, and I decide to offer them to discover “Coober Pedy ‘ Night Life”. When I ask Terry if he can suggest us a bar, the question seems to surprise him. As he told us, on a sunday evening, we might find only one or two place open. Until 9PM. We decided to go to the Opal Inn, where we celebrate until it closed. At 10PM! Long time since I closed a bar!

Anna is in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. Here for a few months already. Florian, his brother, is visiting her for a few weeks. They have a van, and they are on a rod trip to Darwin. After sharing or schedule, we discovered that we might bump into each other later in Alice Springs. Or somewhere else… it was a quite evening, with a few interesting chat. Including the “aboriginal subject”. I still want to take my time about that. After living in Quebec for 10 years, I heard hips of thing about the “amerindian subject”. In a lot of different way. It didn’t take me a long time before I understand that it was a very sensitive subject, as people usually have quite extreme opinion on the question. It didn’t take me much more time to understand that it was exactly the same here, in Australia. Same interactions, same tensions… Here too, opinions are often quite extreme, on a subject that it’s wiser to avoid. Anna and Florian, just like me, seem to be really interest by the culture and the tradition…

Just before leaving the bar, Robert came to talk with us. In an approximate english, with an approximate pronunciation. We tried to exchange with him, as much as possible, without really understanding each other. Then Kinki join. Kinki is her aboriginal name. I tried to explain her that I really like the way it sounds, but she didn’t understand.

When we leave the bar, we ended up talking with a group of aboriginal. It was quite hard but, like in Alice Springs with Gabrielle, behind the unsure word, I was seeing amazing smiles. I still ended up feeling a little bit not really comfy. In a middle of 10 people, all quite drunk; even if they were all really friendly, I never like being with to much drunk people. We never know how they could react… any way, it confirmed me that I’m really interested to learn more, to understand more. If amerindian used to leave me coldly indifferent, I’m discovering that aboriginal intrigues me. In a way I don’t really fully understand. There’s a few aboriginal community and cultural center on Helpx. I think it could be a nice opportunity. We’ll see!

I share a few more words with Anna et Florian, and contact details to. Just in case!

Daily life in Coober Pedy

  • English: Daily life in Coober Pedy
  • Français: Daily life in Coober Pedy

I asked Cassie to drop me at Erldunda, as it saved me 200km. My plan was to hitch hike to Coober Pedy. “Only” 500km to do. It was an easy ride. I though… I staid at the gaz station for four hours. Talking to everyone. Seems that everybody was going north, or west. None was going south. Well… a few were going south, but had no room. Except this guy who “doesn’t pick up hitch hiker, for safety reason”. Yes, I looked pretty scary with my flippers in my back pack… The sunset. There were less and less car… I was thinking to build my tent, somewhere in the wilderness. But there is a campground at Erldunda. And they only charge $11. Cheap enough for me to pay. It took me an other 3 hours the next morning. I was starting to loose faith. Thinking that there might be place, in Oz, where hitch hiking was to complicate. But I was finally saved by two italian girls. They asked me for $20 for the gaz, that I was more than happy to pay. And I finally arrive at Josephine and Terry orphanage, in Coober Pedy.

It was six days ago. Already! Enough time to get my little habits. Life is not really hard here. I wake up between 9 and 10 AM, and take my time to check the last news on internet. Also trying to find what my next step will be… after that, it’s time to clean the roo yard. Just on time for the first public feed at 12. If there’s a group, or a lot of people, all the five older kangaroos have there milk bottle. If there’s not enough people, they just get some little snack.

The afternoon is about getting an area of the house ready to become an other kangaroos yard, so they can have more room. So it’s about putting up some fence and digging a few holes. When Terry or Jo need an extra hand, I often help feeding the younger one, who are on a four hours feeding schedule. Yes, day and night. Terry does the day shift, Jo the night one.

Evening is usually quite. Chat, cuddling with the young joeys, watching tv. I usually find some time to play flute or didgeridoo. And to do some more computer too. And it’s finally time for me to go back to my room. Yes, I’m sleeping in a caravan, in a backyard, in the middle of the desert. Yes, it’s cold during the night. But I love my caravan! Looks amazing!

And sometime, there is those special days. Where a South Korean TV crew come to film the orphanage. I ended up being interviewed, and I’m now wondering if I’ll be famous in South Korean in the next few weeks… and that’s also during this interview that my phone rang. Next week, I’ll have a job interview. On Skype. For a job I applied in Melbourne, a few weeks ago. Why not!

And there’s also this phone call, at the end of the afternoon, that sounds like an alert. Yes, a rescue team is needed. A few miner find a young joey, still alive. A new family member is coming. I jump in the car with Terry. He’s driving fast. Not because it’s a real emergency, I think, but because he use to be a Rally Car driver. We pick up the young lady. Her name is Prue. She’s only 3 months and a half, and she’ll be coming with us. What a strange feeling to hold her, as close to me as I can to keep her warmth. To feel her breath under the towel. To know that she had a mother, 8 hours ago, and she’s entering a complete and totally different world by now…

Alice and Gabrielle

  • English: Alice and Gabrielle
  • Français: Alice and Gabrielle

I needed to take a break. Rachel, Cassie and the other are amazing. But I met to many people on the last weeks. To many amazing meetings, just before leaving Melbourne. To many amazing meeting during the trip to the festival. To many amazing meeting during the festival. So yes… I needed a break. Sometime, just for me, when I would stop being social. My body confirmed that I need a break, as I start monday morning with a cold, and a brain who was unable to work for a whole day.

I left the festival, quickly as a thief, on monday morning. I was planing to take my time, relax, and probably help to clean the site. I changed my mind. I needed to go. To be alone. I apology to everyone. Say goodbye to anyone. Take my two backpacks, and leave. Thumbs up.

I arrived in Alice Springs little bit later. There’s nothing like an hostel when you want to be anonymous and alone. I took my computer, with nothing else in mind than taking it easy, trying to find an internet connexion to update my blog.

I like Alice Springs. A lot. I found there what I liked in Bali. What is, I think, common to every city where the weather is always nice. People living outside, in a very open city. Really green too. I was feeling well. It was a nice place to rest.

Jacques helped me to do some fencing before the festival. He’s french, and seems to be traveling in Australia on a motorbike. I didn’t ask him more detail. I met him again at the hostel. We had a short chat. Not so much. A little bit later, he came back with a friend. She told me “allo”.

One word was enough. No need to recognize the accent. No need to ask any question. I know only one country where people say “allo”. Her name is Gabrielle, and she’s from Montreal south shore. She’s been a little been surprised when I “laugh” at her because she was a 450. But she understand quickly. Yes, I’m what I pretend to be. A montrealer, with a different accent.

We met again the next day. Well, it’s pretty easy to bump into people you know in Alice Springs. We took sometime to talk. And… well, Gabrielle is traveling with a violin. I like people who travels with musical instrument. It allows a lot of unexpected mix. During the Wide Open Space, we manage to have a didgeridoo, a japanese, flute, an indian flute and an accordion playing together. Four musicians playing instruments from four different continents. As usual, I like that…

We sat down in the Todd River (dry) bed, sharing chat and musical improvisation, in a really simple and amazing time. With short break to talk with aboriginal people coming by. I know, I haven’t say anything about aboriginal people yet. It’s coming. Soon.

Gabrielle reacted when I told her that I was hitch hiking south, before coming back to Alice Springs and hitch hiking north. She’s looking for a travel mate, to hitch hike too. She’s thinking to leave Alice in two or three weeks. The timing might be good for her. We might have fun together, so… why not. Maybe… Well… Rachel was also looking for a travel mate. For a little bit later, after working a little bit in Alice. Should to the same thing, at sometime… and I just get news from Hripsine. She’s planing to leave Melbourne early June, for an Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin – Broom – Perth road trip. As she knows that I have the same project, she’s offering me to go with her.

All that remind me that I was looking for a break… that for the last three weeks, I was saying that I wanted to be alone, in the middle of the desert. I’m saying that I need to relax. To stop meeting people. To be alone. I take my decision. Tomorrow, I’ll leave Alice Springs. Going south, to Coober Pedy, slowly. Alone, finally.

It was without taking Cassie into account. She’s been working for two years in Alice as a tour guide. She loves the city, she loved her job. She’s back. In one day, she finds a new job. “I have a group, leaving tomorrow morning, for three days. Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. I might have a seat for you. Not sure yet, I’ll only know tomorrow at 5:45 AM”. Perfect for me. All my bags will be ready tonight. I’m leaving the hostel tomorrow. To Uluru, with Cassie. Or somewhere else, with my thumb.

It’s wednesday morning. It’s 5:45 AM. My phone rings. The big red thing is waiting for me. As my first experience in a tour group!

The Wide Open Space festival

  • English: The Wide Open Space festival
  • Français: The Wide Open Space festival

After spending so much time with my travel companion, as friendly and amazing they can be, I was feeling that I might need to be alone for a little while. At the same time, I wanted to stay with them, and to go on my own way. I take thursday really easy, just relaxing, without taking any decision… I finally decide, late in the afternoon, to take my back back, and go. Trying to hitch hike to the festival. I was missing hitch hiking… I didn’t have much food, but I decide to trust Rachel for that. Quite an unusual thing for me! Leaving Alice hitch hiking was little bit difficult… but as soon as I was out of town, every thing was easy again, and I arrive at the Wide Open Space festival. Maybe a little bit later than expected.

It was the first time I was working as a volunteer on a festival. I had too. My bank account doesn’t really allow me those kind of spending anymore. And apart of the financial aspect, the human aspect interested me too. But not on the first evening. I was looking for loneliness. To stop and relax, just by myself. I tell who I was, build up my tent, and went to bed.

What can I say about the Wide Open Space festival… i had a lot of expectation when I went to Confest. And I came back a little bit disappointed. By people, who were not that much into meeting other, and were way to serious about what was happening, and by the event itself, who didn’t do anything to gather us all together. There was no real reason, for us, to be there.

I went to the Wide Open Space with no expectation. And I came back completely and totally amazed, by an overwhelming experience. First of all, it was not a big festival. 500 people. Maybe 600. A little site means that you don’t have to carry all kind of stuff with you always. When your camp is 2 minutes walk from the main stage, you can easily forget something. But it also mean that you also see the same people. You smile to them. You start talking with no reason. And you’re quickly a part of a big family.

No workshop where you learn how to be happy. Nop. At WOS, people knows how to be happy, without having someone telling them how. It’s a big fest, where everything seems to be about happiness.

A few art work, here and there, different clothing style… as in Comfest or Burning Man, you have to live the experience to really understand it. It’s definitely not easy to talk about the openness of people, the happiness that was radiating from them. The laughs that were everywhere…

Someone told me not to have any expectation about music. I’ve bee nicely surprised. All the bands had something to offer. And there was all different kind of music. From metal to reggae, from electro to the single singer with is guitar. Everything, for everyone. I was a little bit worried about the reggae/hip hop first night, no much quiet for me… but on saturday, the music definitely evolved to something way more dynamic. More electro, more energizing. And on sunday… well, I start dancing around 2PM because the music was so intense…

Just for the pleasure of finding a negative point, I would say that once again, didgeridoos were missing. Like in Comfest, I felt like if I was the only one… I’m looking forward an opportunity to play with a few others!

Apart from the music, the “closure” ceremony was the other gathering element. When a group of people start climbing up the small hill, on the site of the festival, to watch the sunset. There was no burning giant piece of art. That was not a problem. Everyone was gathering at the same place, for the same reason. That’s all I was missing. All I was waiting for, in order to conclude those 3 days of magical happiness. Three days of dance, music, quick meeting and smile sharing.

Day 2 : kilometers 550 to 1100

  • English: Day 2 : kilometers 550 to 1100
  • Français: Day 2 : kilometers 550 to 1100

I don’t want to make things go faster. I just want the life in the van to find its own pace. We’re not in an emergency, and I don’t want to try to make everyone move quickly. Instead, I preferred to take it easy. The day starts in joy and happiness, and a lot of crepes.

The beginning of the day is not really different of the day before. Landscape is still the same, monotone. It’s nice to drive a lot.

Adelaide is quickly behind us. It was not planed to stop there, and driving threw just confirm me that there was no real reason to do so anyway.

When leaving the city, we follow the ocean for a little while. But we all know that he’ll soon disappear. After Port Augusta, we’ll turn right, on Stuart Highway. Ocean will then be only a souvenir. For a very long time. We decide to stop a last time on the shore, just the time to say bye to the ocean, et to try to put a toe in the water. Way to cold !

We continue with an other detour, to see a gorge Ben strongly suggest. We understand when we arrive there. The mountain is amazing. We take the time for a small walk that make every body happy. We even include a little climbing time, to have a better view from the height.

Back to the van, we take sometime to talk about the end of the day. Port Augusta is the last real point to buy food. After that, we’ll be in the middle of nowhere. Next town will be Coober Pedy. And it’s small. And it’s far. We have to buy all the food we’ll need in the next few days. In order to make it simple, I suggest that we split the different lunch and diner. One or two people will take care of them. Grocery and cooking. Quite efficient. Not so fast… A team start buying food, while I go behind the grocery with Cassie, to check the bin.

I heard after dumpster diving a little while ago, and tried for the first time with Bernt in Hobart. I was quite surprise by the quality of the food we found. This time, we get out of the bin with lots and lots of breads, a dozen of crescents, and a few bananas. Bread is just perfect, as we all agree that the option “sandwich while driving” was the perfect lunch.

Grocery stop take more time that I though, and I start feeling impatient. But we’ve been definitely saving on money. The day before, I was a little bit worried when I discovered that a full tank of gaz lasted for only 400 km. I think that the tank was not completely full. But to be sure, I started driving slower. Driving 85/95 instead of 100/110. Despite a not stop rising of the diesel price ($1.50 at the beginning, $1,96 at the end) we end up (including reloc saving) aping $75 each. Quite proud of me, as I’ve never seen a ride share between Melbourne and Alice Springs for less than $150. And the food? $45 each. For 5 days. We can all be quite proud of that to!

Grocery finally done, everybody back in the van, we go back on the road. To start the Stuart Highway. A road sign. A right curve. And the pleasure of hearing the GPS saying “in 1,212 km, turn left”.

Night has started for a little while. We want to enjoy as much landscape as we can. We keep on driing for an hour, before stoping on a rest area. Van is quickly in night mode, and we still have some time to talk quietly, before going all to bed, as the wise children we all are.

We all live in a Maui Campervan

  • English: We all live in a Maui Campervan
  • Français: We all live in a Maui Campervan

It’s the story of a canadian girl, an american guy, an indonesian girl, an australian girl, an australian guy and a french and canadian guy, who are in a campervan. Sounds like a joke, but it was not one. It was one of the most audacious sociologic experiment I ever tried. Gathering 6 peoples, who doesn’t know each other, and let them leave all together in the same van. Traveling 2,278 km in less than 5 days. Being sure that everybody is happy, and enjoy the trip. Yes, it was really audacious…

Once a year, my father organize an event called “les dragonneries”. This event gather thirtyish people during a long week end. Once, I heard him says that one of the reason he was proud of this event, was because it gathers peoples from all different kind of environment. People who would never meet if it was not of this event. It’s probably when I heard my father telling that that I start finding those “sociologic experiment” interesting. I tried some of those a few times, at a very small scale. It was one of the idea behind this trip. There was, of course, the wish to travel from Melbourne to Alice Springs keeping the cost as low as possible. But there was also a clear willing of getting to know others, in order to understand them.

Rachel.

Joshua.

Cassie.

Ben.

Indri.

And I.

Something in common? We all want to go to Alice Springs. We don’t want to spend to much cash. Nothing else. Randomness (or my subconscious, who knows!) wanted that we were three guys and three girls. Everybody seems to be happy about that, as if we were feeling that it will bring a kind of balance. And we will definitely need balance! As the organizer, my goal was simple: I wanted this small trip to be a good souvenir for everyone, and avoid as much tension as possible. No suspense at this time: this was clearly achieve, way over the expectations!

The meeting was on saturday morning, at 10 AM, at Totenham train station. Five minutes walk from the place were we had to pick up the van. To my surprise (there were couchsurfers involve!) no one was more than 10 minutes late. I knew everyone, a little bit. I met everyone quickly during the week. But it was the first time everybody gather at the same place at the same time. Knowing everybody a little, I was anticipating everyone roles. Planing how the tasks would be shared. Who would react how. We discovered, with Cassie and Rachel, that everyone respect the stereotype from his own country (countries for one of us).

Taking the van was an easy thing. The girl who take care of me was the same, one more time. She knows me quite well by now… it was the 3rd time after all.

He didn’t take long before the van was full with backpack and people. To my own pleasure, Rachel was the first one to take the copilot seat. In this trip, we were two with no plan for after the festival. Two who were thinking we might want to travel a little bit together after that. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know each other.

Rachel helped me to discover something about me I didn’t know, and definitely didn’t expect. I lived in Quebec for 10 years. During those 10 years, I’ve kept saying “Canada, I don’t know what it is. I’ve always been in contact with Quebec”. When I traveled to British Colombia (where Rachel come from), I realized that those people at the far hand of the country where not so much different than “us” in Quebec. A few months later, when I was driving across Canada, I realized that if British Colombia and Quebec where quite the same, all those between were definitely different. Strange feeling… that I discovered again with Rachel. As I did, she was trying to avoid tension, and make everybody happy. I felt that we were following the same stereotype. We were both… canadian. I was not french anymore. Neither was I quebecer. I discovered a citizenship I didn’t know I had. Rachel and Cassie both told me a couple of time that they never met any french like me. Maybe because from my french side, I just keep the passport. And some roots, really deep, and really localized.

He didn’t take me a long time to understand that there will be two different way of life in the van. The cabin, quiet and relaxing, and the van, in the back, more lively and on a party mood. In my previous relocation, I was alone with Iris, who didn’t really like to be in the back on the van when moving. As we were only two, it was quite easy to stop when one of us need something. With 6 people, it was definitely an idea to forget. Quickly, all passenger started to leave there seat, moving around. Moving, grabbing something to eat, watching from an other window, enjoying the back seat (transform to a bed for the first night, and until the end of the trip).

I liked this feeling. I liked to have those two difference feeling. Having people happy and partying in the back, and talking and relaxing in the front. When copilot started to change, I wondered if being in a front was a punishment (obliged to spend some time with the driver who doesn’t speak so much) or a reward (enjoy the landscape, relax, take it easy…). Links have been created quickly. And strongly. No one was has been forget in the process. The small family was doing well.

My role, I already knew it, was obvious. Anyone who know me knows that I always end up in this “position”. I was the father, the organizer, the driver. The one who has to think about everything, check that everything is okay, and that the van keep moving. All that was stressing me, a little. I know how slow a 6 persons group could be. I know how difficult it can be to move a group, even as small as this one. I was expecting to spend most of my energy doing that. I didn’t plan that I was going to be helped in my task. Cassie mothered all of us, checking that everyone was feeling okay. Rachel was definitely the older sister, who supervise everyone in the family, because parents are to busy. She took care of me, providing me with sandwich/water/music each time I had a special little query. Perfect copilot, available pour short little chat sometime, and sometime quiet, reading her book or writing. Ben was the teenager in crisis. Passionate by energy, electricity, battery and solar panel, he was giving as much information as anyone want to listen to. And disappear from time to time when someone disagreed with him. Josh, as a preteen, tried to take is room to. To show that he existed, and can tell interesting things to. Indri was the youngest one, quiet, trying (and managing!) to take her place in this crazy family.

Don’t think I’m saying what I didn’t say. I had great time with everyone. I would not have swap anyone for someone else. The result was not perfect, but was really inspiring. But there was still a question remaining. What was going to happen in Alice Springs? When a group form, a dynamic starts. And usually stop at the end. Everyone was it’s own plan at the end of the adventure. I had to find an other couchsurfer, Cassie was going to a friend. So was Ben. Josh had already booked a hostel. Rachel was a little bit lost, thinking that we were going to have the van for the festival. And Indri had no idea what she was going to do next. We could have stop at Alice Springs, everyone going on his own after that. That’s what I was feeling. When Cassie said that we could have a debrief dinner, I was sure. Once everyone settled down, I was not sure if it was a good idea to see us again so soon. I was thinking that everyone might need to breath alone for a little while…

It’s not really easy to sum up 5 days of interaction between 6 people without writing pages. It’s not really easy to describe the trip either. But it’s coming… soon.

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