Tuesday, January 07, 2014

LIVE from The Abel Tasman in New Zealand!

Vol. III, No. 11

Anna in her "House Bus" in Golden Bay, NZ
GOLDEN BAY, ABEL TASMAN - She lives in a bus. And believe it or not, that was her dream. Twelve years ago, New Zealander Anna wanted to own her own home, but she didn't have enough money. Her then-boyfriend suggested the somewhat unthinkable: buy a bus, and convert it into a home. This suggestion from anyone else might've been ridiculous, but Anna's boyfriend had grown up a "gypsy" she told me, in converted house trucks. He knew how to make it happen, and she had the determination.
So Anna found an old school bus, bought it, and began making it into what it is. And what it is is a two-story, two-bedroom cottage on wheels, painted in deep reds and forest greens, outfitted in thick tree-trunk wood planks with a kitchen, bathroom, and shower. There is no television; there are only books. Her 12-year-old daughter lives on the top floor, with french doors opening to her own private deck.

Yes, I said 'her daughter' - Anna, now 35, has a little girl, who has spent her entire life growing up in the "House Bus," as they call it. Dutifully, I asked all the obvious questions: Where did her daughter go to school? (At first, she was home-schooled, now she's at a traditional school.) Did they stay in one place all the time, or did they roam the country? (Off and on, depending on the season.) How do they bathe and use the toilet? (Normally, but they have to dump waste and they refer to the container that dumps as "the briefcase.")

But, really, what I wanted to know was, now that Anna has led such an unusual life, bringing up a daughter on her own and in such an extraordinary way, what is her dream now? What does a woman dream of doing, after leading a decade-long existence in a bus, home-schooling her daughter, all on her own? And so Anna told me.

Inside Anna's House Bus, Golden Bay NZ
For five years, Anna has been a student, and she's just about to graduate to become a counselor. She'd like to turn the house bus into a counseling destination for patients, a kind of sanctuary for people to come and talk and feel safe. That would likely mean Anna and her daughter moving into an actual house, and giving up life in the bus. This didn't seem to faze Anna. Nor did my requests for photos.

"Do you mind if I tweet this?" I asked.

"What's a 'tweet'?" Anna responded.

Even better, Anna then told me she needed to get on the road. She was headed to a "fire bath," she said.

"What's a fire bath?" I asked, incredulous.

Patiently, Anna explained.

"It's a bathtub, with a fire beneath it. The fire heats the water."

"You mean, you're going to sit in a cauldron. To bathe. Right?" I persisted, still incredulous.

"Yes," Anna said.

Well of course.

Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you follow your life's wildest dream. LIVE from Mongolia is available on Amazon.com, bn.com, and in bookstores from New York to New Zealand.

No comments: