You are sitting roadside in a fruit orchard. This is probably the filthiest you have been in your trip so far. And why? Because yesterday you hiked The Rhune in the Pyrennes Atlantics with 70+lbs strapped to your back. No problem. 2 hours up. 2 hours down. After your descent, you asked a man to drive you to the local pub for a triumphant beer.
Sometimes your indulgences take precedence over your wits, and you soon found yourselves starving with no easy-made food source that met your nutritional requirements. You staggered out of town, wearily, turning up your nose at white bread baguettes, and commenced you Long March down the highway. Plain brown rice it tould be. But when you are feeling at your lowest of lows in terms of hunger and fatigue, God gives you a fruit orchard—and a fig tree. To put it another way, in a day, you will shit Baby Jesus after gorging yourselves on figs, immediate sources of fructose and glucose, in order to replenish your energy stores.
Today’s blog entry is called: Things You Learn From Being Homeless: tips and tricks for maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.
1) A stove is essential for food satisfaction. Take it from someone who dabbled in raw foodism. Warm food at the end of a hard day, as you are feeling the chill of night creep in, does a body good. But rather than invest in one of those cookers that run off little cans of butane (fuel can be found in sporting goods stores for about 4 euro a pop), you use a little can that runs off burning alcohol (spirits). This can has little more technology than a tin can placed inside another tin can, with a few holes poked into it, but works perfectly. The fuel can be found in any super market and hardware store, where painting supplies are found, for about a euro per liter (we make each liter last about 5 days). Our kit comes with the cooker, and one ½ liter pot with a lid that doubles as a non-stick frying pan.
2) Find a source of coffee. That is, if you are into it. With this little cooker kit, we make coffee at the start of every day (filtered twice through a cone and supplemented with a couple teaspoons of instant espesso mix. This is then savored with some dark chocolate and about 30 minutes of reading out loud from whatever book we are sharing at the time. The coffee gives us a reason to get up in the morning, dulls the fatigue from the day before, and gives us the creative energetic push we need to figure out our next move.
3) Baby wipes. These babies (pun intended) are found everywhere for a reasonable price (about 3 euro a bag, or 3.5 euro for two bags in wholesale stores. They are compact, open easily, and travel well without spilling/leaking. These are essential for outdoor toileting (numbers 1 and 2), giving the “crotchal region” a good wipe-down at the end of a sweaty hiking day, giving the face and body a quick cleanse from dirt and sweat, cleaning the hands from cooking, and even work well for washing the dishes when there is no water to spare.
4) Tupper ware. Nothing fancy. Just make is spill proof and durable. You won’t go into detail on how useful these are. You have used them from just about everything: transporting foood, soaking grains, drinking, eating, packing, stabilizing other things in your packs… Your three ½ liter boxes came from Lidl for 3 euro.
5) Cheap blue tarp. You originally bought one of these to function as a footprint for your tent. The footprints at Eastern Mountain Sports were 30 dollars. Your tarp was 2.95. It functions just as well as a footprint, and also works as a picnic and beach blanket. It is waterproof, and folds nicely to slip under the bottom of your bag so that every time you put your bag on the ground, the bottom doesn’t get wet.
6) Re-usable shopping bags. Everyone needs bags. You have half a dozen uses for these, from shopping, to seperating food from dishes, to collecting dirty laundry, to making quick trips into town, to using as a butt pad on the ground, to usuing as a cooking mat in dry grassy areas.
7) Sleep on the outskirts of town. At this point, you have slept on seaside cliffs, cattle fields, corn fields, wheat fields, orchards, forests, next to highways… but the best place is definitely the circle of grass in the middle of a highway on-ramp. Close enough to the city to be bug free, hard to access, gives no reason for people to frequent or vadalize, is not privately owned, lulls you to sleep with the white noise of passing vehicles, serves as an alarm clock when the people are driving to work the following morning. These are usually tree covered, or offer high grass to obscure your tent and your toiletting.
8) Never pay for camping. Ever. There is always good camping around campsites, and you can always sneak into their facilities. Why pay to place your tent on hard, flat ground, to be surrounded by other people and their noise, when you can have a soft, inclined, private space with a nice view, and be less likely to have your stuff stolen by your neighbors.
9) Tell strangers a lot about where you are headed, and how hard it has been to get where you are. You might play it up a little, but the more people feel inclined to feel sorry for two, sweet girls who are “roughin’ it” on the road, the more likely the drive extra kilometers out of their way, give you free food, and offer you local secrets and advice.
10) Salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, butter, honey, mustard, tomato paste. Yes, they take up space, but combine in innumerable ways to make any dull combinate of staples taste delicious. All of very cheap (barring the honey. If you like, you can collect all the free sugar packets offered in every restaurant/cafe and use those instead).
11) Know that the most beautiful things and experiences in the world are free. You just can’t be too lazy and/orf pampered to enjoy them.