We are hitchhiking on someone else’s roadschooling dream at the moment. Friends we met at the very start of this year, when we were just a few weeks on this fair New Zealand soil, at the unschooling retreat in Foxton. (Going to that retreat was one of the best things we could have done, arriving new here. We made so many fast friends and felt like part of an instant tribe. We held the third unschooling retreat just down the road from our yurt last weekend- 120 unschoolers in the mountains…. Awesomeness.)
Anyway, just one of these families happened to be travelling around the country in a bus. Kind of like us at the time, but with double the children and with indefinite travelling plans, where as we were basically on a hunt for a spot to furrow down our wandering roots.
We kept connecting with Us In A Bus (it’s not actually their surname but you wouldn’t know it to hear us refer to them) through the year and on Monday we began a little holiday with them, our buses united on the road once again.
We are having a bit of a lush time … Totally buzzing out on their nomadic lifestyle. It is helping us recall our hoon around Europe last year (I’m remembering swimming in lakes beneath beautiful sunsets and Tim is remembering banging his head a lot and not having anywhere to do a poo.)
I love Ange and Hamish’s dream, I am totally loving sneaking in with it for a bit. It is a dream fuelled by Lego, sand castles and espresso.
They had safe jobs, a house in a nice town, four happy boys. And then they bought a bus, and began roaming NZ, playing and learning together. Soon they discovered they loved it and sold their house, establishing the bus and the road as their only home. And now they are all happy.
Ange was explaining this morning the rut she felt stuck in before. Tied to a mortgage, no time for fulfilment.
It was when their youngest child was one, after a bout of health issues, that Ange realised that the isolation she felt was having a serious impact on her sanity. They realised that something had to change, if not everything. At that moment they began planning a path out. It took them a year but now they have the life Ange has always imagined was possible for them.
Ange describes wanting a community to bring their kids up with, and somehow, through the freedom of life on the road, they are discovering this. Communing with families all over the country.
They have found places to stay through online networks (like home education Facebook groups) and friends of friends of friends. Sometimes staying a night, sometimes two months if everyone is enjoying themselves.
They’ve had hitch hikers having a sleepover in their (tiny) lounge and have rolled out an extra bed for a visit from Nana.
The boys build stuff and play board games and draw and read and climb and dig and explore, Ange and Hamish taking it in turns to either play or work, running their online businesses with their excellent mobile internet and solar power.
Ange is the driver of their eleven metre beast, wrapping it around some of New Zealand’s gnarliest bends, and Hamish is in charge of meals with each boy choosing a favourite dinner to eat once a week.
In some ways their life is like every other large family’s- they eat around 5:30 each night, time is spent helping the boys navigate tussles, there can never be too many stories read to them, or enough biscuits.
But in other ways it is completely and utterly different. They are free to go wherever they want, they are together all day and all night, they learn from whatever it is they happen to be experiencing.
Last night we parked up on a magnificent beach, putting our buses nose to nose. Right now I am typing this up, looking at the rain thrashing the window and the sun trying to zap the ocean but failing.
The school bus has just driven into the bay, tooting it’s horn frantically, as if trying to round us all up.
But the classroom isn’t for these boys. They are too busy playing for that…
It isn’t everyone’s dream- it is theirs and they have found a way to live it.
And for a little bit, we are living it with them.
Well… drinking their coffee and using their whizzy internet, at least.