You must have time when living in a Land Rover! You can’t be in a rush. Living in a regular home with the regular conveniences we get used to getting simple things, like brushing our teeth, done without much ado. However, living in a Land Rover most everyday tasks take twice as long. However, before that turns you off… look at it this way, it becomes part of the experience!
First published 6th January 2015
[This was pre-rebuilding the back of our Land Rover]
Why are we traveling Africa?
We’re on a mission to help people saving wildlife.
I’ll share a few everyday tasks… and you may be surprised how much fun daily chores can be… or can they?
Depending on if we put them up for the night (due to rain or heavy dew) we begin by setting up our two chairs and the table, usually in a sunny spot with a nice view. Then out comes the kitchen duffle, we’ll need the cutting board, bowls, spoons and paring knife.
I climb on the step and open the top loading fridge, hook door to the net to keep it open and reach in for an apple, a pear, a papaya and the box of juice. Items like bananas and pineapple are stored in a soft sided insulated lunch cooler.
As there is no kitchen sink it’s off to the nearest water source (sometimes it’s our onboard tank with easy to use spigot.) Once washed the fruit are ready to be cut up. Cereal and our nuts-and-seed mix is stashed in our food drawer. Add some juice (milk goes bad to quickly) and were ready to enjoy breakfast while watching the birds. In most places we camp there are birds and generally quite a few species that can be spotted right from our camp. At times one or two come looking for a morsel.
Clean up requires mozing over to the nearest faucet and using as little water as possible to wash the dishes. If water is of a premium (no water other than what we carry with us) the paper towels and wet wipes come in handy.
Taking a Shower (using the toilet)
Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder! Taking a shower requires pulling a set of clean clothes out of the duffle, grabbing the toiletry bag and towel, then trotting off to the (hopefully) outdoor shower with (hopefully) ample and constant hot water. Before showering you must hang up your clean clothes in a dry part of the shower stall, take out your soap, shampoo and foot scrubber (essential if wearing flip flops for any length of time.) Remove clothes and place in a spot that will also stay dry. Aahhh! A shower feels heavenly when out camping.
Once all washed up the trick is getting your underwear and pants on without getting them all wet from the puddles on the floor. Here’s where your balancing exercises really pay off!
Then its walking back to the camp, stuffing the dirty clothes into the laundry bag under the back seat, hanging the towel over the chair to dry and putting the toiletry bag back in its place (mine is behind the back seat.)
As space is limited so are the change of clothes, so washing when the weather is good and we’re staying put for the day is important. We have two tubs, one for washing the second for rinsing. On wash day its time to grab the laundry bag and head for the faucet, or some camps have a wash area. After giving those arms a workout its air drying time on the portable clothes lines. If its sunny and the least bit windy everything is dry in no time, if rain moves in, well then, that’s a different story.
We rarely make a fire… wood comes from trees and so many of them are being cut down we don’t want to contribute. Plus, I dislike campfire smoke. For us, a small collapsible gas cooker works well and is super convenient.
As a pescatarian here’s where the large fridge is great… for storing fresh produce and a few pieces of chicken for Russ… not to mention dark chocolate (definitely one of our staples.)
So what’s for dinner?
Before the preparations begin the kitchen duffle bag gets pulled out of the back of the Landy. The chairs and table get moved to a suitable spot… in our out of the sun (depending on temperature) and preferably protected from the wind (the gas flame on the cooker works better.)
When available we love fresh vegetables. They now get pulled out of the fridge, placed in a tub and its off to the nearest faucet to give them a good wash. Once cut up we throw a selection of marrows (zucchini), squash, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, carrots, broccoli) doused with a generous helping of our favorite South African seasoning (Ina Paarson) into the pan to steam.
When there’s no water we use some of the 55 litres we carry on-board with us. (Russ filling the on-board tank in photo above)
When there’s no fresh produce it’s time for a can of beans, can of tuna and crackers. Sure we have more variety, depending on what’s at the local grocery.
We rarely have bread and opt for whole wheat crackers instead… they don’t squish and are very good with peanut butter and honey.
After dinner the dishes are hauled off to get washed and everything gets packed back up and secured in the Landy. In many places there are wild animals that are attracted by food, even by cooking utensils. We’ve heard that Hyena’s will even run off with shoes.
After clean up its time for something sweet. Dessert is always important. For us dark chocolate and Marie biscuits are especially yummy.
So although dinners are relatively simple its not just like walking into your kitchen at home. But there’s nothing quite like eating outdoors watching the sun go down or enjoying the evening sounds of nature.
The longer we live outdoors the less we worry about privacy it seems. Not sure if that’s good or bad?
In most places we stay there are nice ablutions (showers and toilets) to use to get cleaned up and changed. However, sometimes they’re quite a distance away, so changing between the open Landy doors or on the ‘no people side’ is common.
Although we wash our clothes regularly, keeping them spotless, dust and dirt free is a tall order and would drive me crazy if I didn’t make adjustments in my expectations.
Probably the biggest challenge clothes wise is the flux in weather and temperatures. In the morning I may be wearing sweats and by noon my coolest t-shirt and capris. Some days (and nights) require a beanie (knitted cap) and several layers.
Life is quite different when you can’t set the thermostat!
One disadvantage of a roof top tent is that you have to pack it up anytime you want to drive somewhere. However, we’ve gotten it down to about a 20 minute process. It also helps you keep things very simple… no extra stuff to pull out and put back in.
Going to bed
After a couple of weeks we figured out how to leave our bedding (except for the warm blanket) on the bed when we close up the tent and this helps at bed time. After marching off to the ablution (bathhouse) to wash up and change (though we frequently change right next to the Landy as no one is around.) We grab our laptops, any extra clothes if it might get cold, lock up the Landy and climb up into the tent. There we read or write for a bit before calling it a day.
With the African night noises and stars above it generally makes for a great night’s sleep.
It the birds that tell us its morning, to check I peer out to see the first signs of light on the horizon as the sun readies to shine on another day in Africa.
You really can’t be in a rush living in a Land Rover… then who wants to be?
Be Brave. Only Believe. Just Do.
Margrit Harris loves nature and wildlife pretty much above all else… that is except her spouse, Russ.