Traveling on Baja, my favorite days are the ones where we get to stay put, where we simply have time to go through the routines of daily life, where I can study Spanish, and watch the sun set into the ocean. When it’s simply another day living in my bus, with the time and the calm that can’t be taken for granted.

I open my eyes to sunlight seeping around the corners of our curtains. It’s sunrise-sunlight, the kind that’s telling me I can afford to sleep a bit longer, and I promptly close my eyes again. The next time I stir, it’s because there is a breeze blowing between our open hatch door and our sliding door as I listen to the boiling of the tea kettle. I cuddle back into bed.
I finally rise and throw a t-shirt on as Sven wakes me gently. “How did you sleep?” he asks, looking me in the eyes and cupping my face, waking me up in that calming way he does. “Gooood” I say in my I’m-still-sleepy voice. I begin to tell him my dreams as we sit on the bed and he hands me my coffee cup, which I often will not completely finish but continue to find a complete necessity to mornings. We watch the waves crash against the beach through the open sliding door and the windshield of our Bus, and eat tortillas with peanut butter and fruit.
I begin to do the first round of daily organizing. I almost can’t resist, I can’t rest until things have been put into their proper places. Our pop-top is raised and we don’t have any guests, so there is quite a lot of room in the Bus. I store the dishes box up in the top, and the camera bag as well. I put last night’s headlamps in the drawer. I put all of the dirty dishes in our foldable wash basin and store it on the passenger’s seat. I’ll do the dishes later, there are only the coffee cups and a few pieces of silverware now (we did the dishes last night, so everything else is clean), and it’s not worth wasting precious water on that small collection. I leave the bed out. On days like this, it’s comfy to just sit there and cuddle in the sheets while I do all the other stuff the day calls for.

Not a driving day, not a breakdown day either

We won’t move today. We don’t need any resources. We have enough food for all of our meals today, enough coffee for tomorrow morning, and about two-thirds of our 15-gallon water supply. Our solar works reliably, and we always have had power on Baja. And we have phone reception, and we have not run out of mobile data. We can get stuff done online. It is sunny, it is peaceful, and we have everything we need to just stay put.
Those are the best days. The days when we have to go into town simply because we have run out of purified water or tortillas are stupid, it’s a waste of gas. Then I have to spend a lot more of my morning time organizing and putting all of our stuff in places where it can be while we drive. It’s not a driving day either, where we will spend multiple hours on the road. it’s not a breakdown day either, those are definitely the least fun. It is also a day when there are no other travelers around, just a day when we can be by ourselves and work.
Sven and I brush our teeth, tipping water from our water bottle over our toothbrushes. Then I get to work. I use the morning to write a blog post, letting the creativity flow.
Sven says he’s hungry, so we stop and make lunch. Mornings always go by so fast. I warm up the beans, he starts on the homemade guacamole. In go the avocados, the lime, the salt and pepper, the tomato. We open a can of corn and take the Valentina sauce and the salsa verde out of the refrigerator, and add it all together to make a taco. Just before I sit down to eat, I stop to fill our water bottle from Eduardo, our water tank. I pump, and pump, and pump, stopping just short of overflowing the water bottle. After we’ve eaten, we decide the dishes can wait until later, once again.

Eduardo, our friendly water tank.

The lazy hours of the afternoon

I spend the next hour or so doing some research about online work. I take a break after a while, when I get to a stopping point, and lay our amazingly sand-resistant Baja blanket (that we bought at a truckstop in southern California for seven dollars. The bargaining price here starts at about 15 or so) out on the sand and spend some time reading. I have made a vow that I will make time every day to read a bit (how can I expect myself to be a good writer if I don’t make time to read?), and that I will spend some time every day practicing my Spanish. I take out my current pile of flash cards, and crack a beer in the hot afternoon sun. La rodilla. La cabeza. El ojo. Repeat. I see it through until the end, until I have memorized all forty cards or so. It was one of the most important parts of my day.
I finally get around to doing the dishes, and tip some of our unpurified water, that we keep in our other white water tank, into our foldable wash basin. Scrub, wash, repeat. I lay down a towel on the part of our bus that folds out of our sliding door, and lay the clean dishes there to dry. I make sure that the dirtiest dishes go in last. I can’t stand trying to ‘clean’ dishes with dirty water.
The sun is beginning to sink into the Pacific, and I can see it out the sliding door as I work a bit more on the computer, while Sven puts together today’s Instagram picture. I put the laptop away and go with Sven down to the beach, and lean against him as we watch the sun sink beneath the waves. He runs and gets the camera, while I stay and watch the sunset, knowing I am being photographed. We sit back in the Bus, and let the dying sunlight shine in through the door. It would be better for our eyes, surely, if we turned on the light, but we don’t just yet. Enjoy the sunlight while it lasts.

As the light fades away

Sven starts to prepare our dinner. A camping favorite of ours: spaghetti with tomato sauce, onions, garlic, a veggie or two. He goes to fill up our big pot, where we will cook the noodles, and realizes Eduardo is empty. Damn. He takes it out of its shelf, puts in on the ground and proceeds to transfer purified water from our garrafon, the water containers you can fill up in any town here on Baja. Come to think of it, they are the same ones you could fill up all over Indonesia, too.
He cooks, I am lazy and read on the bed in the light of our LED Christmas lights. We turn on the candles we hang from the handles on our ceiling we use to pop our top. We sit on the bed and talk, eat our dinner. Pasta is my favorite. The dishes can wait until tomorrow.
I head out to pee. There are bushes a bit away from our Bus. It is one of those nights that I don’t even need a headlamp, the moon is almost full, and shines light across this nighttime beach scene. Moonlight is the best kind of light, and the hardest to photograph well.

To feel at home

We curl into bed, put the pillows in their right spots (in the front, by the sliding door). We watch an episode of Angel (we’re Joss Whedon fans), somewhere in season 4, and eat chips. Afterwards, we get up, brush our teeth, lock the doors, and blow the candles out.
When we turn off the light, I feel safe on this beach, in my Bus, in Big Emma. I feel at home, and promptly fall asleep.

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  1. Stephanie J Hoffmann on

    Ditto, lovely! Looking forward to the book. Your writing brings your beautiful experience to life!

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