Do you know how many times I camped before we headed out on this adventure?
Three times that I can remember.
Once when I was roughly like 11 and we went with family friends. The first time as an adult was when we took a leap of faith and headed out to Kimberly to buy Optimus. And then the last time was a sneaky night that Seth and I spent just outside of Cape Town – to get into the swing of it all…
I wouldn’t say that I was a person who loved camping. Who thrived living amongst nature and all the bugs, spiders and cold that it had to throw at us. No, it never used to be my first choice. Seth knew this I think, when we decided on this adventure and that’s why we have Optimus. A safe haven to lock myself into that should, for the most part, be spiderless and warmer than a canvas tent on the floor.
Before we left Cape Town, we hadn’t taken Optimus for a spin in terms of camping out with him. I mean, yes, we stayed in our garden, but it’s not quite the same when you have a house to go into whenever you need it. And like, maybe linger in for a bit. Which leads to sitting down for a bit. Switching on the TV for a bit. You know what I’m saying!
Mossel Bay was our first experience of truly camping out in Optimus and testing out all the things we’d taken the time to build inside him (it?! Weird saying him). AND on top of that, this was going to be our first experience of being alone. On our own without family or friends to support us. It was both daunting and exciting all wrapped up into one. Luckily De Bakke Santos was probably one of the best places to start this adventure.
It’s literally right on the beach so at any point in the day you can gaze down at the secluded beach and the ocean. I’ve never really stayed anywhere quite so close to the sea before and it was wonderful hearing the waves crashing on the rocks as you’re drifting off to sleep.
The thing that I found the hardest to get used to is the ablution situation. Guys. Before this I wouldn’t even go to a public loo if I was desperate. Never. It was a full on fear. I don’t know why but I have always been like that. It’s not that it’s a germ thing, it’s just a thing. I can’t quite explain it. I just hate it so much. Thankfully the ablutions at De Bakke Santos were always clean, fresh and spider free. Just bring your own loo paper. Something I didn’t even think of, having never really done this before, but thankfully we had a fair bit stocked up.
We eased into life in the van slowly. Although it was quite something to get used to. Especially as there was still so much to do on the van – we needed to put the newly revamped curtains up, get lights working, get the battery hooked up, get the inverter connected, get everything properly into a place. And when I say we, I obvs mean Seth as I often (still) don’t have the first clue what to do with the electricity and that kind of thing.
Our first meal in the van was a joke. We braaied meat not realising that we had nothing eat with it. So we had braaied chicken with tuc biscuits and flings. The kids freaking loved it though, obviously. We stayed in our van for about 3 nights if I remember correctly before moving into the glamping tents that De Bakke Santos give you the option to hire. And wow, I was so grateful for this!
The caravan that they give you is pretty huge with it’s own bathroom and kitchen. Yes you heard me right, full on bathroom (with toilet and shower) and kitchen! Luxury. That’s why they call it glamping! Then they add a massive tent area to the front of it, kitted out with a two plate stove, kettle, dining area, two beds for the girls and a few other things. It was amazing and we really enjoyed the luxury of the space without that space being outside and unsheltered. I’d really recommend trying this out – it’s affordable and gives you the feel of camping without you having to lug all your stuff around. But it might ruin you for normal camping forever, once you go glamping it’ll be hard to go camping 😉
We even had guests pop in – my cousin and his family who were visiting from Malaysia and then friends of ours who moved to the Groot Brak area. It was lekker to catch up with them in this place. We also spent a lot of time at the beach when the kids weren’t doing a bit of reading or riding their bikes with friends they made in the area. That’s another thing I loved. They could be free. Riding their bikes all around the site without the fear of them being knocked over or being stolen. It was amazing.
The next thing that we experienced, much earlier on than I anticipated, was illness. Knox woke up one morning and puked all over our bed. Somehow he’d gotten a tummy bug. Great. Luckily we found a pretty decent place to do washing and he was feeling better by the end of the day which was great.
On one of the days we set out to explore the town and see what it had to offer. Which, I must say, was a surprising amount. There are lots of cool little stores and restaurants. Mossel Bay is actually a destination and not just a stop over. I could have easily spent another week there and still not explored all there was to see. I didn’t even get a chance to trawl through the little shops (mostly because I didn’t think I’d be able to restrain myself).
We went to the museum and the kids learned a lot about the history of the area. We even got to explore a real replica of the boat that sailed here all those years ago. Then we headed for The Point where we climbed up to the cave and then did the little hike to the top as well. The view was amazing! Then we had to follow it up with ice cream. First we went to the ice cream shop that is located in building. Don’t go there. We had the absolute worst service ever. We then went to the to other van shops and both were happy and amazing. Don’t make our mistake. Despite this it was a really fun day out.
We were really sad to leave Mossel Bay. It was such a great place and I’m sure that once our adventure is over, we will be back to see what else we missed.
There was obviously also a lot of emotional and other things that I haven’t mentioned in this post because you can find my daily rants/updates/thoughts on adapting to this life on my Instagram or Facebook. But here are all the ones from our time in Mossel Bay…
Day 3 – Stillbaai to Mossel Bay 1. We had a lovely morning sorting out a few last minute things like the laptop charger I accidentally left at the office 🙈, a guided tour of the town and Seth getting to drive his dream car (a Mustang 👌🏼). 2. We had a bit of an emotional goodbye with family but we set off to Mossel Bay on a fairly good note. 3. As we left I realised how nervous I was because now we are really on our own. It’s going to get heckofa real now. 4. We arrived in Mossel Bay with ease although Optimus isnt sounding his usual self. Hopefully it’s just a bit of overheating and everything sorts itself out. 5. We checked in at DE Bakker Santos which is right on the beach and absolutely lovely! I could not have picked a better spot. 6. I updated all my Instagram highlights so now you can catch up on any stories you may have missed over the last few days. 7. I hate public toilets with a passion and would rather hold it in till I cry yellow tears than sit on a toilet a millions other butts have been on. But I’m having to learn to get over that and it’s not making me happy. 8. Overall we are in a better space than we were when we set off, feeling more organized and ready. Howevs, I still feel like I’m shouting at the kids a lot and getting impatient all the time – emotions are still all over the place for all of us. I hate that, so from tomorrow I’m going to make a real effort to be fun.
Day 4 – Mossel Bay 1. Mossel Bay is a town that just keeps on giving. Not only did we have magnificent weather to enjoy today, we also found a massive camp world warehouse that had Seth in 7th Heaven and will have Optimus reaching his Prime even sooner. 2. My charger arrived this morning and after a few issues with internet I was able to get behind my laptop and properly smash my inbox. It’s amazing how that’s been bugging me and the weight that’s lifted since I now feel like I’m in control again. 3. Seth managed to hook up the Transformer (it’s actually called an inverter but I can’t never remember that and Transformer feels right) which means that we have battery powered electricity. This excites me probably more than it should. 4. We finally got down to the beach and the kids loved it!! I love that @debakkesantos is literally right on the sand. It’s really just the perfect location. Plus I feel safe and looked after. 5. We had our first meal at the table this evening and even though it was only what we could scrape together at the last minute (because of not hooking up the gas yet – braaied meat, tuc biscuits, flings and rice cakes) it was still a win! 6. Today was our first day on our own without the support of friends or family and it was a lot better than I expected. 7. I managed to chill out my mood a bit today. Made the extra effort to at least keep it light and not just perpetually frustrated and annoyed. Such a difference (to me but especially my kids) 8. The disorganization of the van is slowly driving me completely insane and I don’t usually care about things like that. I think we need to purge at least half of what we have in here still. Although I know we won’t. 9. I still hate public toilets and showers. 😱
Day 5 – Mossel Bay 1. Knox was man down with a tummy bug. Vomiting all over our bedding. He basically slept the entire day but by supper time he was back to his old self. I mean I knew we’d have to deal with illness at some point but not quite so early! 2. Knox and Seth chilled in the van while the girls and I tried to sort out the useless wifi router that I spent too much money on. I still can’t get it to work and I’m trying not to lose my cool but I want to smash it on the floor and ride over it with Optimus a few times. 3. Even though it was still a bit cold the girls spent a couple hours jumping in the waves while I finally had a chance to read my book. It was nice to do something other than stress. 4. Seth really deserves a lot more credit for the design of Optimus than he gets. He’s worked so hard on it and it really is amazing. Plus now it has lights!! 5. We moved out of Optimus into the @debakkesantos glamping tents which literally feels huge in comparison to Optimus 😂 This caravan is kitted out with a massive fridge, shower toilet and a front tent area that gives us enough space to spread out a bit. So if you want to test out this option, you totally have to come here. 6. We’ve been eating rather badly (and by badly I mean deliciously) mostly because when you meet up with people you eat what they give you. So it was nice to go back to veg last night. 7. Driving through Mossel Bay to the laundry was interesting, so many little shops that I want to explore!! Hopefully Saturday will be the day to do just that.
Day 6 – Mossel Bay 1. I chose this as the main pic that you see on Instagram because I’m sure that this is what you picture when you think about our adventure – drinks and restaurant made meals, days on the beach and all the idyllic crap the #vanlife sometimes pushes. The reality is that today I’m struggling to find my peace. Like, I don’t usually get homesick but right now I feel homeless and that’s a bit weirder. I don’t know what to do with the things I’m feeling. We are slowly finding our groove and yes, we do occasionally go out for a pizza or chill at the beach, but the inbetween moments that don’t make it onto social media are tough. It’s why there are so few pictures to share today (and that’s totally OK). But please don’t let anything I ever post make you think it’s all sunshine and glitter farts. 2. Yoh now that the emo bit is out the way. There was good that happened today too! We met up with my cousin and his family who are down from Malaysia and it was so great to catch up with them. The kids made friends after they warmed up and now they want to see each other every day. 3. We also met up with @mountain_lines which was great because we haven’t seen them in forever! Hoping to connect again properly tomorrow. 4. I’m really enjoying the glamping caravan setup at @debakkesantos. It’s giving us the space we need to completely repack the van properly which is definitely going to help when we set out on the road again! And if you can believe it, we’re still purging. 5. The warm weather and sunsets here are really a balm for my soul. I can only imagine how much worse I’d feel if it were rainy and cold all day.
Day 7 – Mossel Bay 1. We’ve been on the road for a whole week. Which really in the scope of the 52 weeks of travel that we have planned, isn’t all that much. But it’s a week nevertheless and that feels like a milestone. 2. Woke up feeling a whole lot better than yesterday. I think getting out to actually explore Mossel Bay was part of it, a good night sleep another but also just having a good talk with myself that we’re in this for the long haul. It’s OK to feel emo, but not OK to dwell in it. So suck it up sister and have some fun. I actually said that to myself. I give good pep talks. 3. We had a whatsapp chat with Ga and Papa (Seth’s parents) and the kids were so excited to see them! As usual it evoked a bunch of emotions and I would be lying if I said my eyes didn’t leak when I saw the kids react to chatting to them. 4. The first point of call this morning was The Blue Shed for coffee. Then the leather shop where I found the blanket I have been looking for (at SUCH an affordable price). Then the Museum where we saw the old postbox and the boat. It was a hit. And then we finished off our day out at the point checking out the cave and eating Ice cream. 5. Then we came back and caught up with @mountain_lines and fam over an early supper 😂👌🏼😬 6. The kids are asleep and miraculously both Seth and I are still awake! This is momentous. We’re going to Netflix and chill. (and yes I know what that means…. Bow chicka wow wow. If you think that’s too TMI then soz for you) 7. Last full day in Mossel Bay tomorrow so we’re going to use it to soak up the weather, the beach and each other before we head out to our next stop.
Day 8 – Mossel Bay 1. Today was our last full day at @debakkesantos in Mossel Bay and I’m really sad to see the end of it to be honest. I liked that it was starting to feel familiar. Kind of like home. That said, I’m SO looking forward to our next stop with @mama2leeleeandscarlie. They’ve been on a similar adventure but in reverse and crammed into 3 weeks. Aside from chilling out with them (the other kind of chill 🙈😂) I’m want to hear all about their travels. 2. We spent the morning packing up some of the van and I think we have purged a bit more which makes it feel like we can actually do this. Seth also fixed the lights and put up more curtains which is also great. Maybe by the time we get back in a year Optimus will really be in his prime haha. 3. It would be a crime to not have spent our last day at the beach soaking up the sand and waves. By the time we come back our girls are going to have the most amazing tans (who am I kidding – 3 hours in the sun today and I’m already jealous) 4. I included a picture of our mat in the van there because when you roll back the kitchen over the passenger seats, that’s how much floor space there is. I think the stories make it look a heck of a lot bigger than it is in real life. But thank goodness for Seths skill because with the old design we would only ever have had half of that – eek. 5. Our week of grace is over and tomorrow we really need to start kicking in time for schooling and work. It’s going to be interesting trying to juggle that on days when we’re moving locations. 6. Tonight I went through each birth story with each of the kids, with suitable actions and verbal imagery. Safe to say the girls are now set on adoption.