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Our Space

Book cabinet over our head

Cooking thanksgiving meal in our one person kitchen 

Our four family traveling tribe is in Los Cerritos, a small, but rapidly growing, community about halfway between La Paz and  Cabo. Here, there’s a midsize sandy parking lot on the beach for tents and RVs. We’ve arranged our rigs into a box shape, surrounding a wide open center. We’ve effectively created a community square, a plaza, a place for shared meals, evening fires, and games. The plaza is also a kid magnet, and as our kids gather to play Janga, or stick fight, or do bead craft, other children poke their head into the square and often join the fun. It can be lonely being a child on the road, and what we’re offering – a friendly, warm community – is a compelling siren call.  

The rest of today’s post will have a different flavor than previous posts, which have frequently been about what we’re experiencing, either internally, related to emotional or spiritual work, or externally, related to our family and RV community; today, I wanted to write a little bit about how we make our space work. 

When we’re boondocking (not hooked up to water, electricity, or sewer), water is the most critical component of our experience. Early on, we were advised not to drink Mexican tap water, so we keep 5 to 10 gallons worth of bottled freshwater with us. In addition to whatever is in our freshwater tank (filled to the brim before we start boondocking), we have a number of tapwater filled plastic bottles, used for washing dishing and toilet needs. We store all of this bottled tap water in our shower. This arrangement makes the shower look like a one room school, and the students – water bottles – stand around, eagerly raising their hands to answer all questions related to water and its usage. The shower is crowded with other students as well: our Instant Pot, which is too large for easy storage elsewhere, lives in the shower. We’ve added command hooks to the shower walls, and clothes, towels, bathing suits, and a Harry Potter bathrobe often hang from them. 

In the RV, as you can imagine, every nook and cranny is used. Space is at a premium. We have to be discriminating about we take on board: do we really need? Will we use it frequently? Do it have multiple uses? We’ve jammed paper towels, toilet paper, and Invisalign packages in the storage space under the seat cushions in the dinette. Lift up the jack-knife couch, across from the dinette, and you’ll find shelf stable milk, half and half, Corn Flakes, tortilla chips, pasta, sponges, almonds, pistacios, DVDs, legos, dishsoap, and parchment paper. Our bedroom closet has been hacked to include a $25 plastic three door dresser from Target (for clothes for our youngest), as well as our clothes, many of them placed in stackable plastic racks, a much better use of the closet space. 

Our total YOLO inventory (food, clothes, tools, utensils, etc.) is far less than the inventory in our Minneapolis house, but that doesn’t prevent a small explosion of stuff right outside our rig, as soon as we park for any length of time (this is one similarity with our home life: stuff explosions everywhere). Water bottles, sandals, books, a kettlebell, weights, a yoga mat, legos, metal cars, a bin for shoes and towels and frisbees, a plastic tub of ocean water we use to get the sand and dirt off our feet – all of that finds a home in a sprawling mass right outside our front door, quickly covering and spilling over the edges of the 8 x 10 rug we always lay out, which marks the boundaries of our “front yard.”

Our fridge isn’t much larger than a really big cooler and when the grocery  purchases are hauled in from the back of our Honda Fit, it feels like an impossible Tetris puzzle. Removing as much packaging as possible is the first step.  We stack food in creative ways, placing containers sideways. We balance meat and leftovers on top of yogurt containers. Even though we miss some of our usual staples, shopping in Mexico is better for the RV life as most food shopping takes place in little markets which involves more small trips with little purchases than at an American Supermarket. But when we do a big shop, it is quite a production to unload and find a place for each purchase.  Usually this works, but occasionally we are punished, when after a long day of travel, we open the fridge, and discover that the drive has dislodged a key Jenga block in the fridge tower, and half of the contents then spill out onto the floor. 

We love having our kitchen travel with us, but we joke all the time that, “It’s a one person kitchen,” and it truly is. There’s enough space for Juliana or me to stand and prep a meal, or begin clean up, or start doing dishes. But that’s it. There’s room for one. Often, one of us will linger at the edges of the space and attempt to dart into the interior space – like a hummingbird dancing around a flower, trying to get to the sweet nectar of the cupboard behind the sink, the microwave, a quick hand wash, or fruit in a basket mounted on the backsplash wall. I’m more guilty of this behavior than Juliana, despite her loving reminder that “It’s a one person kitchen.” Early on in our travels, we said, “Learning” all the time; it became our mantra. We said it because we were learning how to live together in the rig. Learning how things worked. Learning what rhythms work best for us all. Learning what that weird noise or clunk meant. Saying “learning” was a public way to acknowledge we were beginners, and then and now, it invites grace, curiousity and openness. “It’s a one person kitchen” is now another way to say, “Be patient,” “Can you wait just a minute?” Or, “I love you, but you’re too damn close to me right now and I’m trying to make dinner or ____ (fill in the blank)!”

At the end of the day, kitchen cleaned, we wipe down the dinette table and convert it into a bed for our youngest, a very effective use of space. It’s a ritual that signals the day is coming to a close; we’ve experienced and received whatever gifts the day had to offer, and are looking forward to a good night’s sleep. After the bed is made, and the teeth are brushed, I read a chapter of a book (curretly, Matilda) to our youngest, tuck him in with an elaborate kissing and hugging ritual, and then walk a few short steps to our bedroom in the back of the rig. From there, we often call out, “Goodnight, Tucker. Goodnight, Jesse. We love you. Sleep tight.” and wait for the echo back to us.  

And in our tiny house on wheels, we snuggle in, and go to sleep. 

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