|Our temporary home which was recently declared total loss in New Mexico.|
One of the greatest things I loved about traveling the country and looking for a new community, to call home, was the average personal encounter in a RV park. I mean where else can you meet a retired CEO with a $400,000 RV while towing a Mercedes SUV parked only 5 meters away from a $10,000, older looking RV, which houses the working poor and everything just clicks? As we walked our dog through the many RV parks, we often noticed a "community spirit" among strangers. People were outside grilling and chatting, having a couple beers and kicking the proverbial tires, as it were. I realize that people were outside because the RVs are small inside. I get it. But the beauty about being outside is that it allows for chance interactions with your neighbors and with it, neighborly goodwill.
|Camping with retirees was a great experience.|
Before I go any further I need to admit that I am writing this from the comforts of a suburban home, that we are renting, which is in a nice middle class neighborhood. My ears happen to be ringing from the deafening silence all around me. I am amazed, on this last weekend of summer, how quiet suburbia can be at 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and it has been quiet for nearly a week. I truly feel for all of the children who should be outside playing, but aren't. Everyone needs to experience the outdoors, from the openness of the sky, the brightness of the flowers, to the thousand shades of green, in a tree's canopy. We need to nurture our souls with natural beauty, whether we like to admit it or not.
|Natural beauty is something we all need.|
Okay, back on the subject, living in a small home has some advantages but not when it comes to shopping. Buying in bulk is a great way to save but only possible if you have a place to store the overages. RVs and other small accommodations are tight so you can only buy what you need, when you need it. Elise, is not only a wonderful wife, but also a great family accountant. Together, we have estimated that not buying in bulk costed our family anywhere between 60% to 80% or more depending on type of groceries and which state we were in. Laundry was another expense that we were surprised by. Most homeowners normally throw clothes into their washer and dryer, then fold the finished loads and forget about it. For many people, however, laundromats are the norm and for us, while traveling in our RV, it was the norm, too. Elise estimated our monthly laundromat bill was about $100. Multiple that by 12, for the months in the year, (for the long term RVers) and these expenses can really add up.
|We were fortunate to camp on our own terms while traveling the countryside.|
My wife and I are fortunate to not be effected by the higher expenses of RV life, and we now appreciate the plight of the working poor even more. Anyone can fall on hard times and many do so, all the time. Drugs play a big part of that, but so does divorce, medical bills and so on. While in western Colorado, we met a good looking couple with an adorable 2 year old daughter, at the RV park where we were staying. They were as sweet as could be and he was happy to talk about how busy he was at work. After a while, his wife had to run and grab a snack for their hungry and whiny toddler. She headed straight for a tent. Her wonderful and clean cut husband saw the sadness in my eyes and said, "That's okay, we'll get back on our feet soon enough." He went on to explain how they got to where they were, and truly it could have happened to any renter and drugs were not involved. They loved the RV park because they could camp for cheap and use the bathroom to prep for work in the morning. They were thankful and counted their blessings to have access to the RV park, when most would have been miserable. I deeply admired that family for supporting each other rather than castigating blame. They lived their lives filled with true love and forgiveness for each other.
|A typical example of a family struggling to make a better life for themselves.|
Since being back in the U.S. we have been caught off guard by the magnitude of the homeless issue. I would imagine, based on our own observations, that for each homeless person one sees, there are many times more working poor, that aren't seen. I would think helping those who are trying to stay afloat, have a job, and retain much of their dignity would be the easiest place for a government to start helping and improve their communities. Remember the day-to-day living expense of those living on the fringe are significantly higher than those with more a stable and larger accommodations. Thus any help, I am sure, would be greatly appreciated.
So, tomorrow, when the first day of school starts, there will be many millions of children across the U.S. turn around and kiss their moms good bye, and run out the door to catch a bus. Some of those children will jump over fun hurdles in their front yard while others jump over hurdles in their lives. Each of those beautiful little people will board buses and with it, go to a place where merit matters, that is, until they return home.
|Living on the edge but still giving it a go.|
Our journey of discovery started when we decided to embarked on our drive to South America, nearly four years ago. We have lived a splendid dream and saw many amazing sanctuaries, ruins and natural wonders without filters. We continue to benefit from witnessing penetratingly real and unfiltered reality to this day. We cannot predict what tomorrow brings nor what wonderful people the full spectrum of living will reveal. However, if we open ourselves to others, we might be able to turn perfect strangers into perfect friends. In our minds, neighborhoods should be teaming with life, packed with youngsters, living their "golden years" on bicycles or lost in their chalk art mosaics. We miss the endless energy, noises and clashing colors of Latin America and have decided that if we cannot be there, then we should at least encourage that energy, noise, and those colors wherever we land. Building a better tomorrow, starts with us accepting today; not wishing for what we had yesterday.
|Colorful Granada, the former home that we love.|
We would like to dedicated this blog entry to the many hard working poor, living quietly among us and trying so hard to survive even though it is more difficult, then most realize. Here is to the people waking up before the sun, to shave, shower, blow dry their hair and work the jobs that many of us require but don't appreciate. Here is to the men and women that look like a million bucks at the office but quietly return to their temporary homes, their double-wides, RVs and tents. I am so thankful that my daughters saw, with their own eyes, that the working poor are not rejects, just people who fell, and are having trouble getting up. We loved the time spent talking and laughing with people who want a better life and who have every reason to give up, but don't. Their strength and determination motivate us, as we re-assimilate back into the U.S. We are happy to share their plight and inspirational messages with you.