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Departure from Tom

near Perth — 1999-11-20

The farewell from Tom goes without any problems, thank goodness. In a long discussion we agree that we’ll leave the untrained camels Look, Sabu and Boo, behind. However, the camels we have done a lot of training with in the past three months, Sebastian and Hardy, we’ll come to collect as soon as we have settled down in Perth and know how the preparations there are going.

In the early morning we are on the highway heading for Perth, and on the evening of the same day we are welcomed by Inspector Gadget. In order not to strain their hospitality, Tanja and I must try to stand on our own feet as soon as possible. We spend every day in the car to purchase things for our new base camp in the various shops. Our major attention is directed at finding a second-hand but well-kept caravan. We study the ads in the papers every morning and have a look at the various models offered. Most of them are in a very bad condition, but already 5 days after our arrival in Perth we find what we were looking for and buy, at a price of 5,000 Australian dollars, a 7-metre long caravan which the friendly owner delivers to us. No sooner is the caravan on Inspector Gadgets lot than we begin to fix it up which requires an endless amount of detailed work. In order to make the old thing fairly habitable again, I must totally disassemble its interior. Only when I realise what I’ve done by taking the whole thing apart, I become aware of the extent of this gigantic project. For six whole weeks, we are busy sanding, filling, levelling and painting till our arms nearly fall off. This hard work causes such a strain on our muscles that Tanja and I suffer from terrible ache in our backs. But Paulin, the wonder masseuse, manages to relieve us from our pain.

The necessary furniture we get from the family stores (second hand) and from the rubbish dump nearby. I must honestly admit that I’m quite successful as a “rubbish freak”. Naturally, the stuff is not just dumped there in a huge pile, but everything that seems in any way reusable is neatly sorted out and sold like in a shop. In this manner I manage to find wonderful outdoor chairs, shelves, a shovel, paint material, carpets and many more things that decorate our base today. None of our visitors can imagine that we’ve gathered all the stuff like that, and I am surprised time and again at all the things our civilised society throws away

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