City camping with goats
Updated: Mar 5
"If I were asked to name the chief benefits of the house I should say: the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace." Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics Of Space.
While in Tucson last week I stayed overnight in an early 2000s Shadow Cruiser Fun Finder caravan (camper/travel trailer/rv pick your preferred term).
It was one of the most inexpensive of self contained options offered on the short term accommodation website which I frequently use. By refining my searches to caravans, I have had some lovely shelter experiences: such as January 2022, having a whole vintage RV farm on the Texas gulf coast to myself during a severe winter weather system (read about it here), and resting awhile in a beautifully outfitted reproduction vintage caravan, appropriately called Electric Ladyland, in quirky ghostown Terlingua, west Texas. (Read about it here)
In Tucson my little pull-along bed on wheels, it turns out, is parked at the far end of the property, alongside the neighbour's goat pen. It would have been hard to get any closer.
Curiosity about one another, my temporary neighbours and I, was mutual. They jostled quite competitively for a turn on the structures to better watch me watching them.
Yes their proximity did contribute a somewhat rustic billy goatish perfume to the accommodation experience and permeate my early morning yoga practice, but, farm raised as I am, it didn't bother me too much.
The landlords of this little space have not done much creative in the decor department providing the minimum and ensuring that the bed cannot be easily converted to table and seating as the original plan for this caravan would have had it.
I soon remedied the blandness of the interior with my baggage and traveling yoga props, including the shweshwe yoga mat bag all the way from South Africa.
The space was pretty small, as can be expected of a caravan of this size, but it did include a very tiny shower and toilet cubicle.
My rudimentary travel toiletries again brightened the bland scene (in my opinion). That turquoise, pink and green toilet bag was made for my first big adventure to India and Egypt in the early nineties. It has been traveling with me ever since.
I was glad to have brought my own towel (I always travel with a towel) since those supplied by the hosts were hard, worn and decidedly dingy, looking more like those used in my favorite hotsprings bathhouse for bath mats, than towels to dry a body. Other hosts who offer accommodation on this platform tend to provide for their guests more sumptuously.
This was, after all, a low budget choice whose idea of decorative local ambiance consisted of some curling and randomly placed stickers giving the feeling of a childish hand behind it.
An outdoor seating area, as viewed through the window at the end of the bed, was provided alongside the goats so one could, I guess, forgive the interior modification which removed table and benches. Another low budget indicator: it seems no attempt has been made to landscape or beautify or even maintain the area around the caravan, though the garden near the main house is very lovely in a desert garden kind of way.
I was in Tucson during a unusually cold spell and decided not to do much home catering or, beyond morning yoga practice, avail myself of this outdoor living area so redolent of goat.
Tucson is the foodie capital of the Southwest offering some of the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants I have experienced in the whole of the United States. I admit my experience is somewhat limited being pretty much only west coast and southwest. Food experiences in Tucson deserve a post all of their own.
I didn't ever meet my hosts in person - one often doesn't using this short term accommodation online booking platform - but their front yard was beautifully appropriate to the desert geography. I watched the comings and goings of woodpeckers who live in that giant Saguaro as I came and went during my stay.
In the back yard, in the space between my caravan accommodation and the main house, the plants were almost all in cages, behind fences and bars. It's one way to raise cacti and small children simultaneously. I guess.
Notwithstanding all the above, I gave this space a good review on the online rental platform. When I travel I seek out the quirky and unusual accommodations. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. It isn't the hosts' fault that I can be opinionated about aesthetics.
They had, after all, provided me the shell of a little house of my own in which to dream, while I was in Tucson.
With goats at no extra charge.
I will however say this one thing here on my own platform: when one is in the business of hosting paying guests and one's own home space is so obviously more lovingly and thoughtfully curated and nurtured while one's (paying) guests are housed in basic, unlovely conditions down by the goat pens, it says a lot about one's attitude to and respect for those guests. Robert Zimmerman was perhaps correct: sometimes and with some people "...money doesn't talk, it swears..." **
And that's before we get to curt instructions to wash the dishes and take out the trash.
A place of my own: the architecture of daydreams by Michael Pollen, 1997
The poetics of space by Gaston Bachelard, 1958
**from the song"It's alright ma I'm only bleeding" 1964.