My bedroom window looks out over a sprawling concrete jungle, the chaotic collection of high-rises and pavement that makes up the bustling Spanish city of Alicante that I currently call home.
I love this boisterous, vivacious, disorganised city. But it’s easy to feel disconnected among it’s tangle of people and metal and asphalt. Disconnected from nature, especially. It’s a lament most city-dwellers probably share.
On the opposite side of the world, and entirely at the opposite end of the spectrum, lies the small southern Australian island of Tasmania.
Wild and isolated, battered by Roaring Forties winds and soaked by metres of rainfall each year, large swathes of Tasmania have become a sanctuary for protected old-growth forests, remote beaches and wide inland lakes.
When Alana quit her job in Brisbane this year, packed her life into Walter the Campervan and took up the life of a gypsy, she allowed me to tag along for a few weeks.
We headed directly south to Tasmania.
It’s bloody cold in Tassie, even right now when the island is supposedly warmed by the last blush of summer. The chill sent us crawling into bed each night as the horizon swallowed the sun, rising again each morning as daylight streamed through our curtains.
We allowed nature’s natural rhythms to order our day in a way that the busyness of normal life usually renders impossible.
And in this slowing down, we noticed things that would normally pass us by.
The loud laughing call of kookaburras ringing out just after nightfall. The temperature dropping sharply just after dawn, even as the first shafts of sunlight colour the world golden.
Fat rain drops hissing as they hit the campfire. The soft pinging of hail across the campervan roof. The ache in our necks as we crane our heads up, up, up to see the very top branches of centuries-old swamp gums. The moon, one night from full, emerging from behind storm clouds to light up an isolated stretch of beach like a flare.
In a way, our grand 5900-kilometre circle around Tassie was an experience in off-the-grid living. Walter the Campervan has a solar panel and we watched the clouds flicker across the sky before making decisions to charge our laptops or fire up the stereo.
Phone service was patchy and internet access intermittent, forcing us to disconnect — to read, to chat, to laugh, to play guitar, to draw, to build a campfire and sit beside it slow roasting potatoes in the coals, our hair and clothes taking on the pungent scent of smoke.
Through disconnection, we found connection. Connection with nature, with the moment, with each other.
Now I’m heading back, suspending my life for 42 hours to fly across the world, back to the city, back to the bustle, back to the concrete jungle — but with a new little nugget of calm tucked within.
And for Alana, the adventure has only just begun.