Seven more stories from the road

From a guy who risks his life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, to a love story that is being strangled by society, here are seven more stories from the road.

Even trees have stories to tell, if you just look hard enough.


The scruffy, unshaven campsite maintenance guy, who lived in a small camper overflowing with his things, and two big dogs who looked like they had wolf blood somewhere in their lineage. We braved the wolves to ask him what was smelling so good in his campfire. The wolf whisperer: “Come on in, don’t worry about them. They just like to show off! Oh this? It’s a hobo burger. You just take a bit of foil, toss in your beef patty, some chopped onions, and some BBQ sauce and salt, and shove it into the fire. When it smells good, you take it out, and dinner’s ready. We keep it simple around here.”


John, our AirBnB host in New Orleans, a literature professor and wonderful conversationalist. We sat in his cosy living room, with walls lined with books and paintings and spoke about many things, including Hurricane Katrina. He said: “We’re used to moving away for a couple of days when storms come, but this time, even weeks later, it was too dangerous to come back to our homes. Well, I had these elderly neighbours who could barely sleep because they were so worried about their home. So I took a kayak and came paddling out to see what was happening.”


When you’re camping in the middle of nowhere with limited supplies, small things are precious. A young Belgian couple arrived late one chilly evening and started setting up their tent in the spot next to ours. We offered them some hot tea when they were done, and they loved the dark Indian-style brew. After a whispered conversation with her partner, she dug around in their van and came back to us with a hand behind her back. “We found ‘a treasure’ at the grocery store today and would like to share it with you as a thank you.” And she held out her hand proudly. In it, there was a small bunch of fresh baby coriander.


A love story that society doesn’t approve of – not something you associate with modern-day Switzerland, but true nevertheless. He is 20, she is 32. She says: “Nobody has ever understood me this well. With him, I feel free to be me. But our friends keep asking us why we’re together.” He says: “People ask questions, but they don’t know what it’s like to be in this relationship. It’s like we’re on the same wavelength all the time. I don’t mind when people disapprove – all I know is I love her.”


They come to this campsite every year, she tells us. She used to come as a little girl, and always loved it. When she married, she started bringing her husband over too. She says: “First it was just the two of us in a small, cheap tent. Then we had two babies and we’d all squeeze in. When the kids grew too big, we bought a small minivan so we could sleep in it and they slept in their tent outside. We bought an expensive camper when our kids moved out of home and got married. And now they bring their kids when we’re here and we all stay together in our vans. But our grandkids still sleep in tents.”


There’s a restaurant at the end of a party street in New Orleans that has live jazz music. We walked all the way down, looking for a quiet place away from the loud bars with their blasting stereos, and that’s how we found King Arthur. He’s a big guy, married to a tiny little woman. She says: “When we first started the restaurant, I did the cooking and he managed the staff and the guests. But he’s too soft and would give food away for free and let the waiters get slack. So now he cooks and I manage the restaurant.”


King Arthur makes us some perfect fried chicken, and then, deciding that he likes our faces, brings out some pumpkin pie too. He says: “Once I saw a homeless guy sitting on the pavement opposite the restaurant, just liftin’ up his nose to smell the food in the air. So I sneaked a plate of food out to him for free. My wife yelled at me for givin’ away our earnings but I told her, ‘we should share what the Lord gave us’. The next day, he shows up again and I thought ‘oh no, I can’t give him free food every day’. But whaddya know? He had gone and picked up some bottles and given them to the recycling plant for money and he wanted to pay me for the food I gave him. Even homeless guys got a conscience.”


Which one is your favourite this time?

4 thoughts on “Seven more stories from the road

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