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Camping Smells

I need to write a blog about smells. Anyone who knows me knows I have a nose worthy of drug detection agency employment. I was unprepared for the onslaught of odours that camping would unleash. I now stockpile vinegar, baking soda and lemons at every Four Square I encounter on the way.

  1. Fish Sauce. Fish sauce really smells. I will quote my husband here: “Who the fuck brings fish sauce camping anyway??!!??!!” when he discovered that the bottle of fish sauce had emptied itself through the fridge, over the floor and into the weird carpet stuff that covers the vertical surfaces in our camper. Fish sauce, smells. I responded with: “do. Do you enjoy my cooking??? Huh?? Well shut up.” While I emptied an industrial sized bag of baking soda over it, then cut up some onions then cut up some lemons. So then, instead of our camper smelling like rotting fish, it smelled like the alley behind a Thai restaurant. It got rid of it though.
  2. Toilets. Fuck, the toilet just, well, it’s just a pain in the arse. The toilet has been an ongoing… challenge in our camper vanning life. The toilet was installed in a ridiculous manner. We brought it back to the guy we bought it off and he “fixed” it, and then about a month later it was broken again. By broken I mean the toilet bowl wasn’t fixed to the platform well so the effluent oozed out and SMELLED. So, this time last week Ron and I were team-working up a storm dismantling the toilet and pouring silicon onto every available surface in an attempt to make it impermeable. We have been high fiving ourselves until today, when we arrived just out of Opotiki and there’s the ooze again. So tomorrow (I need to work myself up to it) I’m going to investigate where I missed. Baking soda and vinegar have been liberally sprinkled in the toilet vestibule.
  3. Dog food. We switched Isa to dry food for the trip (previously she’d had a diet exclusively of raw food which needed to be frozen, and we just don’t have the space for that) and we soak it before we give it to her. Somehow her bowl got knocked over and the contents seeped all through one of the underneath lockers, soaked into that weird carpet, and then took a week to start smelling like road kill. I actually thought it was road kill – I’d been unable to avoid squishing an already-dead possum that day so I thought I’d brought some with us and went a bit nuts trying to hose the underneath of the camper van. Turned out it was Isa’s food. Cue baking soda emergency run and spending $10 on two of the smallest packets in the world.
  4. The grey water. About the third time I dumped the grey water I thought, ‘Oh wow, we need to not put the poached egg water down the drain.’ Thinking that was why it smelled like rotten eggs. But, when I dumped in Gisborne at the business of a veteran camper vanner and plumber (a great mix) he told me in no uncertain terms that it was a “Health Risk” and I needed to use this stuff he calls “Blue Loo.” Now, I don’t use shampoo, so using something that ends in the suffix ‘dehyde’, as in formaldehyde really is against my beliefs. But, I got bullied into it, and sure enough the sulphur smell went. I was very worried about how many fish we were killing though. Anyway, every time I don’t use the bloody blu loo, the grey water stinks again, and smells surprisingly like road kill, and the smells just permeate everything. I need an earthy option – any ideas?
  5. Christmas Trees. The joy of living in an enclosed space is that the tiny wildling pine that our new friends gave us as a Christmas Tree did a magnificent job in helping the camper van smell like Christmas. I had visions of creating Christmas-on-wheels amazingness this year, but the seven decorations I made didn’t really cut it. The fairy lights I bought were too long and we couldn’t hang them anywhere they wouldn’t get in the way. The old pillow case I brought along to write Merry Christmas!!! on never saw the light of day. But, we had a Christmas Tree and the first night we had it on board I rolled over and caught a whiff of the pine sap and smiled. Smelt like Christmas.

We have just arrived outside of Opotiki and have relief from the sun by way of rain and grey skies. So it’s been a day of showers (last time I showered was in Gisborne – about two weeks ago – so, let’s be honest, I probably smelt too), laundry, and inside activities. And internet. And no awful smells. Yet.

PS, photo is of the Kina hunting expedition this morning. Yield: one Kina tried only by Ron and our culinarily adventurous neighbours.

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