Thursday, August 9, 2012

MLG Travel Update: Day 86 — A Plea for Help

Sean & Mufidah in Charroux
(click image to enlarge)
© 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

DAY 86 (Thu 9 Aug '12):  I WOKE UP worried this morning, after a night of worrying dreams. Mufidah too. And, again, I lay in bed before the sun had risen, wondering what else to do.

For much of the past six weeks it has been like this, all the while we've been enjoying Vichy and otherwise keeping ourselves inspired — doing everything we could think of to make our simple ends meet, and to stay true to our traveling aims. After all, apart from a few monthly bills which remain despite our being on the road, our day-to-day living expenses while in Vichy are essentially a €15 daily campsite fee, the cost of our simple, homemade food (we've even taken to making our own flat bread), and whatever petrol we use.

The latter has amounted to very little since we've been in Vichy, having gone for just a few close-in daytrips, the occasional drive into town (we usually walk), or to the large Cora grocery store on the other side of town, right by the Pont de l'Europe. But the petrol bill runs high when we travel from one place to the next, despite driving a wee Fiat Punto. This is a key reason why we're still here.

The other reason is an amalgamation of the following:  1) we really like it here, 2) this is an inexpensive — yet beautiful, clean and well-kept — campsite with free wifi (crucial to our work), and 3) we can't afford to leave even if we wanted to.

We've likened it to the Hotel California ("you can check out any time you like ...").

As the standing agreement here is to pay the day before departure, we've been trying like the dickens to earn our keep before the owner-managers might decide to ask us to settle up given our extended stay here. Well, earlier today, when Mufidah and I walked up to the campsite reception to pay our daily €0.50 ice pack recharge fee I had the sinking intuitive feeling that they were going to ask us to settle our balance.

And they did.

In a nutshell, we've not been in a position to pay our campsite fees after the first couple days of our stay, despite our best efforts to organize and promote my writing workshops within the campsite, Mufidah's (Mac) and my (PC) one-to-one computer services, writing workshops via the web, my ongoing one-to-one writing guidance services (e.g., mentoring, editing, critiquing), the pre-selling of my creative writing book, etc.

Whereas in Hay-on-Wye we were able to quickly pick up casual work — in addition to organizing writing workshops during the Hay Festival — our very limited French language skills makes our doing so here difficult. But we're not giving up on this front either, and are networking via various Vichy civic organizations, including tapping into the expertise of the local tourist information center, downtown.

We intended, too, to have more cash on hand when we left England, in addition to accumulating a substantial amount more post-departure. But for two reasons this hasn't gone as planned. First, the only car insurance company we found which would offer a full year's European coverage required a one-time upfront payment rather than monthly installments. So this quickly dispensed with nearly £600 cash out-of-pocket.

Second, we had hoped we would have been able to sell many, if not all, of the (quite nice, as many of you know) household furnishings and other personal possessions which we left with a student-friend to sell on our behalf, in return for a percentage of the sale. For various reasons, this resulted in our receiving about a tenth of the value of the goods we left behind. And, so, monies we had hoped would trickle into our bank account — as sales were made — trickled in only twice, and didn't amount to much.

So here we are. No regrets whatsoever, and very happy, still, to be on the road, "living, writing and growing in awareness". But we're in a bit of a financial fix.

And as the cornerstone of my teaching is to write the truth of our own experience, I've decided to go public with this predicament with the hope that some of you might be in a position to help us out, according to your own circumstances.

As I said in a recent update (Day 76), there are various ways in which you can help. Likewise, if there's anything we can do for you, or anyone you know, please let me know.

Donation-wise, if just 30-odd folk within the Mindful Living Guide community were to donate £30, we'd be in the black in Vichy.

Although neither generosity nor goodwill require an incentive, I would like to include a list of all the donors (who'd like to be listed) within my creative writing book once it's ready for publication, as being integral in my being able to write the book while on the road with Mufidah. Anonymous donors — or those who'd prefer not to be listed — can, of course, remain anonymous.

That said, I know that it's no easy task to attract thirty £30 donations.

So it would likewise be of tremendous help if those who might be able to donate more were to do so and, thereby, not only help us get back into the black but help us, too, to continue our travels as summer begins its slow, steady decline towards autumn. On the other hand, donations of any amount will, of course, be hugely appreciated — and will be applied immediately to our now-due campsite fees.

To quickly and securely make a donation via PayPal, click here. You can use your debit or credit card, or, if you have one (not necessary), your PayPal account.

Thank you from us both of us for your consideration. In the meantime, we'll be doing everything we can to continue to try to crack the nut on this earning-a-living-independent-of-place thing!

With love and warm regards,

Sean & Mufidah

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