This story is all about friendship in Australia.
– How did you meet each other?
Marion: Thanks to a Facebook group ‘French in Sydney’ !
Manon: I put an ad on the Facebook group, Marion wrote to me and we had a coffee together. A few days later, I met a girl and her boyfriend who were selling their van. Marion and I bought this van, the couple bought a 4WD, we became friends with them and travelled together on the east coast. We didn’t know each other at all when we met, we had luck, bought a van together, travelled with great people and when we arrived in Cairns, I decided to stay one year instead of six months. This is how our story started!
– How would you describe your friendship?
Marion: Everybody thinks that we know each other for a long time, no one believed we met here a few months ago. This is what happens when you live in a van 24/7, friendship is going faster. We are living like a couple, we don’t care about how much we spend on shopping etc. we almost could have a common bank account ☺ Even when we are arguing, it looks like a couple. The fact of not being for a long time only together but travelling with people and living with others was certainly helpful to have a great balance in our friendship. How many times we have been told about friendships or couples which broke after a few weeks of travel. It can work really well, but it can also make people realize they can’t travel or live together. It’s a big challenge because during this time a lot of things can happen and create stress and irritations. Not finding work, not having friends around, being homesick, running out of money … Here you meet people, you discuss, you stay with them, you meet them, again and again, every day and it is easier. In France you go for a coffee, you see each other some times in the week, in the month and it starts this way, little by little. When you travel, in three days you know many more things from people, you are open to tell them your story and listen to them.
Manon: Some people know me more than my friends in France. It becomes more simple because we are together in the day, we cook together, we sleep together, we laugh at bad jokes, we give a nickname, all those things would have probably taken months in France. It’s natural.
Marine: Talking about being natural, yes we are! Here you don’t even think about wearing makeup. Last time I was looking at pictures of Manon on Facebook to see how she looked before and it was a big surprise to see her with makeup, handbag and heels shoes. It is impressive how being a backpacker can change a person in such a short time.
– How was your trip with your van?
Manon: We travelled 15,000 kilometres and never had any problem with it. The only thing we would have changed if we were staying longer is to put tinted windows because sometimes rangers or Police caught us sleeping on unauthorized places.
Marion: I remember in Byron Bay, we were sleeping in parking and the police knocked on the window. I opened and directly said ‘Sorry, we are leaving now’ but the police responded ‘No worries, go back to sleep and you can leave in the morning’. Sydney is awful for backpackers who had a van and the worst is that the police ask us to go to the hostel. When you buy a van it is basically to avoid paying backpacks. There is not even camping in the city so what do they expect from us?
Manon: We discovered a picture of our van in the newspaper a few days ago. This article titled: ‘Backpacker campervan surge in Sydney’s east has residents fuming and council begging for more power to remove overnight sleepers’. It is certainly because the neighbourhood complains about backpackers in Bondi Beach but it is completely over-exaggerated. We felt bad and Manon was upset for a few days when we realized this. Australians are quite happy to have us working on farms to pick their fruits and vegetables and serving their coffees. It’s a pity to see this because we met so many great Australians during our road trip. Fortunately for us, it is only a minority of people but when you see your van in the newspaper, you are shocked. Especially us who are really discreet, we never hang out the laundry, we never let rubbish beyond us, never let anything under the van. At night, we are like two grandmothers with our books and when we don’t have any more battery, we sleep. Fortunately for us, we don’t stay here because I would have painted the van in another colour.
– What are you gonna miss from Australia?
Marion: The sun because we always travelled to have the sun here.
Manon: To be on the road, to meet people, to be free.
Marion: We have to admit we are also looking forward to going back to France not because we are bored, but I want to see my friends again, I want to work, I want to settle down my life … before I’ve never felt this, I was not ready. Now I am! We met people during this year who don’t want to come back, but for most of them, it is because they were still living at their parent’s house before. It is a big gap in their life and they just don’t want to go back and live with their parents again after what they lived here.
Manon: For me, it has been four years that I’m abroad, so I would like to go back to France to finish my studies and see my friends who ask me every time ‘when are you coming back ?’ because I often rescheduled my return. And now I’m going back to France and I am happy. I always knew that I wanted to live in France, I will never stop travelling but I deeply know that it is good to live in France. I missed the french way of life. I missed the culture, I miss being in Europe where we are open to people because we forget about borders.
– How could you sum up your year?
Manon: We lived 10 different lives in 10 months.
Marion: It was the best choice of my life. No regrets! Only happiness!
– What is next for you?
Marion: We are going to travel to Vietnam, then we will take a flight to Moscow. It is gonna be the last place to say goodbye.
Manon: Marion will take a flight to Paris and I’m gonna flight to Madrid. I don’t want to stop. My friends asked me to go and visit them in Ireland, England, Sweden, … when you are travelling you meet many people and then you want to visit them so finally, you can’t stop. After 15,000 kilometres on the road in Australia, you finally realize that it is not so difficult to travel in Europe.