' Book 2 - Our Lucky Mascot '
(This is the SECOND book of my famous sequel 'I am a Gypsy Prince')
15. Visiting an enormous two-story caravan, without any wheels.
The next morning, I woke up early; and immediately jumped out of my bed, already feeling full of anticipation.
Today, I would leave our secluded camp for the first time, to visit a gadjo town and help my friends with begging!
I almost couldn't wait...
My Mom and Dad were still snoring in their double bed, lying entangled into each other's arms.
At first, I wanted to wake them up, to help me find my neatest clothes.
Then, I decided to let them have some more beauty sleep, especially my emotional Dad.
I tiptoed out of their bedroom, went to our living room, and stared out of the windows...
A couple of early birds were already lounging around our campfire, waiting for the things to come.
They looked strange now, dressed up in their nicest 'winter' outfits!
My Big Friend, Michail, walked towards his own caravan, already dressed in his inseparable fur coat.
Maybe, he would be able to find my clothes and help me dress?
I went to our front door, opened it, and shouted:
"Michail? Please, could you help me find my clothes? Mom and Dad are still sleeping..."
Michail laughed at my eagerness, while he shook his head:
"Sorry, but you have to be patient... And, we won't dare leave the camp without you! Today, we need you, to help us beg.
"Besides, I am sure your parents will wake up soon, and I have to look after my own boys first."
Feeling a bit disappointed, I closed the door and shuffled back to our living room...
"Harry, Harry... didn't I teach you to always be patient and wait for your turn?"
My Dad used my nickname 'Harry', so I knew he wasn't angry at me.
Thus, I rushed to my parent's bedroom; where I launched myself onto their double bed, octopussing myself onto my yawning Dad.
He chuckled, threw his strong arms around my small frame, and tried to crush my ribs.
Next, we started to tickle each other, trying to find each other's most sensitive spots...
My Mom woke up from our tumult, groaned, and looked at me with sleepy eyes:
"Please, can't you wait for at least another hour? I am sure it's still dark outside..."
"It's not! Misha, Biny and Jock are already outside, with their neatest clothes on. And Michail is awake, but he doesn't want to help me find mine."
I wrestled free from my Dad's tickling hands, and jumped out of bed.
Next, I tried to drag my still protesting Mom towards the door...
Fortunately, she started to laugh, left the bed, and fetched my clothes from a drawer.
Impatiently, I snatched my clothes out of her hands, while I tried to dress myself in a hurry.
First, I had inadvertently put both legs into only one pant leg; and, then, I had to turn my T-shirt inside out and around before it finally fit.
I put on my socks and my shoes, and thought I was ready to go outside...
However, my Mom laughed; while she washed my face, combed my hair, and told me to properly lace my shoes.
Finally, I was properly dressed, and hurried outside to join the other waiting kids.
By now, many more of them had gathered around our smoldering campfire, fidgeting or wandering around.
Impatiently, we waited for the things to come, in the meantime muttering about our itchy clothes.
This was the first time since many months that we had to wear anything at all...
Little Dimi left his caravan, clad only in his birthday suit, and immediately raced up to me:
"Harry, please, can't you stay home today? I'm sure I will miss you terribly..."
"Sorry Dimi; but, today, I have to help my other friends with begging in a gadjo town!"
"I know; but, next time, I want to join you!"
"I hope so, because I will miss you too. Together, we could have a lot more fun..."
Suddenly, we heard a well-known sound, coming from outside our circle of caravans.
After a moment, Michail's enormous truck appeared from our parking lot, pulling one of our spare caravans.
All the kids started to cheer; while they crowded around the combination, eager to get in and take off.
Michail climbed out of his truck, chuckled at our eager faces, and started to count our heads:
"Twenty-two noses; that is, let's see... It's seventeen older kids into the caravan, and five younger ones into the back seat of my truck."
I cheered again, when I realized I would be riding in Michail's enormous truck, for the first time!
Jonno's dad opened the caravan door; and seventeen older kids bolted into it in a sudden hurry.
In the meantime, our technical man, Pietro, helped the five younger ones climb into Michail's huge truck.
One by one, we entered its outstretched back seat, where we crowded together.
Pietro climbed into the front seat, while Michail sat down at the steering wheel and started the engine.
He tooted the horn, our parents waved at us, and our truck-and-caravan combination drove off!
We were on our way to a gadjo town; to beg for food and, if possible, a few flaps of that valuable gadjo money...
Our back seat was packed with five fidgeting kids, all of them trying to look out the windows.
We were supposed to be the 'smaller ones', but all the other kids were at least half a head taller than I!
Unfortunately, I sat in the middle, because I hadn't thought of seizing a place next to a window.
I stretched my neck out as far as I could, trying to have a look outside, but all the other heads were constantly in my way...
After some time, I also started to feel a bit sweaty and uncomfortable.
Would the others allow me to climb into the front seat of the truck, where there was plenty of space left next to Pietro?
I didn't want to make them jealous, but I WAS the smallest kid, and our back seat WAS crowded...
Finally, I tapped Pietro's head, and asked him:
"Pietro, please, may I sit next to you; as I'm only a small boy, and I cannot look outside from here?"
Pietro looked at me, and started to laugh at seeing my anxious face:
"Of course, you may sit next to me, because you are my own mechanical engineer! Can you climb the console on your own?"
I didn't know what 'the console' was, but thought it could be the huge box in between the front seats, where Michail now and then grabbed a big pin with a knob...
I started to climb; but halfway across the box Pietro lifted me up and transported me to his seat effortlessly.
He sat me on his lap, folded his arms around me, and held me close with his chin resting on my head.
Now, I started to grin like crazy; while I immensely enjoyed the splendid outside view I suddenly had!
Michail competently steered his enormous truck-and-caravan combination across our woods.
We went through small clearings, past huge trees, and along steep ravines; avoiding dangerous potholes and enormous boulders.
All the time, it looked like my Big Friend drove his enormous combination effortlessly, as if it was on autopilot...
From now on, I started to admire Michail as my own personal hero!
I wanted to be like him, once I would be a grown-up and able to drive such an enormous truck myself!
Studiously, I looked at everything that my Big Friend did, planning to remember all the significant details.
Once I would be old enough to be the owner of such a truck, I already knew how to drive it...
After half an hour, we left our forest and entered a huge clearing, surrounded by steep walls.
Here, Michail slowed down, adeptly parked our combination, and stopped the engine.
What were we going to do here?
I looked outside, and saw an enormous two-story caravan without any wheels, cleverly built against one of the walls!
This strange caravan had a huge double doorway, and too many windows to count them in such a small amount of time.
Inwardly, I wondered how many people would be living in it...
Michail told us to leave our truck; which we did, clambering down, again helped by Pietro.
At the same time, all our older friends left their attached caravan, followed by Jonno's dad.
First, we stretched our stiffening muscles and took a fast leak in the surrounding bushes.
Then, we gathered around Michail, and stared at the strange caravan...
A smiling gadjo woman appeared in its double doorway, looking genuinely happy to see us.
First, she waved at Michail, Pietro, and Jonno's Dad, and beckoned them over.
Now, she looked at me, and started to smile even more!
Enthusiastically, she asked me:
"I think you are our young Prince Harold? My, you certainly are a good-looking lad! Please, follow me, because I have something for you to serve out..."
I felt a bit unsure about what to do now, and looked hesitantly at our grown-ups...
However, Michail winked at me, while he started to walk towards the entrance and the still smiling woman.
Pietro and Jonno's father followed him; and, after a moment of hesitation, I decided to follow them as well.
The other kids stayed where they were, and I thought they looked at me with some jealousy.
Well, not everybody could be such a good-looking young Prince...
We followed the smiling gadjo woman through the huge double front door, crossed a hallway, and entered another door...
Suddenly, I looked around, open-mouthed and holding my breath, this time feeling totally perplexed!
I was now in what had to be the largest living room that had ever been built into a caravan!
Unwittingly, I felt very small and vulnerable, and leaned into Michail...
In a corner of the enormous room, a gadjo man was busy brewing some nicely smelling coffee.
Many huge windows offered an open view towards the clearing, where the other kids were frolicking around or waiting for us.
The nice gadjo woman told us to sit down at a large dark and shiny wooden table, with many armchairs around it.
At the same time, the man in the corner started to rummage with a couple of cups and glasses...
Still feeling totally overwhelmed, I clambered onto Michail's lap, to feel a bit more safe and protected.
The man offered each of the grown-ups a steaming cup of coffee, and I got a big glass of yellow lemonade with a very cold ice cube in it!
Silently, I sipped my tasty lemonade, while I let the ice cube slowly melt in my mouth.
In the meantime, I looked around curiously at what surely had to be the largest caravan in the world.
How would they ever be able to pull this huge thing away, being fitted against a wall and without any wheels attached?
What if they wanted to move it to another place?
Wouldn't this caravan be way too heavy to transport it?
Slowly, my curiosity won over my initial shyness; until I suddenly blurted:
"Michail, how come this caravan hasn't got any wheels? How will they ever be able to pull it away?"
For a moment, all the grown-ups went silent, while they stared at me...
Then, they looked at each other and started to laugh!
At first, I felt a bit ashamed, and didn't know where I should look.
Had I really asked them such a strange question?
Then, the nice woman ruffled my hair, and told me she understood that I had never been outside our secluded camp before now.
Of course, I had never seen a 'brick building' like this, and therefore thought that everybody else would live in caravans as well...
Soon, I would discover that nearly everybody else lived in 'buildings'; which were not intended to ever be wheeled away.
This particular building was called a 'hotel', because it accommodated many rooms where people could spend the night before they went on with their voyage.
In a 'town', I would see many smaller buildings, which were called 'houses', where people were living with their families as we live in our caravans.
If they ever wanted to move to another place, they didn't take their house with them, but sold it for money, and bought themselves another house elsewhere.
Well... Inwardly, I thought it to be a very strange way of living; and I wasn't sure I wanted to ever do such a weird thing myself...
I was way too used to our own black-and-golden caravan, where I knew every small corner, hole, and scratch!
Why would I ever want to sell our caravan, to go live in such a 'brick house'?
After I emptied my glass of lemonade, the nice woman handed me a basket filled with shiny red apples!
That was a real treat for us kids, as we weren't used to having apples in our mountains.
Of course, I thanked her abundantly for her generosity.
Did she know we hadn't eaten anything this morning, because we were nearly out of food?
Pietro helped me carry the heavy basket outside, while Michail and Jonno's father carried a huge tray of plastic cups filled with lemonade.
The kids cheered when they saw us coming; and they huddled together to receive their cup of lemonade and an apple.
Soon, the tray and the basket were emptied; and we felt less hungry while munching on the tasty apples and sipping our lemonade.
We put the empty cups back onto the tray, and thanked the smiling hotel owners.
The nice woman wished us all the best, and told us to visit her again before we went home.
Then, she ruffled my hair, suddenly looking a bit sad:
"It's a real shame you have to accompany the others to beg."
I absolutely didn't agree with her, but was sensible enough to keep my mouth shut...
We reentered our combination; while Pietro helped the smaller kids into the truck, by pushing them up one by one.
Of course, as soon as Pietro sat down, I once again climbed onto his lap in the front seat.
Michail tooted the horn, and we drove off, waving at the nice woman until we rounded a corner.
Again, we were on our way to that strange gadjo world...
Suddenly, we left our mountains, while I sat glued to the front windshield and didn't know where I wanted to look first!
We entered a strange and leveled landscape, marred by what Michail called 'highways', being several endless roads made out of grayish 'concrete'.
I had never seen so many cars racing each other and driving past our truck at such a high speed!
It made me feel a bit dizzy; and, as a precaution, I looked only through my eyelashes.
After some time, I got used to the constantly passing by of all those cars that seemingly were in a tremendous hurry.
From now on, I tried to look everywhere at the same time, desperately trying not to miss a single interesting sight...
A few filthy kids were scurrying along the highway, obviously looking for some leftover food thrown out of a passing car.
Now and then, we passed a wrecked car, left behind by the unfortunate owners.
Once, I saw an old bus that seemed to be inhabited by a few grown-ups and their many small children.
They all looked very thin and hungry...
Silently, I prayed that Michail's truck wouldn't have any breakdowns, leaving us in this middle of nowhere!
At last, Pietro pointed us to what looked like an enormous, outstretched, and ugly looking caravan camp in a far distance:
"There is where we are going to beg today."
Thousands of brick 'houses' and other 'buildings' were set together, seemingly at random and rather disorderly.
Our own caravans were always neatly placed around our campfire...
Were gadjo people really this untidy?
Michail slowed our truck down, while he adeptly turned the combination into a small secluded clearing along the road.
He shut the engine off; and, all of a sudden, everything was surrealistically silent...
For a moment, we looked at each other, while Michail opened the door and left his seat.
Then, we clambered out of our truck, again helped by Pietro.
In the meantime, the older kids left our attached caravan, followed by Jonno's Dad.
We all gathered around Michail, silently waiting for the things to come.
What were we going to do now?
I wish you lots of Love in your life, and Profound Peace in your heart.
Harry AnderS, Dutch psychotherapist and writer of many 'books with a message'