We have some unexpected visitors. A family with 4 kids. They were climbing down the mountain, struggling not to slip on their way back through the woods. The last thing they expected was to be greeted by two young people, standing in front of a little wooden house, in the middle of nowhere.
“You live here?! Wow! How did you get your fridge up here?” one of the kids immediately wondered. I smile. “We don’t have a fridge”. The boy looks at me with big eyes. “And where is your tv?” “We don’t have one either, we live without electricity” Niko replies. “Then what do you do all day?” The little boy just can’t believe it.
I invite our visitors to have a look inside. They follow me eagerly through the door. With 2 adults, 4 kids and a dog, our little house is packed! They have to be careful not to step on each others toes while looking around. Not that there is much to see. A wooden desk near the window, that looks out over the tree tops and the sea. An old car seat that functions as a couch. Another couch and a big chair. A wood stove in the living space, our laundry drying above it.
A few shelves with lots of pots, plates and food. A bench underneath it with a little gas cooker. A sink. And candles. Lots of candles.
“Do you have running water?” the father asks. “Yes, we have a water tank outside” Niko explains. “It’s connected to the creek through a pipe line. Whenever it rains, the water from the creek flows through the pipe into the tank. Another line connects it to a tap inside the house. As long as it rains regularly, we have plenty of water. It only becomes a problem when it doesn’t rain for a while. If the tanks gets empty, we have to carry heavy water bottles all the way from the village to the house, which is a 40 minute walk. Luckily this is Ireland and it only happened once so far.”
“Oh good, so you can shower here”, the mother says. “Yes, we have a little shower, but it is very cold. We prefer to heat up water on the stove and wash ourselves in the sink or in that big bucket over there. With a bit of imagination, it’s like taking a bath.” The kids giggle at the sight of the white bucket.
“I need to use the bathroom” The youngest boy looks around. I smile. “I’m afraid we don’t have one.” “Where do you go to the toilet?”. Niko and I wink at each other. “When we need to pee, we use a tree. There is also an outside toilet, but it can only flush the urine. We poo in a bucket and use ashes from the fire or sawdust to cover it up. When it’s full, we empty it in a compost bin further down the forest.” An expression of disgust on the kids’ faces. “I think I’ll wait”, says the little one.
“Can we have a look upstairs?”, one of the girls asks, changing the subject. “Sure, but be careful on the ladder. It is quite steep.” One by one the children go up to our bedroom. It’s a beautiful mezzanine, with a small bed and books everywhere. Colorful drapes from around the world are covering the ceiling. “Cool! I want to have a room like this!” we hear the oldest boy shouting out.
“Well, thank you so much for inviting us in your home.” The father shakes our hand. “We don’t come across a house like this every day. Especially not one that is build on four tree trunks. It’s a real tree house!” It is indeed! A friend of us built this house years ago and now it’s known in the village as ‘the Tree House’.
The family leaves. It’s quiet again. Very quiet. So silent that we can hear our own heart beats. Far away from people and noises. Only surrounded by trees and carpets of green moss.
Niko and I look at each other and smile. It must have made quite an impression. You don’t often meet people who live in the forest without electricity. But we love it. A perfect temporary home to recharge before going on a big adventure around the world. A peaceful place with time to study and to enjoy the simple things of life. A cosy house to snuggle up and read by candlelight. A good preparation for not having electricity all the time and becoming aware of water usage when we’ll be in Africa.
Living in a tree house is amazing! Even if we have to poo in a bucket.
You want to know more about our life in the tree house? We made a video about it!