HUME Park in Humerail boasts arguably the most scenic view in Nelson Mandela Bay, so it is little wonder some 10 people have chosen to settle here in their caravans.
While their backgrounds are as diverse as the local wildlife that traverses the landscape, from meerkats to colourful birds chirruping away, the residents of this small community have found for themselves a corner of the world which provides them an exhilarating sense of freedom.
However, economic considerations have played a role in their decision to live in a caravan on a permanent basis.
Frenchman Jean-Paul Simon, 78, has been at the park for the past five years following the death of his wife in 2007.
“When I first came to PE we lived in the caravan park where the Boardwalk is now. The owner at the time asked if I could live there and take care of the holidaymakers during December,” Simon said.
“When he sold the caravan park so the Boardwalk could be built, we had to move. Fortunately we found a person with a big yard in Mount Pleasant. That is where we stayed until 2007, when my wife died.”
He said he had no regrets about his decision to move to Hume Park, where there was a strong sense of community among the tenants.
“There used to be more people living here, but it is not cheap anymore. I pay R2400 a month to stay here. It is a very healthy lifestyle. I have access to a toilet and a shower in the main building but the advantage is of course the beautiful view and fresh, clean air.”
Indeed the sweeping panoramas of Algoa Bay are something to behold, especially as the morning sun dances across the water. Waking up to this every day is hardly what one might consider “roughing it”.
Simon’s character and history make for interesting listening. He was stationed in Algeria in the three years prior to the North African country gaining independence in 1961, and still draws a pension of about R1000 a month from the French army.
From the age of five until 15 he also lived in Switzerland with his grandparents. Upon returning to Paris, where he was born, he “could not even speak a word of French”.
“That was a funny thing, a boy from Paris not being able to speak French.”
Clearly the conversations around the camp fire are never dull.
Although Darryn Greyling and his father, Gavin, moved to Hume Park to be close to his mother – his parents are separated – they, too, are pleased with their decision because both enjoy camping.
“We have been here for about six months and are really happy. We feel that we are able to move around freely, and there are no restrictions placed on us,” said Greying Jr.
Pointing out the splendid view, he said there were a number of advantages to staying at Hume Park.
“It is a more healthy lifestyle, where you are breathing in good, clean air all the time. We also use gas to cook, which is a much healthier option for us.”
Greyling Jr is employed as a security guard at the camping ground, so he conveniently does not have far to travel when his shift ends at about 4am.
“My dad and I have always enjoyed camping, so this lifestyle suits us perfectly. We both love nature, and waking up to all the dassies and meerkats running around is a fantastic feeling.”
At the far end of the grounds is one of the “anchor tenants”, Leslie Sharp, a seven-year- veteran of Hume Park. Sharp explained that she and her husband, Johan, had relocated from St Francis Bay where they had lived a very domestic life.
“It wasn’t long though before we settled in and got into the groove of caravan living,” she said.
“My husband had wanted to work at the Coega port, although there were a few problems with projects that did not get started.
“However, settling here was a good decision in the long run. It is so quiet and peaceful, and we have found that it hardly gets overcrowded.”
With her little dog Jaydee in tow, Sharp is the picture of happiness as she busies herself with the chores of the morning.
She said there was an overwhelming sense of community, making every day special.