A homage to Sushi

Oh, hello. David here.

It’s come up mighty fast, this leaving date. In less than two weeks, the bed will be gone, the drums will be gone, most of my clothes will be gone, the view of Taputeranga Island will be gone. I’m typing this on the table in the lounge. In less than one week, the table will be gone, but at least I’ll still have my fingers. I don’t have an aversion to owning stuff; I’m sure that much more stuff will be accumulated whenever I settle again – but in order to travel indefinitely I’ve had to remove the heavier, larger things from my life.

The largest, heaviest thing is the Sushi Wagon – The most luxurious, elegant vehicle I could afford. Sushi is a 1994 Suzuki Carry Van and is named after her colour scheme; pale salmon and avocado. When I first purchased her from the Germans next door the roof had already been painted the salmon colour and the sides were still the original, dull white. A can of pink paint was given to me by Jorg, the previous owner, should I ever wish to finish the job. Instead I decided to paint the entire thing green and went out find a nice, dark forest hue. Unfortunately, actual paint rarely resembles the colour chart and so the white was painted over with the light avocado colour present today. My unpaid help and I left the roof pink because we’d had too many beers by the time we got that far, and ultimately the job was never finished. I can’t remember who named the van ‘Sushi’, but it may have been Jeremy. And even if Jeremy doesn’t deserve the naming credit he spearheaded the painting operation, so certainly deserves something. A mention in my first ever blog post should suffice.

*2015 New Year’s Eve edit
I’ve just been informed that it was actually my niece, Sophia, who named the van ‘Sushi’. Thanks Sophia!


A year ago, the typically normal event of the petrol flap falling off forced me to braze it back on and repaint the resulting mess with the only paint I could find – Karen Walker’s Half Heathered Grey, which didn’t really fit in with the sushi theme at all. To balance out this discrepancy I liken the rust nestled in the windscreen to unagi and the oil leaks to dark soy sauce.

Three years ago, in the dim light of a closed fabric store at 11pm, Caroline and I installed curtains inside the van. The dump shop provided not only the curtains but also the railing which allowed them to glide smoothly into my line of vision while driving. Once the curtains were installed the back seats were removed and a bed was hastily thrown together using some bits of wood, several different sized screws and the mattress from a fold out couch. Many trips were taken in the van to various parts of the North Island, including one to a little patch of grass on the East Coast where about twenty other campers had settled for a quiet journey into the new year. It’s prudent to note here that despite all Sushi’s weight being at the front – engine, humans – the fine folk at Suzuki decided to make their Carry Vans rear wheel drive. This has led to numerous fishtails on the mildest of turns and, in the case of our grassy spot on the East Coast, an embarrassing screech up the hill with spinning tyres and spitting mud. Happily, a kind stranger helped push it up the hill and back to the gravel road. I suppose that beneath his friendly, helpful demeanor, his end goal was to return to the tranquility present in the area before we arrived.

The bed is gone now, and the seats have been bolted back in place. The curtains, however, shall remain, and when the new owner turns his head to check his blind spot on the motorway all he’ll get is a face full of green and white stripes.


Sushi was very recently awarded the Warrant of Fitness. This is the highest honour that a van of Sushi’s condition can achieve. Frankly I was surprised. I instantly decided to attribute the victory to a certain charm and charisma that made the mechanics overlook her many worrisome issues. On the day of her award, one of the mechanics – who I will refer to as Mike – took me aside while Sushi was basking in glory on the outskirts of the Bridgestone Select car park. He spoke to me in lowered tones.

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”

“Yes, of course.”

“As your mechanic, I must tell you that the rust, oil leaks, missing rear door lock, dysfunctional boot and dodgy tyres will not allow this van to pass another warrant six months hence.”

“I see.”

“Honestly, I don’t know why I allowed it to pass this time. Do you have any particular sentimental attachment to the van?”

“I’m about to leave the country so I’m selling it.”

“Okay that’s good. Get rid of it, mate. Just get rid of it.”

The Dog and Lemon website has this to say:

The smallest vans are the worst. According to Australian accident researchers, the driver of a Suzuki Carry van has a dreadfully high chance of serious injury – in fact, you are several times more likely to die driving the Suzuki van than you would driving the average car.

And that isn’t even the actual review – it’s just a special mention on the ‘Vans & Safety’ page.

On Monday, I took a permanent marker and three bits of brown paper and made some sale signs. I had only gotten halfway though box-taping the first one to the left-hand side of Sushi when the neighbour’s gardener hurried over. His face was covered in bits of spewed grass from a weed eater and he had an eager edge to his voice. $600.00 was his offer. I thought back to Mike’s advice and decided that at this price everybody would win. The deal was agreed to on the spot.

And so, just like that, in one week I will say goodbye to my first vehicle. Here’s a picture of Sushi with humans, and here is Sushi doing the washing.


Just an ordinary train