'What makes you rob a hippie bus?'

Yukon family on journey of happiness and harmony finds trouble in St. John's; makes plea to robbers

Terry Roberts editor@cbncompass.ca
Published on November 28, 2008
The Haustein family of Dawson City, Yukon parents Holly and Kirsten and their sons, Joey and Ben are offering forgiveness and love to the thieves who stole from them in St. John's this week. They are shown here in Bonavista Thursday with their waste vegetable-oil-powered school bus. - Photo by Tony Seward/Transcontinental Media

A family of adventurous, planet-lovers from Dawson City, Yukon who travelled to Newfoundland aboard an old school bus powered by waste vegetable oil is looking to show a little love and forgiveness to the people who robbed them.

They also want their belongings back.

Holly and Kirsten Haustein, their sons Joey, 8, and Ben, 6, and dog Pongo, have been staying in Bonavista - their "winter camp" - since early October.

A family of adventurous, planet-lovers from Dawson City, Yukon who travelled to Newfoundland aboard an old school bus powered by waste vegetable oil is looking to show a little love and forgiveness to the people who robbed them.

They also want their belongings back.

Holly and Kirsten Haustein, their sons Joey, 8, and Ben, 6, and dog Pongo, have been staying in Bonavista - their "winter camp" - since early October.

They have drawn plenty of attention wherever they have gone, but not all of it has been good.

Last weekend, they were visiting St. John's to pick up supplies and attend the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

On Monday evening, a stranger entered their colourful home on wheels.

The Lilly Gypsywind, as they call it, is a 1979 school bus that looks like something you might have seen at Woodstock, and smells like a chip truck when it rumbles down the highway.

They were parked outside the Katimavik residence on Hamilton Avenue in St. John's Monday evening when the theft occurred.

It's believed two people were involved, with one person entering the unlocked bus and pitching items out the window for a second person to collect outside.

They got away with a digital camera, a backpack that belonged to an old friend of Holly's, and binoculars once owned by Kirsten's late father.

Their losses could have been worse.

Holly returned to the bus and found one of the culprits still inside.

"He was a young guy. He was confused. He tried to sell me the idea he belonged to the Katimavik people. Then he got nervous and started to cry. He said, 'Let me out. You got the wrong guy.' He slipped by me and was gone," Holly said Thursday during a telephone interview from Walkham's Gate Pub in Bonavista.

Holly "runs dogs up north" and is in good shape. He likely could have detained the thief, but said he's no hero.

The 40-year-old said he is "grieving" the loss of their belongings, and wants to reach out to the people who stole from them.

"We wondered, what makes you rob a hippie bus? We just wondered if this guy would have stayed, we probably could have changed his life for the better just by talking to him.

"If he wants to get in contact with us, we would just give him a f--king hug. We're not mad at all. There would be no charges whatsoever. It's just we could do a little healing with him if he gives our stuff back.

They call their cross-Canada journey "We Love Life."

They are "life-schooling" their children, living a life of simplicity, and are travelling green by using solar power for their energy needs and vegetable oil instead of pollution-emitting fuel to propel their bus.

They are living off their savings, and earning money by making music and selling art.

They moved to Dawson City from Germany eight years ago.

Holly drives horse wagons for tourists, while Kirsten works at a restaurant.

They say they are open-minded, non-religious and want to raise awareness to a "collective consciousness."

They hope to sell their bus next year, buy a sailboat and continue their journey by sea, likely to the Caribbean.

They choose to settle temporarily in Bonavista because it is a fishing community and they could "learn the trade of the sailors."

"We're just spreading love all over the place and feel sorry for the guys that they have to live such a poor life and don't really get the connection to the real idea of life," he said.

Holly said the items taken don't have much value, but are important to the family.

They can be reached by e-mail at lifelovesus@hotmail.com. The website is www.welovelife.ca.

troberts@thetelegram.com