More than 16,000 people in Los Angeles live in cars, vans and buses. Some are part of the “schoolie” movement, families who have bought an old school bus and converted it into a mobile home.
Photographer Dotan Saguy met Ismael and Greice Reis and their three children on the first day they arrived in the city in 2019 in their yellow school bus. Ismael and Greice were Mormons, originally from Brazil. The kids were aged two, five and 10. Saguy spent most of the year photographing the family as they tried to survive in LA in their bus. His book Nowhere to Go But Everywhere documents their progress.
They had been travelling by then for six months after Ismael had given up his job as a waiter in Delaware. They had set out with a tank full of gas and $400. Casual work had proved hard to find. Their worst stories always began “Our bus broke down”. Once, in Pennsylvania, in the absence of alternatives, Ismael was forced to sit outside a Walmart with a cardboard sign reading: “Hungry, travelling with family, auto problems, please help.” He raised $200 in an hour.
Though the family set out with the idea of being missionaries, they had come to doubt their faith. A different kind of philosophy had taken over, one they learned from watching The Lion King: “hakuna matata”, no worries, live for the moment. “I’m totally devoted to it,” Ismael said. “I’m not thinking about how I’m going to pay my bills next month or whether I’m running out of milk. It’s almost like you’re Tarzan swinging on a vine: in order to continue moving, you need to let go and trust the next vine will be there to carry you forward. If you don’t let go because your current vine feels firm, strong and secure, you’ll just swing back and forth without going anywhere.”
Nowhere to Go But Everywhere by Dotan Saguy is out next month (Kehrer Verlag, £36)