Categories
Spain

Abi wants to walk the Camino

Oh yes, our family has quite a history with the “Camino de Santiago”. Our first experience with it was in 2004 when we took our whole family and 12 friends. TJ was only 2 at the time and took her first steps on the Camino. Lizzy walked the Camino with our friend Cindy when she was only 12 years old. Sam, not to be outdone by his younger sister, walked the Camino last year. He went with his best friend, Donald. Abi feels that it is now her turn.

Look at her so keen, so cute. All she needs is a responsible adult to accompany her. She wants to go in June. She wanted me to put up this post to see if any friends, who would also fit the bill of reasonably responsible adult, would want to go. The walk is 550 Km from Pamplona to Santiago.

Categories
Bosnia/Herzegovnia Croatia France Monaco Spain

Thru the Western Europe South edge

Went thru Western Europe.

After the Dali Museum we dropped off Alana in Italy. We miss giggly, colourful Alana. Now we are only 5. Such a small group. So much less than the 9 we were just a short time ago.

We stopped off in Venice. Dad took lots of touristy pictures of the younger girls feeding the pigeons.

I took the girls to the Leonardo Da Vinci. There were all sorts of machines created from his drawings. We got to touch them and crank them and go inside some of them. Quite fun. We expected Hannah to be in heaven. TJ looked for bones, again, and found them on the wall in some of the paintings. We told her about how DaVinci opened up dead bodies to see how peoples bodies worked on the inside. She thot that was great and would like to do that as well if they let her keep the bones.


We saw some amazing masks in Venice. We bought some plain ones and painted them ourselves.


Andrew has been working on the car electrics. Mixed success.


Abigail got my attention at the grocery store. “Mom”, she said, “That guy is named Jesus”. I told her how that is a reasonably popular name in Spain and Italy. One night in Italy we were parked in one of the  really small and overcrowded rest areas in Italy and this truck driver told us a much better, hidden place to park. Later, we looked at his truck, It said Jesus on the side of it. Thot that was funny so took a photo.

We are now in Croatia. We love Croatia. Not much internet. Sorry for the sparse blog entries. We were last here before TJ was born. We have made it down to Dubrovnik this time. It is a great old city but way too many tourists. We kinda like the hidden fishing villages and the deserted areas best. We found one campground, north of Split, that only cost us 13 euros, no passports needed, no electricity, no trash. Just a couple of clean toilets and a solar shower. An old olive grove. Nice people. We liked that place. Took our blow up Canoe out into the crystal clear water.

We head for places beyond tomorrow. Getting closer and closer to Macedonia. We need to be there by the 9th.

So this is where we have been on this last leg – Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Croatia and Bosnia/Herzegovnia.

Highlights.

Spain – Dali Museum, Beneficio, Salami.

France – great picnic areas to stop at for the night, Motorhome shops, FOOD.

Monaco – well, didn’t see much of it, couldn’t find where to park our big truck – but we went through this tiny country.

Italy – Lasagna, Pizza, Pizza, Pizza – always great pizza – we love pizza – Venice – ice cream – food – downside, can they make their rest areas any smaller. We had to stop so early in the day just to get a spot to park at the rest areas for the nite – poor truck drivers.

Croatia – bakeries, small cheap campgrounds, crystal clear water.

Bosnia/Herzegovnia – we only went through about 7 km of it but it was quite thrilling it being in the news and all. We saw gunshots in a sign. Ooooooh! We saw a bolder in the road and the car that hit it. Ooooooh! What excitement!

What fun. Bit tired. lLots of driving. Looking forward to staying put some when we get to Macedonia. Also, looking forward to seeing some friends.

Categories
Roadschooling Spain

Dali, Dali, Dali

We made it to the Dali Museurm. The Surrealism dude. The painter and sculptor. The show off. Sam and Liz will be upset but we got them postcards. We all had a great time and went through in our old way.

Alana and Abi running around mumbling, “Dali, Dali, Dali!” with the glee of little girls. Quickly twirling from painting to sculpture, from ceiling to floor.

Hannah, in solitude and deep thought contemplating the extreme rebel and individuality in his creativity.

Andrew, with a book in one hand contemplating the complexity, intelligence, the spirituality and references to other artists.

Me and TJ wandered around together made a great time to talk about a person that wasn’t as concerned with what people thought. He didn’t care if people thought it was pretty or silly. He was his own person. Making things that said what he wanted to say or were just plain silly. And TJ loved to hear that Dali’s bones were buried there. Dali seemed to like bones too, and rocks.

I wasn’t aware of how he worked so much with found objects. Even the building was recycled.

Well worth a visit. We noticed that at 2:00 alot of the bored school kids left and the museum was alot less crowded. Worth noting for future museum visits.

Categories
Spain

A week in the South of Spain

So here we are, a week into our time in El Moreon, Spain. Just down river from the Beneficio Family. We were supposed to leave on Thursday but one of our start-up batteries decided to announce it’s retirement from active duty. As things seem to go, our truck was surrounded by mechanics at the moment of truth and they jumped to action. So, here we are, 4 days later, expecting the delivery of 2 new batteries. One of our old batteries is already in place, ready to start our 12 volt solar bank. Our dead battery gets left behind to go to Danny, the guy who runs the health food store in town and loves to bring new use to dead batteries.

How did we use our week, you may ask.

We adopted a puppy from our mechanic. An El Moreon/Beneficio mutt. Named him Inigo. He has also been traveling since the day he was born. Poor thing, he has already had is first vaccine. He pooped all over the table at the vet he was so scared. We have a schedule of more vaccines and stuff. He now has is temporary passport and is ready to travel with the family.

We hiked up along the river to Beneficio. It takes long legg Andrew an hour for this hike each way. Took us 2 hours plus but oh the wonders we saw along the way. Including lots of sunbathing lizards and a smushed snake on the road. TJ wanted to take the dead snake back with us to watch the decaying process on a daily basis. Uh, yeah, I know, wierd. We decided against this as we live in a very confined space.

Some of us took a shower in a waterfall.

We filled up our waterbottles from the source of our river. The river we have been hiking next to and crossing over and dipping into all week. How great to hike to the source of the river.

Ever think about where your river comes from? It could very well be something magical and beautiful like we found. Ours comes from a spring of water tripping over a rock on the edge of a transparent pool of spine tingling icy cold water.

Some of us went in. Who? You guessed it. Abi, Alana and Hannah.

Hung out with a friend from the “Hippie Van” in Morocco, Chris, at the tipi he is living in.

Andrew and Alana and Abi hiked up to Franchesca’s straw bale house that she is making.

Franchesca and her friend have been making a mixture of mud and cactus goo and it was now ready to go on some walls.Abi and Alana, worked on, uhhh, helped with, uhhhh. They threw some mud around and some made it onto the walls.

Me and Andrew did a Tango workshop. Swiss tango instructors who live in their truck with their 3 young boys. They have a geodesic dome that they have removed the cover of for repair.  We entered the dome frame thru double wooden doors. Their part monkey son with the long blonde hair spent most of the time swinging from one bar to another over our heads as we learned how to listen to nonverbal cues and respond to each other as we move around the dance floor in random intentionality. Most definitely a surreal experience.

We have bought some amazing wholemeal, or integrated, bread from some of the most interesting international bakers we have ever met.

We also sampled and learned how to make chocolate desserts that are raw and vegan. They are made with raw chocolate and no sugar. Avocados for creaminess, dates and bananas and Agave syrup for sweetness, buckwheat and seeds for crunch. Very rich and gooey and yummmmmy.

Abigail got some recipes and the ingredients to add to her collection as well as a couple of “funky raw” magazines.

Yes, Maureen, that is your daughter – COOKING. Actually she has been cooking lots of wonderful things for us. Don’t ever let her try to convince you she can’t cook again.

We have also been hanging out with our new friends. Will and Kie and their girls, Albi and Ziz are our neighbours. Hannah, the book geek, is hanging with Albi, a fellow book geek and plan to do a book exchange – if they can stop playing for long enough. Will is building his mechanic’s workshop into the back of their horsebox. They also open up cafes outside of their truck. Just a few tables and chairs and a homemade sign and the healthy, tasty treasures that come out of their little, kitchen.

Another family is finishing fitting out the back of their truck to take off to the some festivals in UK and Berlin, including the worldpeace festival. They do amazing, creative sessions and installations with oversized puppets and flowers.

Andrew helped produce a CD and his group of gifted musicians.

We really like it but figure it is time to go…. possibly…. this evening…. or maybe…. tomorrow morning….. or…. ?

You know, it is all so relaxed here.

Categories
Spain

Inigo

WE HAVE A PUPPY! WE HAVE A PUPPY! WE HAVE A PUPPY!

PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY!!!!!!!

i like puppies….

Alana

Categories
Portugal Spain

Hanging in Spain and Geocaching success

So to catch up or should I also say “Cache” up. He, he, he.

We went out the next day to try again. We looked at the comments and looked for one that everyone found that tried. and……

SUCCESS!!!

So we touched into Portugal and Paulo and Edna came down to see us at Monte Gordo. Paulo found a little Chameleon.We named him Fred and put him in a comfy tree after giving him lots of cuddles.

We got a new football as our old one went astray in Morocco. Of course, we had to test it, so we put our best footie player on the job.

We went to find some friends in the Beneficio Family in the South of Spain. We could not stay at Beneficio because a landslide last winter blocked the road in but we found the most amazing collection of communities of traveller folk, gypsies and circus people from all around the world at the other end of the valley.

Trucks and geodesic domes, yurts and tiny stone homes everywhere, with lots of kids to play with. We are not seeing much of our kids these last few days as they now have many friends to keep them occupied. Many people have just left to “do the festivals” but enough remain to make some good friends.

Categories
Spain

Happy Birthday Lizzy

Yesterday was Lizzy’s 17 birthday. Wow, my little girl. So big. You know she checked our heights this week and she is officially taller than me. Yup! I must be shrinking. I am just so happy with the woman she is becoming. I am excited that she is so beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. I am excited that the child inside her is still alive. I love the things that make her Lizzy. Her determination to do her best. You know, she took up the saxophone this year. She practices at least an hour a day. She sounds so great now. She has so many dreams. So many creative dreams. When she was a little girl she taught me to see beauty. I hope she will find a way to share this gift. She will probably be going to stay with Jessica in Austin, Texas in just a couple of months. She will be gone until June. What a difficult stage to be a mum. If you do your job well, your children fly off to follow their dreams. Hmmmmm.

OK enough of that, you old sob story of a mum. I get way too sappy at 4 am.

Here was our day.

splizbdaysweetie.jpg

We started off with a sweetie from one of the many sweetie stalls on the road. Abi especially liked this lady because of all the pink.

splizbdaybamboo.jpg

Me and Lizzy and Abi went into Tarifa and went to some cafes. Partly because we wanted tea or juice. Partly because we enjoyed talking and dreaming. Partly because we couldnt figure out when siesta would be.

Dang, they have a long siesta. It goes from 1-5:30 here.

Another coffee shop.

splizbdaysmore.jpg

Andrew made a great BBQ complete with ribs and smores. I’m not quite sure why Sam is glowing here. Could be all that rapid movement.

spblizbdayhat.jpg Elizabeth created a birthday hat from the broken base of our mini globe and is sporting her new shades. She likes them because they remind her of the goggles she wore in science class.

splizbday.jpg

Abi made a great birthday cake (14 carrot cake) in our flat-pack coleman camp oven (thanks Mercy for the oven).

Happy Birthday Lizzy.

Categories
Spain

Mature Travellers

Just met another amazing retired couple. This couple is German. I am starting to see more and more of these amazing older couples that I cant help but admire. There are some couples that buy their “white plastic” for part-time fun and keep their “bricks and mortar” to come back to. There is this complete other breed, however, that demands respect.

One of the first couples I met recently that I would put into this category would be a couple I met in the South of England. He came up to our truck at a “Camping and Caravanning Club” Site at an old Nursery. He knocked on my door, introduced himself and said

“We are terminal”.

“Excuse me? What was that?”

“I have terminal cancer. I am travelling with an old friend from school. She has emphysema. She is terminal too. We were told to wait around in some old home. Wait to die. We thought this would be better. We cant leave UK because of insurance. We need electricity for the oxygen. I pull a small van behind the motorhome that holds our 2 mobility scooters. We thought this was a better way to live out our last days. We have been travelling like this for 3 years now.”

You just gotta respect this couple.

sptarblueoverin.jpg

I met another German overland couple yesterday. There is something very amazing about this couple. They have been traveling their whole lives. In Germany they say it was with them in the cradle of their birth. I like that. However, Peter is now retired so they have enough money to go where they want. They have been traveling full-time for 7 years now. They have just come back from Morocco and will go to Asia this summer. OK a little math. That would make him at least 72 right? This couple is strong. I would not consider anything about them frail.

They travel the world in their Mercedes, ex-military, self-build overlander. It is an honour to spend time with them. It is worth learning German just to learn from them. There is this thing that they carry too. They are strong, self-assured, confident. They dont brag – they dont need to. In the last 7 years they have put on 400,000 km and been all over the world with her. Literally, in our short time together she talked to me about their trips to Africa, India, Alaska, United States and talked to me about their 3 weeks in a freighter bringing their truck back from South America. Not really bragging. Talking about it as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.

I couldn’t imagine them fading away in an old folks home. They will probably die parachuting off some cliff or something. Yeah.

They are not the first German couple we have met like this. Ooooh they are their own breed. They are…. wow I have run out of good adjectives – I think you get the idea.

This reminds me of an old man I met in Orkney. He was there in his motorhome. He was living in it full-time. He told me, “I’ve only been living in my motorhome a few years. I was in a Narrow boat for about 20 years but then it got too difficult moving it around everyday.”

“How old were you when you moved into the narrow boat?”

“Oh, 63 or so.”

That means this man of 83+ is travelling the world solo.

I mean why are we not hearing more about these really amazing older people? Their mere existence screams out “I WILL NOT GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT”. They aren’t waiting. They are LIVING.

I havent completely figured out this group of people. I probably never will. You see, I have seen a lot of hedonists travelling too. Travelling for the pleasure of it. Expecting the world to deliver every pleasure they desire. That is not what these people are about. It is the heart and soul of the adventurer they possess. It is more about witnessing the beauty and diversity of the world. Of standing up in their big, functional, well worn hiking boots or their mobility scooter and saying “I am a witness”. As a people that stand up high and are worthy of heaps of respect and saying “I respect that”. I want to hover in their shadows and look at where their fingers are pointing and learn from them.

Our world is too infatuated with youth. It is really quite ridiculous. First, we have make-up and hair dye. Now, we have moved on with all our heroes getting surgery to make them look younger. Am I the only one seeing this as sorta weird. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m no spring chicken myself but I have been thinking about this for a while now.

We shove our old people aside like garbage. Sure we look after them. Kinda. We help their bodies live that little bit longer but what about their souls. What about listening to them. Learning from them. They have so much to give.

With this couple I met yesterday I didn’t even know what to ask. I must have sat there, staring with my mouth gaping open looking like an idiot. They had so much to teach me. Being wise they gave out precious morsels from time to time. I think that the most I learned from them though was not so much in what they said or did but who they are. What they have been becoming. Just being in the same space with them taught my soul volumes. Does that make any sense? Am I getting weird now? I am just not sure how to word it. Like being in the room with ripe fruit – true maturity. I feel empowered, like I can see better.

I feel my spirit soar.

Yeah, that’s it.

Categories
Spain

Wild Camping, etc, outside Gibraltar

We have finally left Portugal. I know, I know, but we love it there. So anyways, here we are outside Gibraltar. We have been wild camping with about 30 campervans etc. We were in this big dirt parking lot right next to the border crossing. Kinda surreal actually. We were in Spain, La Linea de la Conception. We were carrying our passports so we could go back and forth from “Little Britain” (Gibraltar) to Spain. Gibraltar was great for some tastes of where we have been calling home before starting our journeys this time. Elizabeth went to Morrisons and filled a bag with malt loaf. Andrew took some of us to a pub and we had chips and cheese. Samuel, Donald and Alana were busy til late evening going back and forth from country to country. Me and Abi found some insulin and even a place to get a blood test done for her diabetes for just 9.90 OK, not as much fun as malt loaf but necessary. Hannah is just happy to have some more famous 5 books from the second hand bookstore.

spgibandplane.jpg

Once you cross the border you walk or drive across the airport runway, through a tunnel and into, well, a great big duty-free street. I must say, we were a bit disappointed with the amount of English books. Maybe our expectations were a bit high. We did find a good second hand book store in a cake shop. We did have a good time.

We made lots of new friends. Full-timers, like us. Pen has lived on the road for years and is sporting a van conversion of his own creation.

spgibchas.jpg

Pen took off 5 years ago with some friends for one year. After one month he realized he wanted to do this full-time, went back long enough to sell his house and is living off the interest. It is just him and 2 stray dogs he adopted in Spain. “Boss” and “Wife” took off in the big green bus one month ago with 5 big dogs and her daughter, “Child” (10 years old). She became instant friends with TJ and Hannah. Here they are sporting their “best friend hats” they found at a Chinese shop.

Boss’s wife had cancer a couple of years back and after chemo realized she had strayed far from her teenager dream of travelling full-time. When her hair grew back in curly instead of straight she cut it into a mohawk and started to make plans to start travelling with her daughter. As far as wild camping, well, we are coming to the conclusion that Spain seems to always be hard. After 3 days in La Linea we were moved on by the police. I tell you in 10 minutes everyone was gone. All except 2 motorhomes. One of the remaining motorhomes had a blown engine and the second motorhome had the new engine for the first on their trailer. It is strange. Portugal seems to be quite accepting of wild campers as they spend money locally. France and Germany provide special low cost camping but Spain. It is SO HARD to bring a motorhome here. Campgrounds are really expensive and wild camping is really difficult. We are meeting more and more people with some experience on the road who skip through Spain as quickly as possible. They jump from Southwest France and plan their trip perfect so they can be in Portugal by the next evening. If they want to go further south they go to the south of Portugal and skip, as quickly as possible, to Morocco via Algeciras (where the cheap ferries are).

We have now left the Gibraltar area and are in Tarifa. We have just spent one night in a campground. Taking showers, washing clothes, charging electricity. After being overwhelmed at my big bags of laundry I have decided that small and decentralized is better. Just like our trash. When we first started out we accumulated big bags of trash that were hard to get rid of. We switched to small plastic carrier bags. Problem solved. So, applying the same principle to our laundry. Everyone will keep a pillow case in their locker for their dirty clothes and they will be responsible for it themselves. Dispersed and personal. If this doesn’t work we will have to try something else.

sptarifintruck.jpg

Unfortunately it rained the whole time so we were at this campground, huddled in our motorhome, walking through a lake, that had formed outside our truck to get anywhere. We did get to hang out and watch movies with our ample electricity.

Categories
Spain Travel

Driving through Spain

Back in Spain. We love the familiar site of the Huge black cow billboards dotting the country. Not sure why they are there.

spchoc

At one point on the long drive Andrew points out a Trapist Monastery on the Left side of the road at the same time I pointed out a small chocolate shop on the right of the road called “Trapa”. WHAT? TRAPIST CHOCOLATE! BUT THEY MAKE SOME OF THE BEST BEER IN THE WORLD! Now Andrew is not prone to Uturns but he made an exception. Everybody got out. It was GREAT chocolate and we do love our chocolate.

spchurros

While traveling I always encourage the kids to try new tastes and experiences. Last time in Spain I was out with Liz and Abi and saw a sign for Churros in a window. We didnt know what they were but decided to give it a go. Liz did not forget the experience and coming through Spain again she found them again.