It’s been a while since I shared my stories. Coming back has been different from what I expected.
The journey through France went quite fast. Diesel is quite expensive and the weather was changing all the time: ‘wisselvallig’ as we say in Dutch. I ended up driving every other day or so, when the weather forecast wasn’t too good. Giving myself some time to enjoy the place I was at, walk around and do some work and not drive every day.
The Cevennes was again beautiful. Last year I crossed it from east to west, now from south to north. Up in the mountains it could still be really cold at night (just a few degrees). The trees weren’t yet covered in leaves, but whenever I drove through valleys, the whole world would slowly turn green. I guess if I had been 2 weeks later the whole trip would’ve been green. Interesting to see though, the effect of altitude/temperature on the state of nature.
I went from one natural park to the other. Although the more north I went, the more civilization was present in the parks. More vineyards and fields with grass and yellow flowering rapeseed than trees. This also made it more difficult to find really beautiful and peaceful places to stay (I have become really picky though…).
Because of all the rain that had been falling, the rivers and lakes were really full, which was beautiful. It made it easier to find a (sometimes really cold) shower/bath.
One evening, after a beautiful day, a massive storm came across. I was staying at a lake as the wind suddenly picked up and the lake slowly disappeared in a grey mist. Within a few minutes heavy rain was falling down, which turned into pretty big hail, with thunder flashing as my van was moving from the wind. On one hand it I thought it was quite funny, feeling ‘safe’ in my little home, but also a bit scared, since I’m just in a little van and the weather was pretty violent. I couldn’t even hear my teakettle whistling as the water was boiling. Fortunately, Lotje and me survived :).
On the first of May I entered the Netherlands again, into Vaals to visit my aunt. I never saw a border sign, but I did get a sign that said something like ‘de Limburgers heten u welkom” :’). It felt really good to enter the country again,
feeling like home. I had enjoyed the time on my own, however confronting it still is sometimes. Being more productive than I felt I was, but it was very nice to see and hug my aunt again. We enjoyed some beautiful vintage port from an amazing year: 1985, as we watched the Eurovision songcontest.
Unfortunately, we had to cancel the retreat we had planned, because no one had signed up. I’ve really come to realise how incredibly difficult it is to set something up whilst I’m travelling. I have learned a lot from having to arrange it, so it hasn’t been a waste of time, just a massive challenge.
To be honest, I had mixed feelings about returning ‘home’. When I came back in December, I had planned too much. Sleeping at different places all the time, which made it quite stressful (even though it was amazing that I was welcome in so many homes). Lovely to see friends and family, but I didn’t really feel at home. This time however, maybe also because I had Lotje with me and thus always a home, I was surprised by how good it felt to be back. As I was cycling through Rotterdam, I felt that I could actually live there again, which I really did not see coming. Not that it wasn’t good before, but I had felt the urge to want to live more in nature, not so much city life anymore. I also visited my house, to tend to the garden, which was long overdue. Being there also felt like I was looking forward to turning it into my home again. The weather has been amazing, which definitely helped a lot and was quite a contrast to the months before. People are just much more relaxed when the sun is out. I guess I can say that as I’ve been back, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a Dutch summer :).
My stay has been a great mix of seeing family and friends, working and me-time. I might be getting the hang of finding a bit more balance in my life and listening to what my needs are (at least sometimes…).
Even though the retreats and half my workshops were cancelled, the restorative yoga workshops did happen. And they were a delight to do! I have decided to plan another one (maybe 2) in October :). I’ve also been able to give massages, both for work at Surfana festival and as exchanges with friends (I really love those!). More and more I’ve come to realize that with making less of an effort, much more can happen (it’s like yoga ;)). Trying to make appointments with friends was sometimes tricky, but last-minute I’ve had really lovely get-togethers. Making it even more enjoyable cause I/we didn’t expect it. Also, going to a festival by myself felt a bit uncomfortable at times, but I ended up having great conversations and dancing all evening, with beautiful people I had just met.
I was even interviewed by the Dutch ANWB kamper en caravan kampioen, about being a traveling yoga teacher/bodyworker.
Vanlife in Holland has proven to be much more of a challenge though. Even though it feels good to be back, I don’t feel particularly welcome with my van. Officially it’s not really allowed to sleep in a vehicle, except in places where it is (very clear rule…). This tends to be where the truckers are allowed to sleep, next to the highway. Totally not where I want to be. Several cities have the environmental restrictions for vehicles, so I can’t go there either (yay for my foldable bike, which made life in Rotterdam a lot easier). Holland is just a bit too crowded (at least in the places where I need to be) to be able to peacefully stay in a van. And it makes me feel really restless if people tell me I can’t park somewhere or when I stay somewhere and my windows is tapped just after dark, with police telling me I can’t stay and have to leave (I’m getting too old for that :’)). I mean I get it, but it annoys me. And campings tend to be quite expensive. So, in that sense I’m really looking forward to being on the road again.
In these past few weeks I’ve gone from, feeling hesitant to come back, to feeling happy to be back and seriously considering to quit vanlife, to a lot of doubt, fear and confusion about what to do, to taking some time to feel and decide what feels right (but besides that I’m very emotionally stable and totally zen :’)). Turns out that I want to go to Scandinavia and back to Spain, but not be by myself too much. I do really want to grow my massage and yoga business, for which I feel I need to settle a bit more. And generally, I would like to settle down. Finding someone special to explore and share life with and not having the restlessness of traveling all the time. It was just that the idea of moving back to Rotterdam and having to arrange enough work to pay the bills, within about 2 months, was a bit too much too soon. I’ve also been wanting to go north with my van since the beginning (although I had always said I didn’t want to go by myself), since I’ve heard that it’s beautiful, and you can camp pretty much anywhere. And on top of that, I would love to go back to Spain and visit Carlos on his land and see if I could be of help there for an extended period.
So before settling down (although plans always tend to change…), I’m going to Scandinavia via Berlin (Hi Mark, Marrit and Raja :)). And because I could see myself being alone for 3 months in the beautiful middle of nowhere there, I volunteered to work at Ängsbacka. Ängsbacka is a course and festival centre for personal and spiritual growth. They needed people to help with everything during summer. I figured that it would be interesting to be there for a month, during the time that they are hosting a yoga festival, a tantra festival and a personal growth course. And lucky me (and them ;)), instead of doing dishes or gardening (which I would have also been happy to do), they told me during our Skype interview, that they were happy to have me as the staff bodyworker during that period. Exciting, yet hard work for me, since I’ll be doing 3 sessions a day, 6 days a week. I’m not sure I’ll have space to enjoy much of the festivals, but it will be fascinating networking and amazing work experience.
So, thank you sunny Holland and all the lovely people in my life, for making me feel the beauty of coming back. But for now, keep your eyes out for Lotje in Scandinavian beauty! <3