Busy times being back with Lotje!
After I came back from my time in Holland, I had some time to myself. First, I needed to get a new water pump and leisure battery. Many mornings, I got the comment ‘ah nice, you’re making an espresso!’ because of all the noise from the pump. Time for a new one! And my leisure battery hadn’t been working well since my last return form the Netherlands, when it had gotten totally drained. After I got these, I went back to a place near Faro, where me and my vanlife family had parted ways before I left.
It felt good to be back with Lotje.
I felt more at peace and had more space. Time to reflect on everything that had happened during these past weeks. And time to work more on the Wicked Retreat plans!
I had decided to wait for a friend, Miranda, with whom I would drive to Spain to meet up with the others, before continuing to Morocco. The weather was nice, especially compared to what I came from. Good weather to do some writing for the new website that had to be made and install my new pump. Wow, what a difference that makes, it’s so quiet!
After Miranda arrived, we drove to Spain. Staying the night at the surreal western-like town of El Rocio. Here, they had everything, except paved roads… and since it had been raining, there was mud everywhere! Before we continued our journey, we had a walk around town. There was a beautiful lake with loads of birds, so we were happy to have taken some time to actually have a look around and also enjoy our trip. Sometimes we forget to enjoy the surrounding, because we’re too focussed on getting somewhere. And this town was definitely worth our time.
As we continued our drive south, Miranda had to pull over. Her battery light had switched on. We both had no idea what to do, so she called the Dutch roadservices, whom informed us that the battery wasn’t being charged anymore. So, this was something to get checked out immediately. We went to a garage in a nearby city, where they were able to replace her alternator the same day (yay for google translate and being two ‘helpless’ women). I have to say, I felt a bit relieved that there were car troubles, but the troubles weren’t mine :-).
The next day, we arrived at a surfbar/parking called Las Dunas near El Palmar, where the others had been staying. It was great to see everyone again! Since the weather forecast was crappy, we decided to stay there. At least now, we had a bar with ok-ish wifi. We made our little office space near the power sockets every day, very inspiring and productive. The 3 days there, I spent mostly behind my laptop. I had set a crazy deadline of wanting to put my website and facebook, including the programmes, online on blue Monday. Figured that might be nice to use to promote our amazing retreats. Quite some pressure to finish a new logo and putting together a website… I’m really thankful to Carlos for all his help (thank you thank you!) and superproud and happy with how it turned!
I’m also quite amazed by what I put together in such a short time.
The reactions of friends and family were also wonderful. It was interesting how I got really nice feedback from people whom I really didn’t expect it from. And from some people whom I feel close to don’t say anything, which seemed to get to me more. Still looking for approval. And there was the insecurity of putting something great together and thinking that no one is going to be interested in it, that popped up.
It was, however, a beautiful and exhausting process of excepting help, asking for and receiving feedback, learning to communicate/write better and clearer and letting others take care of me, while working pretty long days/evenings. It was great to receive food and be taken out for a surf by Stefan, with one of my longest waves surfed so far.
Also, the feeling of weekend, even though it was Monday, after everything went online was great. I felt like I had so much spare time all of a sudden.
The last day, before the crossover was spend near Tarifa, where we were meeting up with Mark and Marrit and met a new couple with baby, who would join us too. We bought our boat tickets from Klaus. A Belgian man who could have easily been Santa Claus’ brother, living in his bulletproof Mercedes bus.
Then, the day had come to cross-over to Morocco! We were all super excited. Stefan had said that he wanted to make a documentary of the Morocco trip, so we were doing the ‘spontaneously driving away together’ in front of the camera stuff. At midday, we drove to the harbour, to catch the boat that was supposed to leave at 13.00. Arriving there, we were told that the harbour was closed, because of too much wind (it was indeed super windy…). So, no boattrip… We could take the boat the next day at 9.00 or 13.00, so we drove back to where we’d stayed, for another night. That was a proper anti-climax.
The next (very early) morning, we, with a lot less excitement, drove to the harbour again and got on the boat. Within an hour, we docked at Tangier, Morocco (almost like going to Terschelling :-)). Another hour of paperwork and registrations and we were off. It felt a bit helpless without internet, but the rule was, if you can’t see the person driving behind you, you pull over, as to not loose each other.
It’s a bit more chaotic, driving here.
Klaus had told us that the north wasn’t very interesting so we should make our way south quite quickly. We found a camping where we stayed for 2 nights, to have some time to arrive in this new country and on this new continent. We had electricity, showers, drinkable water and got our new sim cards sorted.
I was still having leisure battery power issues, it wasn’t being charged properly. We were driving a lot more now and it still wasn’t full. Together with the men, we checked what we could, which wasn’t much. Everything appeared to be properly connected, it’s just not charging, so probably something with my alternator (I was so relieved when Miranda had the alternator issue, and not me, but here I am…).
The second day I had a bit of a breakdown. I had had some shitty nights, where I hadn’t slept properly and had been feeling quite emotional. I felt lost, ungrounded. Since a few days, I was struggling with simultaneously having a male and female role in this vanlife life, which was a bit too much. When we were on the road, having to step out of the van to join the men discussing plans of where to go next, while the women stay in the vans with the babies. Having to think of the battery issues of Lotje, that I have to do something with. These feel more like ‘manthings’ (which seems unfair, expecting men to be able to more easily handle these things. The conditioning of ‘male’ and ‘female’ roles and expectations, which is apparently more ingrained than I would like it to be) And on the other hand, I wanted to be held and cared for, not feeling that I have to do it all by myself. This was emphasized by some of the Moroccan men who had been asking if I was travelling alone and why I didn’t have a man, while I was already struggling with wanting to let go of some love life challenges.
That day, after breakfast as I was talking to Carlos, I just started to cry. He, and the others as they saw me, cared and were super sweet and supportive. In the end, I felt relieved.
The connections were beautiful, which were a huge gift.
In this vanlife, everything changes so often, taking me out of my comfort zone, challenging and confronting me. It makes me feel strong and independent, but also small and vulnerable (both physically and emotionally). Even though I am alone in my van and sometimes feel alone, I am not, of which I was beautifully reminded.
At the moment though, having been in Morocco for a week, I’m not really feeling it yet. We’ve stayed at some nice places, but the weather has been pretty grey and it feels like we’re chasing something that isn’t there (yet)…