Portugal, Spain and France, goodbyes for now

The time of goodbyes-for-now had come. Leaving Spain for a bit, to go back to Portugal for the Spring celebration Marrit and I had organised. But first, there was the hippiemarket that Stefan, Sabrina, Mark and Marrit were already at.

The drive to Portugal was really nice. Except for the part where I drove through Sevilla. I wanted to get a decent microphone for the recordings I’m doing for my yoga video’s and there was supposed to be a big shop there selling it. Unfortunately, it appeared to be closer to the city center than I had thought. And since I tend to listen to google maps, I almost got my van stuck between two walls. The signs had said a max width of 1.9m and that’s pretty much exactly what I am, from mirror to mirror. Luckily, the mirrors can fold in. The small issue was that the edges of the curbs were a bit closer together than my wheels are apart. So, with shaky legs and a racing heart, I burned some rubber as I got some weird looks by people in the street, who were probably thinking the same thing as I “what the hell is she doing here with a van?”. But I got through… Lovely city though, Sevilla. I would like to visit it properly, without a van, sometime. I didn’t get my mic though. But the greatness of Spanish Amazon is that they too have UPS pick-up point delivery. I ordered my mic and had it delivered just across the border, so I could pick it up on my way back from Portugal. I can say that I’m now the proud owner of my own ‘big vintage-white cock’ ;).

Goodbyes for now…

It was a bit strange, but familiar too, to be back in Portugal. I was just in time for the market, but it was quite busy. I’m not a big fan of the crowd there, it’s just too much people and input for me, especially in the vibe I was in. I was really looking to find a balance between needing to be alone and wanting to be with friends while I still could. I had thought to do hennas at the market, while the others were cooking again. It all didn’t sell too well. I left the market before dark, to go to the forest and enjoy some quiet after the busy day at the market. There had been a plan, of me partying with the guys to celebrate our time together and for me to try some MDMA, which I’ve been told could be quite enjoyable. But they had already gone to the pizza party two nights before and the vibe at the market wasn’t good for partying, so it never happened. I’ve been curious about trying it, but also very hesitant, something in me kind of says ‘no’. I have been sitting with that feeling for quite some time, wondering why. And a while ago it dawned on me: if I would use something like that, I feel I’m not good enough as I am, which makes me incredibly sad, because it feels all too familiar. I’m not saying I’ll never try anything, but I do understand my resistance now and it makes sense.

The day after the market, we met up again at Ingrina, the place where we had been staying together many times. This time however, many other vans were staying there as well. It felt too busy for me, but I decided to stay, because it was my last week together with them all. Turned out that that wasn’t the best idea. The next morning, I woke up feeling all upset and almost aggressive. My mind wouldn’t stop replaying unhappy past situations and adding some more imaginary drama to them. I went through a little breakdown and decided to leave. The moment I drove away from the busyness, I felt myself calm down. I went to Sagres in search for a longboard, which I didn’t find and was hoping to surf, but the conditions just weren’t good enough.
One night I stayed in a place we call Slackline valley. There were 2 other vans. I was all settled in my bed, candles lit and watching a Spanish tv series (that’s how you learn right?), when the GNR came (the sort of police, but not really). They had become more active in sending people away and giving fines (of €200…) because the season was slowly starting. I freaked out just a little. Turned out it was a really nice officer, who told me I wasn’t allowed to camp there. He wrote down all my info (I’m in the system now…), but didn’t fine me. I got to stay the night, after I told him I wasn’t comfortable driving at night. The last nights in Portugal did become a bit more uncomfortable for me now, since they had my info and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get fined if they found me at another place they were clearing.

After a few nights by myself I went back to the others again at Ingrina. This time, with just a few other vans and a completely different vibe, so all was well again.
We spend the last days together before we had to say our goodbyes to Stefan, Sabrina and Mavie, one part of my vanlife family, go to the retreat location for our sweatlodge event. It’s a strange feeling, after spending so much time together over the past months, to now not know when we’ll meet again.

Our Sweatlodge space

Then it was time for our sweatlodge ceremony day! I got to meet a wonderful bunch of people. The day was beautiful. The weather was good. I got to teach yoga again, which had been a while, but it was so inspiring to do again. This was the first time I finished a class with chanting Ohm. I never used to do it. It had never felt right yet. Mainly, because I thought that people wouldn’t want to do it and that I would look stupid. But a while before, I had had a conversation with Sandra. She told me that my head was getting in the way and that I should just give it a try, which I did and it was beautiful, just like she’d said.

Yoga time! Gently preparing for our beautiful ceremony

Afterwards we started the sweatlodge ceremony hosted by Marie. Marrit and me were able to actually join, because it wasn’t a retreat anymore, but a gathering of friends. It was an intense and beautiful ceremony, with singing, sharing, tears, laughter and a lot of sweat. It really made me feel that I am ready for the whole package that is life. Not just looking to experience the happy joyful stuff (I do want that… ;)), but I’m also feeling willing to face my darker stuff. Not that I haven’t faced any darkness so far, because I have. But now, it feels more like a choice, that there might be more space to embrace it, instead of fighting so hard. We’ll see…
We ended with a dinner together. However, the whole idea of a celebration in the evening didn’t happen, because everyone was too tired.
The next morning, after another yoga session and breakfast it was time to say more goodbyes. To the lovely people I had just met and to the other part of my vanlife family. Even stranger to say goodbye to them, since we had travelled together so much. Fortunately, we have already been discussing plans of a sweatlodge ceremony with Marie in Berlin, so we’ll meet again! I never considered myself much of a baby person, but I’m missing little Raja…

Then the trip back became a fact. Leaving Portugal again (without getting fined :)), returning to Spain. It made me realise that I really like Spain. Everything feels so alive. I thought about visiting Sevilla and Granada, but didn’t in the end. Wasn’t in a city mood and the weather was to shitty. It was time to be in nature by myself, which sounds a bit better than it was, because the rain just kept coming back…
It’s funny how, when I’m with people, choosing to be own my own, I’m always a bit afraid that something will go wrong with my van. But now, being on the road by myself, I’m good. I have become a bit more cautious when it comes to muddy roads, but I’m ok.

Yes, fun!

I had a week to drive up to Barcelona, where my sister would join me for a few days. I had some beautiful drives through nature, past the little white Spanish villages, that are everywhere.
In Spain there aren’t many circular walking routes, most just go from one place to the next, which for me, is totally impractical. I usually end up walking for a bit and then just walking back. Everything looks different when you come from another direction anyway. The only thing is, when will your turn to go back… 🙂 However, I found a beautiful area at Zuhero, with a waterfall and a small river, with a 2-hour circular route. I figured, lets’ go after breakfast. Just bring some water so I don’t have to carry a bag, easy peasy. The beginning was lovely, a bit cloudy, but the sun came out too, totally loving it. Then, after about 2 hours I kept going up… entering a field, where the freezing wind had picked up and it started to rain… in my face… Not so much fun anymore. Then I saw a sign with the name of the village I needed to go back to, pointing in the direction I wasn’t going to and being 1.5 hours away… I freaked out a little. I saw a man, Paco, walking towards me. I asked him where he came from and if he was going to where I needed to be. He came from somewhere I didn’t want to go to, so in the end we walked the whole way back together. Practicing my Spanish with him and enjoying our surroundings. Luckily the weather got better again, but my 2-hour walk had turned into a 4.5-hour one. I was tired, hungry, dry again and couldn’t be happier to see my van, but grateful for the unexpected, nice hiking company.

Big sis quality time 🙂

Then it was time so see my big sister! It was lovely, after not having seen each other in almost 4 months. We visited a friend of hers, who lives beautifully, surrounded by nature. We had some nice conversations, good laughs, got a bit lost looking for a waterfall, had lunch in the crater of a volcano and hiked up Puigsacalm mountain. It made me realise again, that 2 people in a van is a lot more challenging than one might think… But fortunately, the weather had turned for the better, making the living space a lot bigger, so we managed well. Time flew and I had to bring her to the train in Girona. We’ll see each other again next month, making it ok to say goodbye again.

All the way up to Puigsacalm mountain.

The trip continued to France, by myself again for the next 2 weeks. Driving through the mountains looking for pretty places to stay the night. Working a bit, writing a lot, binge watching Nashville, studying Spanish, exploring, meditating and taking pretty cold ‘showers’ and baths in streams from the mountains.
As I’m getting closer to seeing everyone again, I do feel that I miss the people back home. From time to time feeling that I’m being totally selfish and a not very nice person for having left. I can really enjoy being alone and I need it too, but it also gives me a lot of time and space to reflect, doubt and fear. On the other hand, I feel so grateful for being able to have this experience… all of it.

I don’t feel that I’m done yet, so here’s to another year together with Lotje!

In search for this beauty, The water was a bit chilly though…

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