Dreams

So many conversations with people who we meet circle around this topic. Somehow it’s a bit dangerous for people to think themselves into our position. There is a pull towards the freedom they perceive in a journey like this, but then their real world calls them back, with all its obligations, commitments and its comforts. It is always an opening into them telling us about their lives: the newly married couple where the wife is the main carer for her previous life partner who had had a heart attack over 20 years ago and needs the level of care of a 1-2 year old child. The car park attendant with a family with teenage children who would love to go travelling but at the same time is scared to take the step. The sixty year old doctor who is an avid mycologist and who is counting the days to his retirement so he can go traveling. The Dutch couple from Venezuela who cannot settle again in Holland but needs to go where they find a Latin culture, somewhere where they can make their dreams a reality. The melancholic Spanish woman who has been on her own for over 20 years and whose dream it is to own a mobile home like ours. The colourful lady whose partner cannot fully commit himself to the relationship, who would love to go on a year long trip with him. The teacher on the point of retiring who feels young in her heart but her health and her husband are keeping her from following her dream.

 

I have always thought of this journey as a rite of passage, a journey I would take when my children have grown up and left home. It was always meant to be an outer as well as an inner journey for me.

We find that we are not just travelling in our waking lives, but also when we sleep – our nights are filled with vivid dreams. We are travelling in two parallel universes: Every night, I have at least three if not more significant dreams.

I dream a lot of my children, but also of my parents, especially my mother, whom I haven’t dreamt of for years. In the first dreams she was terminally ill, and there was a sense that I should put my journey on hold to spend time with her. She’s been getting better with every dream though, and last night she wasn’t ill at all, just a bit tired of having to organize a big family gathering. My father has figured too, and again, it started with him being very ill and old, and he’s getting progressively younger with every dream.

We live stories in our waking lives, but also in our dreams. In each case, we are given an opportunity to grab life with both hands. That seems to be the one important thing – to live everything to the full.

It’s my father’s birthday tomorrow, so I’ll add a picture of him, three weeks short of his death two years ago. Was habe ich doch für ein glückliches Leben gehabt (I’ve had such a happy life!) he kept saying, right up to the end of his days. This is someone who went through the war, managed to study when it was even hard to just find  food in Germany, built a family home, lost a child,  went through his fair share of toil and trouble, lost his wife 6 years ago, had a stroke – and yet he was full of sunshine.

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Rain

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I don’t think there’s more rain here than in England, but somehow you are closer to the elements when you are in a van and hear its drumming above your head. We also have a rogue leak somewhere that lets in water every now and then, depending on the strength of the rain and on the angle the van is standing. Just when you think it’s raining hard, it gets even harder, so loud you have to start shouting at each other in the van to make yourself heard. We’ve had a number of thunderstorms too.

Having felt restless and tried to get away from the rain on the first couple of days, we are now settling in to face it. The focus changes: more bandoneòn practice (yipeeh!), more wood fires inside, making shelves, reading and writing. Frank is making amazing meals with all the wonderful local produce that we pick up. We manage to find local organic producers in the most unlikely places. Yesterday, we were parked up for the night in Lalín, a small town on the way to Valgas where we are heading to go to a Tango concert. In the morning, Frank found an indoor market with an organic supplier.

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Rubén, a lovely young man who runs the shop on behalf of a group of producers in the region turns out to be a rugby fan and player too. Here is an article in spanish about the shop, with further photos too.

We find a very well appointed sports centre in Lalín, all paid for by the council, with swimming pool, sauna, gym, numerous classes, indoor tennis. After a number of days of rain and not being near lakes, mountain streams or the sea, we are very happy to get thoroughly clean again!

We catch the sun when it does pop out. We had some nice moments in Lugo, a town with a perfectly intact roman wall surrounding the old centre. There is a big rampart on the wall, so you can walk all around the city  centre. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the wall continuing behind us for a long way before it turns a corner and disappears from sight.

We meet a couple from Barcelona who get very inspired by the idea of a year long trip – well the woman does. The man says, now look what you have done, you’ve created a big problem for me! We stand and chat for a while, philosophizing about the world we are in and about the passing of time, until we separate after exchanging contacts and a promise to get in touch when we come to Barcelona. They’ll show us the Gothic Barrio in exchange for a Tango lesson.

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Lugo seems to be partially abandoned – so many houses are empty and falling down. We wonder if this is due to the crisis or due to their system of inheritance in which houses end up belonging to so many people that no-one can sell them, so they just fall to ruin. The people who walk around in Lugo seem to be quite well-heeled and the shops that are open (many abandoned shops fronts!) are predominantly fancy clothes shops and cafes. Maybe it’s quite a touristic town in the summer.

Every evening, the caravan park gets a visit from a couple in their sixties, who almost militarily walk up and down the car park. She seems to have to complete a number of laps before she drags her recalcitrant husband home, who meanwhile has been standing in the shadows smoking, waiting for her to finish her nightly exercise. We join her on her laps and as we get talking to her, we find out that she is a nursery teacher who can’t walk in the normal places in town for fear of being stopped every ten paces by at least three generations of townsfolk she has taught. As she is diabetic and her profession doesn’t allow her much exercise, she uses this empty car park as her exercise ground. Her husband on the other hand can’t walk because he has arthritic feet. She takes delight in rattling off the foreign number plates of the motor homes visiting this car park. One more year until she retires… It is her dream to have a campervan and go off. Her husband lets out a disgruntled noise at this idea.

Galicia is covered in exquisite woodlands and it smells of mushrooms everywhere. We sometimes get tempted to try and identify mushrooms via the book but feel that it’s a bit too dangerous without an expert person to advise us.

The Asturian mountains have given way to a landscape of rolling hills. The people seem a little more reserved here than in Asturias (Kike had warned us already), and the language seems to be half way between Portuguese and Spanish. The last two nights when we asked if we could park up for one night by the side of a woodland, we received each time a non-committal I don’t know, with a very reserved look, and a comment that police might come and chase us off. Yesterday, the farmer added the comment that he’s not the president to make a decision like this. But his wife was more helpful and pointed out that up on the hill was a church that had an area for festivities, where for sure we could park up and not be troubled by anyone. However, the hospitality did not extend to giving instructions on how to get there… a general wave of the arm was all we got. We could see the church from one end of the valley, but we had to ask again and do some detective work, in order to find it. It was worth it though; we found a lovely place for the night.

 


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