Travel diary – From Pignans to Ponts

Hi friends 👋

We are currently at the edge of a beautiful river in Ponts, in the north of Spain 🇪🇸

Contrary to what I would have imagined, I do not yet have many photos or videos of breathtaking landscapes to share with you because life decided otherwise for our first days on the road trip. So I suggest we rewind to what has happened over our past few days!

Here are some personal notes that I will share with you regularly, such as a travel diary 🙂

I hope you’ll like them.

Day 1 – 09/05 – The grand departure.

Hi Jones, (the imaginary name I give to my notebook).
Today is the first day of our van trip. I feel both excited, a throwback to my childhood adventures and travel, and also a little stressed. After all, this is a new project and I have never experienced full-time van life before.
However, I also feel ready for this trip, aligned, serene. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time. We are currently in a small village called Montperyroux, a little after Montpellier. Very charming, it’s a little windy tonight, you can feel the van moving, it almost looks like an autumn evening.

Day 2 – 10/05 – Dream big. 

Hi Jones, the first night in the van: rain… But I did manage to sleep well with earplugs. We took the road early in the morning to escape the rain. After a short stop at a bakery on the road, just to enjoy a “pain chocolat”, then continue in the direction of Perpignan (just before the Spanish border). We needed to get a PCR test to cross the border into Spain, thanks Covid. I also have a business meeting this morning, so we have to stop in a quiet and preferably quiet place.

The mood today? It’s OK. We spoke yesterday about our aspirations and fears with Jim for the future. Are we going to like these kinds of lives? Are we going to like living in an apartment or a house later? Where would you like to settle down? So many questions to which we do not yet have the answers … I am looking for ways to have regular income, and allow myself to always be able to have a base of security.

I don’t often dream “big”, probably the way I was educated, with a lot of caution and difficulty in making decisions (this is also part of my personality, and being Libra as an astrological sign !)
But still, it feels great every now and then to dream big, to imagine all your wildest dreams come true, we have always been taught to stay firmly grounded in reality. However, without dreams, we do not go very far … Nothing carries us.


As Oscar Wilde would say, “You always have to aim for the moon, because even if you fail, you end up in the stars”.

Suddenly, my intention for the week is as follows: dream big, focus on what makes me alive, contemplate.

_

Hey Jones, it’s time to go to sleep. It was not an easy day with Jim, we drove to Prades, a small village at the gateway to the Pyrenees, a very nice spot with a small river to rock us. I did some yoga there and we met two men who were playing pétanque.

Tonight: ham and cheese crepes (yes, that doesn’t look too much like a May menu, but the weather doesn’t really lend itself to it).

Prades Village France

Day 3 – 11/05 – From the cotton swab to the breakdown.  

Hello Jones. We went to Prades for the PCR test this morning. The village was charming, the cotton swab a little less. We then set off on the mountainous roads of the Pyrenees in the early afternoon.
Then … It started to snow! In May, all is well (ironic). So we stopped at Mont Louis to eat because everything was closed, sadness. We finally met in the afternoon in Saillagousse, a small village not far from the Spanish border, and we stayed there …

Because Bill had a problem, the wheel bearing broke, and the left front wheel got stuck! We couldn’t move forward at all! Fortunately, and luckily, we were next to a mechanic (incredible), who was therefore able to order the new part for the next day and make the repairs. We were very lucky!

For the record, Jim had changed the drive shaft shortly before our departure because it was faulty. So we hoped that the problem was not related to this change.

So here we are spending the night of the third day in the parking lot of Terryl the mechanic! Nice decor and atmosphere for the full moon!

We still went to visit the village to clear our minds, and we were chased by a swan! Impressive when they want to protect their little ones, they are suddenly much less sympathetic. We took advantage of the last hours of sun that caressed our nose, sitting in the village square on a bench, like a couple of little old people, enjoying the present moment.

Village Saillagouse Pyrenees

PS: we took our first shower yesterday, oh joy! I realized that the shower was ultimately a special moment for your body, to connect with it. We don’t really have other occasions duting the day to do it. Embrace the importance of this ritual moment!

Jour 4 – 12/05 – Bienvenido ! 

Hello Jones,

The mechanic (terryl) has completed the repairs! Bill is ready to go! This young man was pretty amazing, we were lucky we ran into him. At 25, he has just started his garage and has really been a huge help. He also advised us on places to go in Spain, Las Negras in particular, in the south. As well as a small village where they shoot cowboy movies!

We are about to cross the border … The excitement is at its height! We sing and shout with joy once we pass the “Spain” sign! This is it, we are there! We hasten to go to a restaurant so that we can enjoy the simple joys of life: a beer and some tapas!

We are only smiling, and the beer goes to our heads quickly, we must look delighted in this restaurant where we are the only foreigners.

Spain border 1

We hit the road again in the afternoon, but the misadventures continue with Bill …
Although the mechanic has made the repairs, the wheel is still very hot! And that worries Jim a bit. Terryl had warned us that we also needed to change the hub and spindle that had been damaged in the wheel bearing episode.

So, we had to stop, in a small village not far from the border, called Organyà.
Emotions and feelings are mixing: frustration, nervousness, worry… Why is this happening now? Our opinions differ with Jim: he rather wants to find a mechanic in Spain and buy the missing part in a Spanish car junkyard; and I am in favor of going back to France, as long as we are still close to being able to make all these changes for the simple reason that: we do not speak Spanish! And even less for technical words like “hub”, or “spindle”, etc…

I believe now is the time to be strong, and patient, open to possibilities, and ask the universe to help us! Although it is very frustrating.

We are leaving on the option of staying in Spain.
We choose… The challenge and not the security.

There followed many calls to Spanish mechanics and car scrapyards, our speech prowls around as we go, we become better and better, except for the accent on Jim’s side, who has trouble with the Spanish “rrrr”!
Finally, I lend myself to the game, and I appreciate being able to practice Spanish again, even if we have technical vocabulary!
We will see, for now, no positive results.

Day 5 – 13/05 – The golden banana. 

Hallelujah! Jim has managed to find a website that lists the missing part we need! We can already order it, and send it to a mechanic that we found via WhatsApp! It seems that this is the preferred means of communication in Spain, everyone communicates there! Which makes the exchanges much smoother for us, because we don’t have to translate live! The mechanic is an hour’s drive away in Balaguer, which really isn’t far for Bill!

Paella in Spain

So to celebrate, we go to the village of Organya and eat in a small traditional restaurant.
On the menu for 13 euros: Paella, veal stew with mushrooms for me and pork ribs for Jim. The anecdote of the day: I ask the waitress for the desserts (“postres”), and I half understand the choices presented there, I suddenly hear the word “banana”, so I imagine it is a fruit salad, perfect to come and refresh a little all that eaten meat! I let the waitress know it’s ok for me.
As a result: I end up with a banana brought on a plate, along with its fork and knife! Magnificent! It gets us a lot of laughs with Jim.

Banana dessert Spain

The rest of the day ends with a yoga session, cleaning, and reading.
For the evening, we make ourselves sweet potatoes with the oven specially fitted out for a van! It’s extra, honestly, I would not have survived without the oven to be able to continue cooking small pies, quiches, etc …

Day 6 : 14/05 – The rock melon Brexit. 

Day of departure. We decide to go in the direction of Balaguer, where we must receive the part at the garage. We have plenty of time since the part will only arrive next Tuesday.

Before leaving Organya, an English couple from Wales arrived, and we had a chat with them. They sold their house so that they could live in their camper van full time and travel across Europe! Their camper van was huge. They were very nice and told us their concerns about Brexit and their frustrations, because it forces them to do a lot of administrative procedures, for those who do not live in England in particular. It was their case, they had been living in France in Brittany for 20 years. What a stupid thing this Brexit …

We stop at Ponts, to do some shopping, and find a spot for Friday night, next to the river, below the town’s dam.
Melon and mozzarella for tonight: so simple, but so good!
We also test our solar shower, it was a bit cold outside, but it was so nice to shower, naked, in nature! Ahah, a real feeling of freedom!

We are ready to live new adventures …

See you soon for the rest! 🥰

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Elodie
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