We drove Holly down to Madrid a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I had left Galicia/Portugal in two years. We were dropping her off to her new owner.
We were selling her because we found this blue Smurf of a camper van online and were looking to upgrade.
Although a few years older, this one sleeps four comfortably, has a fixed bed, rotating seats, automatic transmission, and a solar panel. But most importantly, we can stand up in this one.
The house project has all but stalled, but this fall we’ve got other priorities: preparing the Molly to head south for the winter, new work responsibilities, and taking a breather from an intense summer at the finca.
There’s a vegetarian restaurant in our town. We don’t eat out very often and not at all during the pandemic, for obvious reasons. It re-opened a week or so ago and we decided to get a few pizzas as a small reward for completing our dietary detox. I took the van down the street to pick them up and saw an acquaintance at the bar.
While talking to her for a few minutes waiting for my order, the inside of the restaurant began to gradually filling up. Soon, it was almost completely packed. No one was wearing a mask besides me and the workers. Right before I left, the acquaintance saw a couple she knew and introduced me to them. I felt awkward but resolute in not giving dos besos.
After leaving the restaurant, I realized how unready I am to “go back to normal”, to forget any semblance of social distancing or precautionary measures. My quarantine circle has expanded from just our household to one other couple with two children, and another friend. We know they all take it seriously. But this is as big as our circle gets, probably for quite a while.
Luckily, having a van, preferring the outdoors, and not eating out frequently allows to go on vacation without needing to think three steps ahead to prevent contact or crowds, other than the occasional market.
Patricia put together a great video of video clips from our Latin America trip and a couple days ago did the same with everything we’ve filmed from 2019. It features building the inside of our van with a family friend, a three-week trip through Andalusia, moving to Germany, moving to Galicia, a tuktuk ride in Porto, and the last few months of the year here. iMovie crashed a repeatedly while trying to export on her small MacBook Air. We were finally able to get it into a movie format by importing it into iTunes first. It was nice to reminisce, even though we felt like the whole year we were a bit lost as to what we needed or wanted to do. The photo is one of our first mornings on the way to Andalusia.
This year, a global pandemic and approaching financial crisis aside, I feel much more steady about our family’s priorities. We’re ensconced in Galicia and while we still want to hop in the van for a road trip soon, we both want to return and make a home here.
Tuesdays and Wednesdays are our weekends now. I took off both days for classes the last few weeks and it’s been super relaxing to have two days without thinking of teaching instead of my usual one. Patricia is also stepping away from her business those days to enjoy the early spring with me. We were able to get a few bureaucratic errands and house cleaning done one day, and had a nice walk halfway to Penamá.
After a pretty cold night in the van in A Rúa next to its dam, we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site of Las Médulas in Castilla y León for a few hikes. This was an old Roman gold-mining town now famous for the beauty of the fracked mountain tops.
The Romans used a technique to fill the worthless first layer of the rock with water using aqueducts and tunnels to ‘wreck the mountain’, revealing the gold deposits underneath.