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A Day in the Life of a Van-Dweller

Heading South

We woke up somewhere in the south of France, surrounded by cork trees in our own little secret spot. An array of wild herbs filled the air with beautiful scents. Scents that awoke my senses as I slowly drifted out of a peaceful sleep. Coupled with the smell of fresh coffee, I couldn't think of anything sweeter. Just us, our little home van, and the wilderness.

I dragged myself out of my warm comfy bed, rubbed my eyes and tried to wake myself up. I swung open the stiff, creaky sliding door. The fresh wild air that greeted me shook me out of my drowsy morning state. There’s something magical about the first time I open that door in the morning. Whether it’s the cold fresh air, the sweet smell of the surrounding flora, or the the chorus of wild animals and insects, I suddenly feel so alive.

After a quick stretch, it was time for our arduous morning routine. It’s the same as any other morning routine, really, except in a van, everything seems to take three times as long! The fresh coffee went on one ring of the hob, and the water for a wash on the other. We scrambled around in our boxes for something to wear and tried to find the cereal bowls, which usually results in one of us shouting something along the lines of, ‘where the heck is my other sock!?’ We took turns to find a little hidden spot where we could strip off and have a wash. We drank up our coffees and started to think about which direction to take our morning stroll.

There’s nothing like fresh coffee and nature.

We wandered slowly though the woods to stretch our sleepy legs. The sweet sound of chirping birds and the soft buzzing of locusts followed us as we meandered the windy path through the trees. We stopped for a moment to take in our surroundings. The light cool breeze, the shade of the trees, and the mountains looming up ahead of us.

After a rather lazy and slow morning we hit the road, heading south down the coast towards Perpignan. We were heading for the Mediterranean waters of northern Catalonia. We decided to take the coast road, to take in some of the scenery. We passed quaint, colourful villages and perfect turquoise waters, caught glimpses of the lives of the people who live there. The busy cafes and the little fishing villages, where the boats chime a song as they rock with the waves. I wish I could’ve stopped and explored every little village and swam in every little cove, but we’d have time for that when we got to our destination. We wound our way around the endless, snaking roads toward the Catalonian boarder, listening to our favourite records to keep our spirits high. We had the windows down to let the warm breeze flow over us.

I shuffled around for the passports as we drew nearer, expecting another typical boarder crossing. What we got to was far from that. It looked more like an abandoned hotel or theme park than a border control. The run down booths were plastered in colourful graffiti and the doors swung loudly in the breeze. There was not a soul about; the road was quiet and all else was silent. We drove past slowly, unsure of whether to stop or carry on. It was like catching a snippet of a post-apocalyptic world. I could just imagine creatures lurking and sneaking around as the light began to fade. The faint orange glow of a group of survivors, safely huddled around a fire, taking refuge in one on the disused booths, waiting out the cold night.

We weren't driving for long after when the road dropped away into a rough track. I. began to perk up. It felt like we were on an adventure again, as dust flew up behind us and the road rattled our bones. Our curiosity overpowered any doubt or fear and we drove on. The landscape started to morph into more dramatic shapes again. Caves began to appear in the sheer cliff faces, and the road grew narrower. As we turned the corner, the steep hills parted way and revealed a breathtaking view. Naturally we pulled up to take it in. The mountains surrounded a patchwork blanket of fields and villages, greeted on one side by the crystal clear Mediterranean Sea. A gentle breeze carried the salt air up to meet us as we stood on the green mountain, taking in the breathtaking scene. The lights in the small scattered villages started to twinkle as the light started to fade into dusk, revealing glimpses of the secrets within.

The View into the Valley

As the light grew scarce, we had to get a move on. Driving down a dirt track in the dark is not much easier than you can imagine, and we had to find a place to stay before dark. We got back in and carried on down the track as it twisted towards the sea. At the end of the dusty road, was a sweet little cove. We pulled up into the gravel car park, finding the flattest part we possibly could. The rest of the evening was spent watching the light fade on the peaceful water as it gently lapped the shore. As it drew in, it would bring with it shining treasures of shells and crystal glass, and then take them away just as quickly as it receded. We looked up at the stars as the last light faded, watching quietly for satellites. We could see a faint glimmer of light from across the bay. I wondered if it could be someone like us, parking up for the night under the starlit sky. If it was, I wondered who they were and what adventures they'd have to tell about. The night air was warm and dry. I could've sat there forever. However, as I grew drowsy, that comfy, cozy bed was calling my name.

I feel grateful for days like these. Days I can feel closer to my true self. Wild and free and one with the earth. I wouldn't want it any other way.

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A Day in the Life of a Van-Dweller
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