I have embraced the fact that I stopped cycling and am not missing it a whole lot. But sometimes there are these pangs of wanting to feel that excitement, the newness, the unknown, the full outside living, traversing vastness and fully soaked in to another culture.
I learned that this is impossible on a weeklong trip, or on a month long trip. Such feelings only come through on a minimum of a year. And the thing is, with loving a person, my husband, a new want has arisen. One which is not compatible with being without him so long. Logical! With the coming of a husband, naturally, the desire to be with him entered too.
The depths of traveling alone, the feelings challenges gives, the oneness with nature are now equally strong in combination with a person who loves and is loved, like floating frogs in a pond. I simply want to be with him now. But… I have to get out too.
Not a big fan of planning, can not even be called a minor enthusiastic when it comes to organizing a trip, I set off to Cuenca. Geo will follow a week later by Truck.
To get anywhere from where we live, along the Costa Blanca, it is dreary. It is along a mainroute, the only route besides a highway, that one can get away from the coastline of Spain.
Once I am able, I choose minor roads, which turns out to be popular choices for transport. I pass a string of villages where small parcels of ground are cultivated by remarkable old farmers. It seems none of the sons of these elderly farmers feels a desire to trot his footsteps. Photo’s below are from a trip around Aitana (Quatretondeta, Famorca, Benasau, Alcoleja).
I cycle through the small villages, often perched on a hill top, with old crumbling stone heaps and newer housing in tune with each other, a balancing act of architecture. The old spanish style I quite love yet cycling through is being a witness of seeing occupants who have outgrown their village.
Not one photo I make (photo’s above are from a cycling trip around Aitana), not one vista attracts my eye. Its agriculture. Not that it is not beautiful, I am just not willing to stop for something mildly interesting. What I want from cycling is beauty, be captivated and amazed, I want to be invited to photgraphs.
I am sandwiched between and under the highway and next to the old N III, where I hear sort of drunken, lower social-class, raw edged voices. ‘Now it happens! After all these safe years of cyling the world, I get raped in Spain!’ My heart is racing with fear. I have no where to go in my confined Big Agnes, and I grasp the notion that this very happening is even worse now I am married to Geo. ‘How selfish and ridiculous of me to have a little cycling trip, placing the tent on such a risky spot. How reckless of me.’ The two men must see the small ochre-colored tent I am in, sticking out like a sore thump in a bone dry natural surrounding. The men are coming here to drink, they are from the nearby town … They are up to no good. Where can I go?! They will zip open my tent, of course not bothering to not derail the frail Big Agnes zipper, and make fun of me. Stupid stupid me. I have strecthed my chances too far.’ They shine their flashlight against my tent, which scares me to death. Then I decided to gauge the situation and instead of being terrified, sort of welcome them friendly, in the hope they will leave me in peace. ‘Maybe they are out on the highway’, I opt ultra optimisticly. I open the frail zippers of the tent and it turns out they are indeed right above me. They are truck drivers with a broken truck, sending out SOS.
Relief washes over me. Because of the made-up approaching disaster and the undesired places where I sleep, I decide not to continue this marginal sort of adventure. Its not fun, its not beautiful and its simply ridiculous: I try to catch a glimpse of what once was. Something I can never have again, since ‘something’ else has come into its place.
My husband, a gem, sends me the time table of the train out of Buñol 2 kilometer from my camp spot. ‘You can have your chai and still catch the train to Cuenca’, a plan I would never had come up with!
I cycle to Buñol, buy a ticket with the help of a very helpful attendant, eat breakfast on the pavement and board a train, straight to Cuenca.
Another thing, to be dirty in South America feels more accepted than in Spain, where many people are obvious about apperance. People put great effort in looking impeccable and smelling synthetic.
And I, I cycled with the wrong mindset. All is ugly and nothing worth a photo. All is agricultural, nothing sparks me. There is no sense in cycling Spain on minor roads, sleeping under the highway and baking my own bread while every bigger village has a supermarket chain with German bread and Dutch cheese.
Once in Cuenca I find a camp spot in the beautiful surroundings near the National Parc, but leave it as if pinced by hundred mosquitoes when I see there are high fences surrounding me. Another camp spot suits me better and there I wait until my husband arrives.
Each evening I cook the same one-pot-meal. I find it so delicious that I want to share this mixture.
Ingredients: rice, asparagus, champignons, dried tomatoes, cashew nuts, chunks of Parmesan, bit of tomato sauce or a fresh one, herbs of your choice, salt and olive oil. Dry boil the rice together with the dried tomatoes and either start with frying all the ingredients -except the Parmesan- or fry them after the rice has boiled dry. Add the chunks of Parmesan at the end. Here are more easy recipies.
When I have outwaited the day Geo starts his journey to Cuenca, I start to move to our meeting point. Its a rainy day. Having pushed the bicycle down the hill, thick layers of mud sticks to both wheels. One of them having a flat.
Sigh… on this uninteresting, boring trip having to repair a flat tire, in the rain, on a sandy track, is all I wished for. With cold hands, mud sticking to the inner tube, big chuncks of sand gathering in the inner tire, making a nice sand-paperish effect between the inner tube and the inside of the tire, I cycle off. Wet and cold I wait 2 hours in a gasstation-shop until the Burgerking opens.
When my husband is about to start his trip, both batteries are empty. Being it a rainy Sunday my only hideout is Burgerking, where I sit and wait 7 hours with earplugs deeply inserted. Needless to say, its a torture. When it is clear Geo is not going to reach me at 23.00 PM, when Burgerking closes, I cycle off in the rain to a hotel. I dislike checking into a hotel, it feels as if my whole cycling-budget-programme was in vain.
I also dislike the fact that I am not enjoying these cycling outings anymore. I miss my husband so terribly much, I did not know I had it in me? I feel I am on a most useless ride. One where I try deliberatly try to create a drag.
When we finally meet we move into Parc National Serrania where we encounter rain, hail, snow and a forest police who tells us we can camp one night here, but not 4. It is actually not allowed at all, to camp stealtily. The police tells us that they are not really strict, we are allowed to stay a night extra, and can then move to another spot, and so on…
Spain has regulations (see website of the Spanish Biker) about wild camping: the bigger your surface of camp, the higher the fine. A little Big Agnes tent would thus be a low fine. A Roma camp with extended family would cost you more money.
We understand the importance of keeping people in a designated area. We both dislike to be in such an area, though we understand stealth camping with a truck is not very social.
We move a bit closer to Valledecabra. Through the rain, snow and hail. To a spot with more rain, more snow and more hail. Being inside a truck, however beautiful and spacious, starts to feel cramped. The finely tuned make up of a balanced mind and soul, finds an escape in the beautiful nature surrounding us. An unplanned escape route leads me to the top a the hill above us.
I am thrilled with an unexpected snow storm! Yet, after a few more of these, I am satisfied with cold, wetness and outside washes. Geo doesn’t mind the cold showers so much.
From the surroundings of Valledecabras we move to Uña. Unexpected and not forecasted we enjoy a partly sunny and full dry day and it’s my wish to climb to the ridge above us. The surroundings are magnificent!
I have been chewing on a hard bone, trying to keep the feelings and sensations of a lone female traveler cycling the world. I have felt torn between seeing the desert of Morocco in my minds eye, almost visible from where we live, to my current situation. Then I noticed that wanting to be somewhere else will not give me peace. The fact that being somewhere else, will still saddle me with the exact same wants and missings. I had this before, many times, even when I cyced the world I wanted to be somewhere else than where I actually was.
I made the decision to stay focussed on where I am, a luxury house in Spain. I want to stay put here, not shifting between house and truck, as this disrupts too much. It turned out the right decision. Until Geo and I embark on another adventure overseas again, or until we move out of the house due to our successfull renting out of it.
Peace, quietness and fulfillment can be very much connected to another person, and not only between yourself and the situation you are in.