From 57 Hours to 1500 Miles…..
….and the ‘understated’ moments in-between.
Tuesday, May 15th- Tanzania…..HOMEWARD BOUND:
A mischievous smile crept over my face as we stepped off the plane in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Not a soul knew of our 57 hour journey back home…. and I was ready to implode with anticipation as it bubbled right up and over me. Ray and I had just finished the longest lay-over-tasic’ trek of our lives and it finally all came down to this moment. From Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam to Muscat to London to Chicago…… we skipped half way around the world dabbling in overnight airport visits and stretching ourselves across hard cold plastic chairs and rough woven airport carpets aching for a few winks of sleep to get ourselves through to the next leg.
And as I walked down the jet-way letting the first familiarity of home wash over me, I couldn’t help but to think how it had been just over a year since we had driven out of my mom and dad’s driveway in our 71 VW Van—nicknamed Diva because of her ‘temperamental nature.’ (What an understatement, really). She had taken us further then we could have ever imagined— not just in miles, but in extraordinary experiences. Because the journey was sometimes even more important then the destination—and the new acquaintances we met along the way were like our personal treasures. And did they ever sparkle bright.
But now, more then ever I craved the embrace of my family and friends and couldn’t wait to run into it- full on. It had been the longest I had ever been away from ‘home,’ and although technology has captured a way to bridge a small gap…. proper contact was irreplaceable. The stage was set and the curtains pulled as we knocked on my parents door that Thursday afternoon….. and although there were no dress rehearsals going into it, I think we pulled of quite a show:
‘Home’ meant more to me then I can ever describe. From the very first morning laying in my parents backyard making ‘snow angels’ in the crisp green grass……. to catching the warm Minnesota sun dance upon my friends faces as we took in the music at an all-day festival…… to snuggling with my mom and dad at a ball-game during a chilly evening with blankets wrapped tightly around us like mini-burritos…… to college girl reunions and new baby arrivals, and the celebrating of all the ‘missed holidays’ with my Grandma and Grandpa in-between. ….There was never a dull moment in the 37-day Wyatt-Wackaloo trip o’ fun…. (What an understatement, really.) ‘Our cup’ was filled and spilling over as the moments with all our most loved kept pouring over us…..
Coming home meant ‘reuniting’ with all that makes ‘US’ who we are when we are at our very ‘BEST.’ We are so fortunate to have the love, support and generosity of our friends and family— its you who inspire US to keep our dream alive.
And as we flew back to England after our ‘37 day’ home-ward stretch, I found myself gazing out the window…. wiping a few stray tears away, and never more prepared for what was in store for us next.
Tuesday, June 25th- Hastings, England….. DIVA LIVES:
That sound. That incredibly familiar sound….. it vibrates through your body all the way down to your toes. There is nothing that quite compares to the sound of a 71 VW engine roaring back to life.
We looked at each other with an overwhelming sense of relief—and perhaps a bit of ‘shock’ as the thunderous sounds of DIVA woke up from a deep deep slumber. (Okay, okay… perhaps a bit more like rattling sounds, but we will give her a more ‘triumphant return’ to life) She had been tucked in safe and sound in the front of Ray’s mums house for almost 6 months. Ray and I of course never meant to keep her there THAT long. But then, that’s when your journey far outweighs the destination. Sometimes Tanzania calls you to stay a month or two longer….. sometimes, a trip home becomes magically extended….. and before you know it, weeks turn into months, and that’s when you are left in the passenger seat of an ‘old friend’ on a crisp Tuesday morning squeezing your eyes together tightly and praying to the VW gods that she ‘cranks to life.’ And then, the magic begins all over again…. DIVA LIVES…. and you are instantly ignited for what possibilities lay out before you.
This time, our next adventure took us to a summer job opportunity near a small village in Andalucía Spain, called Hoopoe Yurts. Only 1,500 miles away…. The journey from about Minnesota to Florida, roughly. Our mission was to make it in 4 days as the job started on the 3rd of July. …..And at 55 ‘snail miles’ per hour–and avoiding ‘all tolls’ we were had a massive challenge in front of us. (What an understatement, really.) And at our calculations– that only left us with 3 solid days to be with Ray’s family, service Diva, get an MOT passed (British equivalent of a complete all-over maintenance test) pack her up tight and be on our ferry by 10am on Friday. Doesn’t sound too daunting, right? After all, it was the pace we had gotten ourselves accustomed to back in Minnesota to fit every last family, friend and event in. So, to mix it up a bit and give it a dash of drama….. lets just chuck in that list that DIVA also didn’t pass her MOT. Seems there was something called a ‘break compensator’ thingy’ that was leaking. It also seems that this so called ‘break compensator’ part doesn’t exist anymore. *insert me cackling in utter hysterics here* We found this out on Wednesday afternoon, and we had 24 hours to literally find a non-existent part AND re-pass the MOT to be on the Ferry over to France on Friday morning in order to make it to Spain by the 3rd of July. My heart palpitations of the extremities of last years nightmarish experiences of Diva stuck in mechanics garages leaving us pacing as our dreams held on stand-still came rushing back. Time was not on our side… And we dare thought of the time it could take to realistically to get this all wrapped up and on the road. Disaster loomed……..
And then…. as we were kindly being driven around that Thursday afternoon by Ray’s older brother Tony optimistically running our errands like we would still be leaving (but really watching the hours drift away in dread) we got a call from the garage that Thursday afternoon. They told us that they ‘rebuilt the non-existent part’ themselves. It passed. It was ready to be picked up. And just like that….. the VW gods were on again our side. It was another DIVA MIRACLE, folks. I still shake my head in wonder how this all worked out as I write this now….
So after a WELL-OILED tune up as financially punch-in-the-gut as always, (high maintenance IS her strong point) she was ready to rock and ‘rattle.’ However this time, she was equipped with a few new treasures for the road. Our first precious jewel was an urn given to us by Ray’s Dad that held a bit of Ray’s grandad’s ashes whom sadly passed away this past January. Undeniably one of the worlds most amazing forces…. it was his spirit that would be looking through Diva’s window right along with us now. There was no one other that I would be more honored to have along for the ride. The next razzle-dazzle addition will be introduced later…..
So with our safety triangle, fire extinguisher, yellow road safety jackets AND two breathalyzer kits in tow, we drove onward. Yes, tis’ all a part of the France Road Regulation Kit. Seems the government thought they could save some massive Euros if everyone paid for their OWN personal breathalyzer kits. Doesn’t say too much for the people of France traveling and living within it. However, I personally like the yellow road safety jacket… with the right pair of accessories, you can really rock it out on the road.
Top 5 Lessons learned on our 1,500 mile drive down to Spain:
- #1- The definition of a ‘Buchon’: Literally meaning ‘cork.’ Fitting, really. It’s the French word that is placed on road signs above the motor way telling you to “Get comfy, is going to be awhile.’ What on earth ever possessed us to drive straight through Paris? After we drove off the ferry, our entire Friday was spent bumper to bumper in this city. But on the bright side, every once in a while we caught a glimpse of the Eiffel tower. On the downside, this landmark became a huge sore spot of how far we ‘weren’t traveling.’
#2- French still keep to their ‘art of feasting’ even when on the road: In other words, don’t stop at a rest stop at lunch time—French time. It is a tornado of baguettes and bottles. This is their pleasure; not yours you out-of-country foreigner. So stay out of the way or you could just get trampled, and don’t expect them to put down the fromage or vino when they do…..
#3- How to get ICE: This has always been a massive struggle as we have spent some time in France over the past year. All we have asked for is a ‘few cubes’ to keep our ‘bag in the box’ cold in our cooler. But alas, we always just figured the French were too good for the small pleasure of the ‘ice cube.’ And here it was always the job of the ‘Fish Man’ in the back of the grocery store to supply you with ‘glacon.’ Silly us. Its so apparently clear, now.
#4- Don’t get in the way of the TV when here is a ‘Footy Match’ on in Spain. Or a 70 year old Spanish lady will yell at you. We were in Burgos for the European cup finals and the people were literally spilling out of the Bars like crumbs off of a Tapas plate. The vibe was sensational- I get goose bumps even thinking about it right now. From young to old they were reveling in every moment of the game…. however, I just had a problem of keeping my big ol’ noggin’ out of the way. Huh, shocking.
#5- A goal of 1500 miles in 4 days going 55 miles an hour is ‘a push.’ (But then, what an understatement, really.)
And on Tuesday, July 3rd with curiosity and excitement swirling around us as the olive groves welcomed us in and Diva puttered down the dirt road track….we made it to our ‘new destination.’ We looked at each other in awe. Or was it disbelief?
Because once again, the journey didn’t let us down.
Sunday, August 5th—‘The here and now,’ Hoopoe Yurts- Cortes de la Frontera: As I sit here at the table in front of the casita writing my last few sentences on this blog, I find myself quickly shaking that smug look of achievement off my face. Realizing its been over 3 months since my last entry and sadly, I have almost forgotten how invigorating it feels to write again. It was truly the motivating cheers and support of my friends and family that made me realize- ‘perhaps someone was following.’ So here I am, with perhaps a new twist on the blog as with the long hours that we are working here its quite impossible to create what I have in the past. So I am going to start doing weekly journal entries of some of the ‘best bits.’ The hiccups and hilarity of our daily life here in this little corner of the world.
Thank you for walking this road with me….. its quite an extraordinary view.