So for the last month or so I have been banging on about how great this caravan life of ours is. There’s been lessons learned and friendships made. We’ve visited incredible places and eaten some of the most amazing and authentic home cooked meals but right now things aren’t quite so peachy.
We weren’t able to book a campsite before leaving Rute’s place in Evora and we stupidly thought that it would be a great idea to just wing it. We had our iOverlander app and Park4night, we’d be fine to find a spot for our 8m long caravan, 3 kids and 2 cats….not quite!
We arrived at the beautiful Camping Granada ready to fork out €40 for an overnight stay and the promise of piping hot showers and excellent wifi. On arrival we were told, in no uncertain terms, that their campsite could not accommodate such a large vehicle and apparently it was signposted somewhere along the narrow, winding, dirt road we had just driven down. As if this wasn’t bad enough it was near impossible for Warren to turn around in such a tight spot, I was freaking out that the car or caravan might get damaged and the owners of the campsite (who seemed like really lovely people) were keeping watch from a distance. Luckily, Warren came through for us (as he always does), turned Carolina around and got us back on the road. Right now I’m sat in the car park of a Repsol garage alongside a busy motorway in Spain. It’s pitch black and I have 27% battery on the iPad. I’m on ‘duty’ while Warren attempts to sleep for an hour or two in the front seat of the car. Before retiring for his nap, he had to very carefully and strategically place the cats litter tray inside their cage so they could relieve themselves without one of them ending up as roadkill- whose idea was it to travel with cats anyway?
The kids are in the caravan, reading and trying to get some sleep but I highly doubt they will. Dinner was a choice of Estrelitos cereal or cheese and ketchup sandwiches and afterwards the boys kicked a football around in the car park for half an hour.
All this excitement aside, I’m actually quite content. I still keep checking my mirrors and turn around at the slightest sound but I’m good and so is my family. The people that are here in this service station car park with me are not the same people who left England two months ago. These guys are tougher, they are more resilient and they know that come morning all will be fine. Will we leave our next destination without having booked the next stop? Not a chance in hell! But I can tell you that we will take whatever comes our way in our stride and tomorrow we will head off to another project, offer assistance to another person who needs a little help and when we’re done we’ll leave even stronger.
Fast forward a few hours….
Well morning did come and after a night of little to no sleep we were bleary eyed, hungry and in need of a shower and a place to rest so off we headed to our next volunteer project 2hrs away in Vera, Spain.
On arrival in Vera it took a good half an hour to locate the Eco campsite and when we eventually found it, it was not at all what we expected. There were a couple of older caravans on a small plot of land, no sign of waste disposal or electric hook up of any sort and there wasn’t anyone there to greet us. We tried calling our host but her phone was turned off and at that point we made the decision to head to the Lidl car park and, as a family, decide what to do next.
We got to the car park, Warren turned off the ignition and we all burst out laughing…I’m not sure if we were laughing because we were over tired, or because we had slept on the side of the motorway, or because we had travelled 750km to a project where we didn’t feel comfortable staying or because we were sat in the car park of Lidl with our massive caravan and nowhere to go.
What I do know is that we prioritised really quickly. First we found the nearest campsite. A large site, almost at capacity and, bar the friendly man at reception, not a Spanish person in sight! It was quite a surreal experience being in a foreign country and being surrounded by Brits but in all honesty after the previous 2 days it was a welcome escape and we were able to set up the caravan, cook a meal and look for other Workaway projects nearby.
After messaging 3 potential Workaway hosts we received a message from Joel of Shepherds Rest (50mins away) inviting us to come and volunteer at his family’s wellness retreat. To make things even better the family had 4 children of similar age to ours and they offered to put us up in one of their rental apartments for the duration of our stay. So in the end everything worked out for the best.
*I must add that our host from the Eco campsite did eventually get hold of us and she was very disappointed that we decided to move on but as I explained to her if it had been myself and Warren we probably would have stayed but at this point in time it wasn’t the right place for the family. We do, however, wish her all the best of luck in her venture.