After staying put in one spot for about a month, we have now been back in our van for a week. It’s about time for an update. We are still south of Valencia, so taking our sweet time to drive back north. Why heading for cold weather sooner than absolutely necessary?
Leaving the apartment in Vera on the late side, and of course in a rain storm, we did not try to get very far. Just after the next town down the coast, we set up camp on the rocky cliffs next to some other campers. There was not much of an evening since it was late as we were getting in, but the kids were instantly engaged with sand toys and jump rope. Next morning we were surprised by a fresh baker stopping by to sell bread and pastries from her little truck. What a way to start the second part of our van adventure.
After doing groceries in Águilas, we wanted to head to Mazarrón, and maybe to the local hot springs. We kind of knew we needed diesel, but it only became very apparent when the fuel light went on and no pump station was in sight. This went on for so many kilometers, and the road we chose to Mazarrón was so deserted, that eventually we decided to suck it up and head back to Águilas to fill our tank. As a matter of fact, just to be on the safe side we ended up cruising back to town, down the mountain in neutral. It felt a little like we were driving a 1993 Mercedes 100 Electric van. Back on track, we were just a tad bit more relaxed.
Mazarrón can be reached via a toll road, which we avoid whenever possible. The less travelled road leads through a beautiful little mountain range. Green, with orchards and flowers all over. The only thing you hear outside are bees and birds. Could it be more restful? We did not head into town, but back inland a bit where we knew there were some hot springs. Nothing fancy, but very nice and not commercial. On one side of a little river there is a huge golf course, while on the opposite side hippies are camping and hanging out in pools of hot water. We made a fragrant camp fire of dead rosemary bushes and enjoyed dinner under the stars. Next morning, everything seemed somewhat less idyllic when spilled hot coffee caused a mommy meltdown (yes, it was the entire pot of fresh espresso). Luckily it went mostly into the sink and while it dripped onto the dirt outside Zoe yelled that we were leaking oil. At that moment coffee seemed worse, now not so much. We mustered the energy to head to the springs and indeed, hot water is a delight, whether in a clean tub or a muddy pool. We all smelled like sulphur for days afterwards, and the kids started sporting natural dread locks.
Another short drive after Mazarrón, because we now know that arriving in a camp spot late is like torturing mom and dad. We picked a spot somewhat secluded, but in an area with several vans and rv’s. Looking at the rocks and little ponds, it seemed like a fun area for the kids. But when they explored the beach just next to the rocks, entirely consisting of grey sand, it turned out to be the best sand to build castles with. So while I cooked our meal, Antoine and the kids started on a majestic castle, intended for elves and other little creatures to live in, play in little pools and dance after their dinners. The next morning, the sea had gotten as far as the castle but everything was still standing. Ponds were added and ditches with bridges across. The Mediterranean was shallow here, calm and super clear. It was such a nice place for even Metta to head out to get water in her little bucket. I thought that the children would have a hard time leaving their creation behind, but they seem to be used to, and okay with the routine of moving on to the next beautiful place.
And beautiful it was. Looking for a perfect spot near the lighthouse on Cape de St. Antoni, I noticed a much quieter parking lot in the middle of a little forest. It was right next to a house, but the people living there did not mind if we stayed for the night. “No pasa nada”.
Over the past few days I had been wondering what I was missing, why I was not getting to the feeling of peace and quiet within myself. I blamed it on the hard work of camping with little ones, on the fact that our diet was not unhealthy in general but certainly not great for me and I figured it was the lack of yoga, exercise and me-time. But when we opened our van doors this particular morning, surrounded by trees, whistling birds as well as the sunrise view over the water, I realized that we had not been surrounded by forest in quite a while. Forest nearby, and with trees all over, is the environment I grew up in. When I am in a different place, even in Colorado, I really have to work to find that stillness. I have to seek out what it is that makes everything fall into place. And Vanlife with three kids in itself does not do that. If anything, it messes me up. So to be in a place where I could feel that I could breath, relax and gain energy, was a treat and maybe even a revelation.
Right at our camp spot was the beginning of a 5 kilometer hike. The children did great and we enjoyed the view over Xàbia from traditional Don Quichotte type wind mills. We were just going to do this little hike and head out. As a matter of fact, we were completely packed, kids buckled into their seats and all. But we decided to change the plan and stay for one more night. More elf houses were built in the forest, and trees were climbed to fill them with bird nests made of pine needles and sticks. Never a bad idea to carry food and water for an extra day.
By now we had boondocked for 5 nights, and were in desperate need for a chore day. So we headed to the grocery store and on to a camp ground, which was cheap in every way. The sky was blue and the sun was beating, so we set to wash all of our laundry. It was drying quickly, but soon enough storm clouds started to drift over our heads and we moved the laundry under our camper awning. It was the first time we had pulled out this accessory, and it is awesome. Soon we were all huddled up in the BerryBus, counting between lightning and thunder but not getting very far. The already pathetic campground around us turned into a mud pit.
Vanlife with three kids in an MB100 definitely has its challenges, mostly when it rains, but we are starting to find our way. Some days it requires some amount of wine and chocolate to get through rush hour (dinner, pj’s, musical everything inside the van to change it from living to sleeping space, while doing dishes and brushing teeth), but we are headed for balance between hardship and true bliss. Now we can only hope for reasonable weather as we need to drive north. I doubt that spring can keep up with us at the same speed.