Ahh, I’m finally in my happy place, and finally there’s a happy place in me.
Sure, in my eleven days and 1,433 miles there’s been plenty of joy. The peace and sunsets of Arcachon (not to mention the camping fail) made that a very memorable time. But it was quickly followed by rain in Biarritz, rain in San Sebastian, a small but devastating hurricane (ok 40mph winds that broke 2 of my fibreglass awning poles) just before Bilbao, rain and endless searching for new poles in Bilbao, rain and eventual pole-success in Pamplona.
Then, two hours out of Pamplona something rather magical began. The rain stopped (in itself a win) and the landscape changed. After endless short stretches of dual carriage way, small towns, and roundabout upon junction (the no-toll way of driving) I found myself on the plains of Aragon.
Panoramic views that can only be described at spaghetti-western-esque; arid mountains with strange, flat peaks rose out of a dry, pink ground. White rocks piled high to create inexplicacable lunar bluffs. Something in this new world emboldened me and I delighted in overtaking huge trucks with just enough time (plenty actually, but let me have my moment) to duck back in before the oncoming car got too close for comfort. It felt like this was my manor, my patch, I felt at home.
Even stopping for fuel was filmic. No sooner had I got the petrol cap off than appeared by my side a late forty-something woman who, had this been a movie would have been played by a hybrid of J-Lo and Julia Roberts. Long touselled hair whipped about her face as she took the pump from my hand, rapid Spanish falling from her perfect mouth. I let her pump my fuel, I couldn’t refuse her. Then, as quickly as she appeared, she jammed a one euro coin in the handle so it continued to pump, and left me to assist a lip-licking lorry driver.
My tank full Beyonce suddenly appeared, meaner and leaner than woman number one, she practically prodded me into the cabin to pay and shooed me back out again like I was messing up some kind of perfect soft porn shot. I kid you not, it was a life highlight, I LOVED those fuel pumping warrior women!
Back on the road I was buzzing for this new land, always sunny and run by amazons. As I got nearer to the campsite I hoped would have a space for me (I’ve enjoyed not booking and winging it more than I ever thought possible), the road narrowed so if a car passed in the opposite direction there was a real danger of clipping wing mirrors. No one slowed down, not even me. Around me sprung 21st century orchards of wind turbines and solar trees, their branches programmed to follow the sun in a simple imitation of nature.
And then I arrived, the campsite silent but for the wind in the plane trees, the sea of Aragon (it’s not a real sea, rather some kind of damn/reservoir arrangement) an incredible blue and just feet from where I pitched up.
I slept for eleven hours last night. The rain, the broken awning, the terror of my own vulnerability in the face of nature (it was a hurricane I tell you) forgotten. This morning I got up and ran. I ran into the vast plains of Aragon with just love, wonder and excitement in my heart and I knew my journey had finally begun.