Every day it’s as if it’s a race against time to find somewhere beautiful or at least safe before the sun goes down. I always seem to opt for safe. To my detriment. Today’s safety has afforded me the luxury of a pitch in a caravan club full of elderly British couples and the sought after aroma of hot shit. And not in a good way. Actual shit, that’s been in the heat too long. Oh, and the weird maingy cats you almost always seem to find on holiday. And we all know how I love them.
Day 2 of the 2nd stint travelling alone. Both nights I’ve taken the cowardly approach and booked into a campsite. The first night was alarmingly plastic and clean. I had 2 showers! There was a swimming pool handily laced with astro-turf. There was also not 1, but 4 washing machines and at least 100 different catalogued sinks. Which is a relief. If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I imagine someone is.
Somewhere between Bandol and wherever it is I’m going, I happen upon a deserted campsite in the middle of nowhere and think: this is it. This is the safe, almost wilderness I’m looking for. Reception doesn’t open until 4pm and its 3.10. I wait because its worth it, I tell myself. Until 3.15pm. And then my poor attention span gets the better of me and I’m driving again. I’ll find something better, I think. Or am I running from fear of the unknown again? The quiet. The abandoned wilderness of the campsite with 1 car. This is truly pathetic.
I arrive somewhere new. Except it isn’t.
This is the 3rd of the 3 places I’ve been today that I have managed to revisit accidentally. What luck. Turns out I saw all Le Lavandou had to offer the 1st time (which, in case you’re interested was a pretty 100 metre rocky coastal path and strictly nothing else. I’m currently walking down it for the 3rd time. I thought I’d add some risk and intrigue to the journey by looking mainly at my phone while writing this, and not the small strip of path, to see if I can make it a bit more exciting by falling in the sea. Surprisingly to no avail.). Good job then that I’ve booked myself in for the night before I realised.
It’s quite windy here, I’ve noticed. Well, I hadn’t noticed, but then was forced to when my shoes blew away. Not comparable, however, to the sort of winds Tarifa has to offer. Where you’re lucky if you don’t leave with whiplash from the sheer force of the sand thrashing about your person.
The town should be beautiful, and I expect it was before the tourists arrived. Most of the town is cut haphazardly out of the hillside and surrounded by breathtaking cliffs. You approach along a beautiful coastal road with views of the brilliantly clear turquoise sea and further, towards two islands (I think) that lay on the horizon. I wonder why I didn’t persist to find my bit of wilderness up there.
There are moments out here where I feel so, so liberated. Like I’ve just woken up to myself and can’t quite believe this is my life. That I’m actually doing it. I’m in my van, that I gutted and then rebuilt myself; travelling to nowhere in particular, to try to rebuild myself.
When the landscapes are stunning and I’m driving slow in the slow lane (angering multitudes of French drivers… and not caring even a little bit) just to take it all in. Those are the moments. When my music is blaring, my windows are open and I’m singing at the top of my voice. Or I’m riding my little bike down the backstreets, wind in my hair, sun on my back. Those are the moments. Or I’m sitting on an abandoned beach in the evening, waves lapping at the shore, sand literally sparkling like glitter and I’m writing poems, writing lyrics, writing… Those are the moments. Those are the absolute clichéd moments, but they are SO good. So good.
This is it. And I’m doing it.
Then I get bored. Bored of my own company. Bored of finding company on my phone. Bored of seeing the same city 100 kilometres from the last; different name, same shit. Or the same tacky shops, in a different town on the same coast. And then I think I’m doing this all wrong. Sticking religiously to the guidebook, even though I don’t want to go on someone else’s journey, I want to make my own. Sticking to the guidebook because I don’t know where else to look, who to ask. Because I have planned nothing. Not even tomorrow.
I’m endlessly chasing safety before the sun sets. Maybe I’ll wake up and find something real tomorrow…