I’ve had some really interesting reading lately – my old journal from the first time we did some extended travel with our campervan in 1996. Wow, how times flies and how quickly you forget! The struggles we had! And so much fun! Although we had traveled a lot before that, this was the first time we were campers, in our own campervan and totally inexperienced at this. But we learned a lot .
Like how inappropriate it can be to go over some of the highest parts of the Swiss Alps in the middle of the winter. We started off in a big snowfall (and in the Alps “big” can really be an understatement) and had to put on snow chains (I mean, wouldn’t that have been a sign enough not to go?). Snow chains make the driving very slow though and after a while the roads got better and we took them off. As we wanted to save time (for what? I can wonder) we put the campervan on a train that took us trough the mountain instead of driving around it for 4 hours. Sitting safely on the train was actually a very nice part of this trip, but soon, after having arrived at the end station on the other side it really wasn’t very pleasant anymore. We were now very high up in a place where there was only one choice to go to if you wanted to go further. The road down was very steep and winding and suddenly it also became totally icy. We didn’t have the snow chains on now and the road was so icy, it just wasn’t possible to stop and put them on either. This was one of my life’s most scary moments I assure you! High up on an icy steep winding Alpine road with the whole family in a campervan which couldn’t stop. “I got all shaky” I have written in the journal, and I think that went for the rest of the family as well. Even though the kids were very young at that time, they got the seriousness of it all. Finally, a patch without ice appeared and Magnus could stop the car. We stopped to gather our breaths for a while and thanked the higher forces that we all were alive. Then, with the snow chains safely on and with the speed of a snail, we continued out of this steep icy nightmare.
After having passed through the amazing St Gotthard tunnel, 16 km long, we later arrived in Lugano, in the Italian part of Switzerland. We visited some old friends there and they were kind enough to let us borrow an apartment they had in the middle of this beautiful city. From snowstorms and icy roads, we were now surrounded by palm trees! All in the same country and just hours away!
Our trip continued after a few days and we went to France, where we rented an apartment in the old town in Nice for a few weeks over Christmas and New Year. Then, after France, finally our big goal: Spain! We were so happy to have gotten this far, and first of all we really wanted to visit Barcelona, in the northern parts of the country. To start out, we planned to visit Barcelona’s famous street “La Rambla”. Still inexperienced as we were at travelling with a campervan, we had the somewhat naive idea of just driving into the city and park somewhere along the famous street.
I quote from the journal here: “What chaos! Narrow roads and lots of traffic. We got lost before Barcelona. We got lost inside Barcelona. We got lost after Barcelona. Boy have we seen many industrial areas today! Finally reaching La Rambla there was nothing else to do than trying to turn around and get out of the city. Not a parking lot in sight big enough for half the size of our car even, well not a parking lot in sight at all. We gave up and continued without having set one foot in Barcelona. Had “lunch” in the car while driving – at 5 o’clock- bananas and candy! Horrible!”
The rest of that day continued in the same spirit with narrow steep winding roads (we now realized what a mountainous country Spain really is, had never thought of that during our visits there by plane), quarrelling exhausted kids (and parents) and finding ourselves lost a couple of more times. Finally, after having been driving for a whole day, we arrived at the campsite which was our goal for the day. We had then done 70 km!
I quote myself again: “Today I really question if we should go on further south?”
We did go on though. After having taken a couple of days to recuperate ourselves after this first driving experience in Spain, we decided to follow through with our plan, to go to the very southern part, Marbella.
And it’s just so interesting to read this today. And to know, in retrospect, that the rest of this trip actually turned out to be one of the best times in my life, and the rest of the family says the same! After this first challenging part of our trip (I assure you, this wasn’t the only things that happened ) the remaining months of this journey was just like heaven. And I mean that!
So think about this: we were out doing some extended travel and had gotten so far, and we were relatively close to our goal, the South of Spain, and we were also on the verge of giving up. But we didn’t. We did stop for a while to just relax and let go of all the stress and frustration. We took a deeper look at what we really wanted and then recommitted to our goal and continued. Today, I can see this as such a great metaphor.
How often don’t we strive for our goals and on the way towards them are faced with one challenge after the other. At some point we are close to giving up – it’s just too much. We ask ourselves if it’s really worth it. And then, when we can’t take it anymore and are ready to surrender to the challenges , if we just let go for a while and detach, relax, get some new energy and recommit, we lay the grounds for amazing things to happen. If you think back on your own life, I’m sure you have your own memories of this phenomenon. And when you are in the situation of giving up on your dream, try to remember these situations, the times when you didn’t give up, and what that meant to the rest of your life!