Gum trees and red dirt. Huge cloudless blue sky turning to pink in the west. Cotton fields and recently turned earth and the smell of dry grass and dew. It could have been outback New South Wales, but it was Andalucia in southern Spain. Driving through the dusk into dark with the windows down, the world outside felt so familiar but was actually new and unknown.
The back doors of the van open onto an Atlantic beach and unfamiliar constellations, but everyone knows the drill now so it’s really just home in a different place. A gentle breeze was blowing.
A coffee stop at Conil de la Frontera, popular surf spot but no waves today. It really was going to be just a stop for coffee but the beach car park was free, the beach long and clean and the bougainvillea cascading over white-wash was too much to resist. We called it home for a few nights. The breeze was still blowing, a little harder now.
A trip to a beach further along the coast gave us a view that caused great excitement – Africa! The hills of Morocco just across the water. ‘We could go there’. My journeymate smiled at me with a glint in his eye which said, ‘yes we could,’ and I knew there was a conversation to be had.
Early on in our trip, Matt bought and read aloud a book, ‘The Alchemist’, in which a boy goes searching for treasure and ends up finding wisdom on his very long solo journey. He lives as a shepherd in the hills of Andalucia in southern Spain, he stands at the waters’ edge and can see Africa, smell it on the Levanter, the wind that blows from Morocco, and has to go there.
Maybe we too were brushed by the Levanter. Was that the breeze that drew us southwards? Whatever it was, we decided to go where that wind was blowing from and we’re now in Morocco. We’re not seeking treasure (not in the form of gold anyway, although it wouldn’t be unwelcome!) and we don’t expect to return wise, but we have left the comfort and ease of travelling in Europe for the complete unknown of another continent and culture – again. Shaking things up a bit.
The luxury of having the freedom to change plans so easily is not lost on us, but it’s a freedom that, like many, we haven’t had since before we had a family and may not have again in the same way for a long time, so it’s a freedom of which we want to take full advantage. We’re not going to India in December, we’re in Morocco for five weeks, driving the van over the Atlas Mountains, waking with the call to prayer and working out all there is to work out when you don’t know the rules.
The sheets and towels are all washed, bedding aired, van cleared out, cleaned and now free of our stowaway, Harold the mouse. Extraneous crap has either been disposed of or sent home. We’ve RSVPed again to Matts cousin’s wedding in Ireland at the end of December (thanks Laura and Ben!) and have promised to take the girls to India another time. Right now though, we’re going where the wind takes us.