It ‘s the same every year. Each end of august supermarkets throw away chocolate Easter bunnies and start selling chocolate Santa clauses. In November the streets in my home town fill with stressed people carrying shopping bags, it’s impossible to escape all the “white Christmas” and “jingle bells” sounds, etcetera etcetera. Every year in December I try to find people who are not floating with the masses, to hang out with or go travel a bit, but most of them say: “yeah, I can understand what you find annoying, but it’s family time and I enjoy it”.. uff. It’s not that easy.
Every year I choose a place and go away. It’s pretty easy to escape the bad weather, I just hitch south, whereas it’s not that easy to find people who don’t buy gifts and a tree and tell you “I’m sorry but the next week I will be with my family” or, worse “but how can you dislike Christmas, I really pity you”, or worse.. well, you can imagine.
This year I went to Spain, where I had some friends. I found that in Spain most people are even more catholic and more family oriented, everyone had these Jesus pictures hanging from their windows, but in the end I can say that I managed to escape Christmas quite successfully.
It was worth the – I don’t know – 2500 kilometres and 3 days on the highways and nights spends outside, all the rain and cold and annoying gas station radios playing all night.
Somewhere in France one of my drivers, Omar, invited me for coffee to finish the good conversation we had in his car. When he introduced himself, he said: “I’m not a terrorist”, I wonder why people have to say this last sentence, I hear it very often when hitchhiking, almost every time someone introduces himself as muslim. (and this was before the Charlie Hebdo thing).
When I crossed the border to Spain in La Jonquera the sun came out and the temperature rose. Sitting on the terrace of a gas station near Tarragona in the morning, waiting for cars to arrive, I wanted to stay the whole day there in the sun, reading. Especially in winter the sun is everything, it changed my mood instantly to serenity and happiness. I felt so much energy to write and read and think and make plans.
After a short visit at my friends’ place in Valencia (drinking mate and recycling churros and pizza), I went directly to the southern cost, Andalucía. From Valencia it was 600 km. The explanation on hitchwiki to get to the gas station Torrent/Picassent is very useful, and it’s a good spot. I was very lucky and got a direct ride AND I could fill my backpack with 10 kilos of mandarines and oranges which grow there on the way, even if you only collect from the ground it’s millions and millions. It was the first time I saw so many oranges, sunshine packed in small orange balls. 🙂
The direct ride was a older guy in a British car, also on his way to escape Christmas and cold. He was a singer with his own rolling-stock, Country, blues, folk, soul -show. He told me he was making a lot of money with his show and that he loved his job. At first I was super excited to go all the way in just one comfy car and even found a crazy person singing in full volume for me.
First I was happy singing along with him to Buddy Holly while driving along the coast. The music was turned so loud, that all conversation took place shouting, and this for hours, my ears hurt, but the driver was advanced age and probably didn’t hear that well any more. He was a great storyteller, the stories of his successful show business life were really entertaining, (except his story about how two German female Hitchhikers had once stolen his passport) he was really not an ordinary person. Soon he turned out to be a racist. The hate talking on Muslims started out of nothing and I wished I had had the courage to tell him to stop and let me out, but as it was getting dark, I wanted to arrive. I tried to distract him and talk about different things, I also tried to convince him about his stupidity with arguments, but it was a lost case, then I was just quiet or kept on trying to change the topic. He talked himself in such a rage that he forgot breathing and went all red and shouted, about the war between Christianity and Islam about to break out.. and the terrorism and so on. It got worse and worse. Six hours in a car, plus three coffee breaks on the way is a lot of time to spend with one person!
Around 8 in the evening we finally arrived and I met my friends, the next days I was living with them in an old van. The petit camión was big and old, borrowed by a friend of a friend who was away for some weeks. One of the best things about travelling is the nice feeling of arriving at a friends house, nothing compares to being expected with more people and the dinner waiting and a glass of wine.
We had a nice time there in the mountains, close to the coast, near Salobreña, with everything one could ask for: hospitality, music, books and a very communicative cat. I put up my hammock between two almond trees, in the distant you could see the sun reflecting on the sea. During the day it was warm, around 17 degrees, only the night reminded us that it was actually end of December.
And at night the stars! And all the shooting stars! I already know that stars are amazing in the mountains, but every time it is a stunning as if it was a surprise.
We went with the petit camión to Málaga for some days, where I found it really touristy and not so special, but I could do some decent tapas and beer- table diving more than once and every morning watch the sun rise over the sea, where we parked at the beach and I stumbled out of the van as soon as I woke up was beautiful. We started to walk barefoot, even if it was very cold, but the sensation to feel something else than sweaty socks is worth it. Christmas people I hope you are all jealous!
I continued travelling alone, one day I got invited to a restaurant at the beach (hospitality by people I didn’t even know some hours ago and with whom except from a few words I did not have any language in common). There were some weird things I had never seen before- Jesus, Mary and Joseph figures arranges in old in boats that have been filled with sand, barbecue made on old boats, octopus grilled on sticks.
Later I returned to the place and people I was before, sleeping in the van, eating abundant food of all kinds, beer, wine, chocolate, smoke, music what more could I ask for Christmas? Also there I woke up every morning before sunrise when the mountains turn violet and red, watched the fireball, behind the mountain, slowly, later quickly rising, turning yellow. Hearing distant sounds of a cock, and birds singing, I had the feeling that I dreamed something important, a dream which I immediately forgot.
It was a nice trip, nevertheless I think next year I go to a Muslim country to escape Christmas.