You don’t speak the language and your much loved campervan is unhappy and slightly broken … a nightmare or just another day in a campervan travellers life? Putting my trust in people and a system I don’t understand has happened to me so often I am starting to expect it but never find it easy; this is way out of my comfort zone. People say, ‘Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.’ It seems to me this is where my adventurous spirit could shrivel and die, even when everything turns out fine in the end.
I am as guilty as anyone of writing about our campervan trips as carefree and relaxed but, as canny readers will know, this is only part of the truth. I always say I love the campervan life because we have the freedom to choose where we will be, if we don’t like somewhere we move on and we take our home with you, no strange beds, just a different view every morning. I am not lying when I tell you this and when things are going well it is truly an idyllic life.
But there are anxieties and I do share them on the blog. The Greek Tragedy shook my confidence massively and demonstrated so clearly how quickly a relaxed and enjoyable trip can abruptly end. My obsession with checking we are in gear when we are parked even on the flat has not gone away and can be irritating for Mr BOTRA. If I don’t check and double-check I am unsettled and return to the ‘van expecting it to have once again rolled in to a wall or worse.
You probably all know those signs of anxiety; I get that sense of dread, the sickness low in the bottom of my stomach, feeling on edge, irritable with the people I love and unable to concentrate. This is the worried me and no amount of deep breathing will quell the anxiety when I think a crisis is around the corner. But I do relax while we are away and it is while I am travelling in that carefree manner I enjoy that I am hit the hardest when something goes wrong. Picture the scene … The sun feels warm on my arms, I am smiling and unaware that a problem is on the horizon, then wham! From left field something we hadn’t even thought of happens to our campervan and everything changes.
With modern ‘vans it seems there are so many things that can go wrong, more than I could list or dream of. In September we had only driven 30 km from the port in Bilbao in Spain and our Blue Bus started beeping and flashing red lights in alarm. The power steering had failed! Who knew this could happen! Fortunately we were in a car park, rather than on an autovia and after Mr BOTRA wrestled the 3.5 tonnes of our van into a safe and shady place we rang our breakdown. Once again we were trying to deal with a complex technical problem on our campervan in a foreign language, with a phrase book that was written before power steering was invented! We had little idea what was going on and were totally in the hands of the garage. Déjà vu! This has happened now in Greece and in Italy as well as Spain, never in France or Germany where our grasp of the language is so much better!
Although we deal with the phone calls, the breakdown lorry driver, the rearranging of our plans, each of these incidents doesn’t make me grow in confidence, each one gradually chips away at my courage and my certainty of the freedom of the road. I can no longer fool myself that all will be well. For weeks after an incident the sense of dread about what will happen next invades my brain regularly. What will be the next problem to come along, slap me across the face and say, ‘You didn’t see that one coming did you?’
Given all this anxiety, the temptation might be to only travel in the UK but I’m not a quitter and certainly not quite ready to give up my passport just yet. The benefits of continuing on the edge of my comfort zone are visiting exciting and beautiful places. I work hard at keeping those dark worries in check by planning and preparing for [almost] everything and paying for the best insurance money can buy. Fingers crossed 2019 will bring some incident free trips!