Bellende Hunde jede Stunde, von Sekunde zu Sekunde reist der Geist von wach zu schlaf. Zu wach: Ein lauter Krach, der Nachbar schließt laut seine Tür – ohne jegliches Gespür. Ich mach das Dach zu und lieg flach im schwülen Bus, jetzt fehlt frischer Luft-Zufluss: Fenster auf zum Kühlen. Schluss, jetzt wird tief geschlummert. Endlich leise, zeitweise. Vögel singen, paarweise, Ton-Gebilde in die Nacht. Milde Luft bringt feinen Duft von Regen rein, von wegen kein Wasser, es tropft und strömt, wir sind verwöhnt von einsamer Natur; pur, rund um die Uhr. Und in der Ferne helle Sterne, eine einzelne Laterne leuchtet mitten ins Gesicht, ihr Licht durchbricht die dunkle Nacht, unangebracht. Feine Glocken von drei Schafen, Wellen im entfernten Hafen – wir schlummern ein, so gut es geht, bevor der nächste Tag ansteht.
April 2022. We are leaving the eastern part of the Pyrenees behind us, driving South. After a day of climbing we are looking forward to taking a cold bath. We have chosen the lake ‘Llosa del Cavall’, one of the many reservoirs in Catalonia, as well as a parking space with the possibility to swim.
Of course, we have heard of forest fires in Spain. And droughts. And water shortage. Especially during the last hot summers. But the absence of water is simply not engrained in our minds. Yet. That’s why we didn’t even think about the possibility of an empty lake. Spain is currently in one of its worst droughts, endangering harvest and ecosystems alike. Most water is used for agriculture; but strangely, farmers are more concerned about possible water regulation laws than to irreversibly lose their most valuable resource as the land slowly degrades to a desert. This attitude might be coupled with their age, as it is expected that most farmers will go into retirement within the coming years, and there are no young people to replace them.
We are arrive at the reservoir – at least that’s what our navigation system says. Because the reality in front of our windscreen looks differently: No water in sight, just bare rocks. We check again if we entered everything correctly. We did, this must be the lake. But this lake is missing its very defining feature: Water.
We use water carelessly during daily life, as though it is an unlimited resource; because for most of our lives it indeed has been rather unlimited. During our ongoing trip this has changed. Water is not only scarce in Spain, but also in our camper van. While a single flushing of our toilet back home would have used 10 liters of water, we now live on around 8-10 liters a day, including everything. Of course this changes on an instant when visiting a campsite and taking a shower, but it puts things into perspective. When I read ‘The End of the Ocean’ by Maja Lunde a few years back, I didn’t particularly like it. But this seemingly dystopian story probably hit the nail on the head in describing one potential future scenario on the shortage of water in Europe. When consulting the latest IPCC report, the question is not if a future without water scarcity will come, but if we can adapt in time to cope with it adequately. But taking into account societies will to adapt to other problems of climate change, the answer seems regrettably evident.
After closer investigation we see some water after all. It’s deep below, inaccessible, and not suitable to bath in; but it’s there. At least for now, until everything will be dry in a few summers from now.
A timid giant rides the wind,
ill-famed and often framed
as ravenous, yet kind inside,
a gust of wind below his wings,
a king of kings,
untamed and wild.
Do you remember the first time you heard your favorite album? The first time you fell in love with someone special? Or the last time you were fully enchanted by the inimitable beauty of nature? I, for the first time, saw one of the largest birds in Europe – the griffon vulture. And ever since, I can’t get enough.
I thought I am good in farewells, maybe even experienced; after all, I was close to having my last farewell more than once. But apparently I am not. There is the saying that you only learn to appreciate something when it’s gone. I already appreciated our friendship while it lasted. And they say ‚distance does not separate’, but it does. And so, here we are, you will stay and I will go. The distance will separate us, and we will continue on our own paths. You made me feel at home, you made me feel happy, and you made me feel safe. Thank you.
Missed opportunities amidst routines,
thoughts caught by obtrusive screens –
for laziness we stride for now,
hide from duties, disallow
old habits to creep in, begin
a time with generosity,
a life without velocity.
One last normal week. Calendars are packed with appointments, preliminary goodbyes with friends pass by, and the farewell consolidates. The two of us are now alone, to experience exertion and delight. On one of our first nights, an older German gentleman leaves us with a simple piece of advice: “Seid lieb zueinander.” – “Be kind to one another.”
A recollection of some unconnected events (which may cross the line between fact and fiction).
We are hungry. Regrettably, this won’t change for today. „Why?“, you might ask; well, I’ll tell you.
Two weeks before our departure a package is delivered to our soon to be ex-home. Finally. It is a much needed cooking pot for our gas stove. In fact, it’s my brother‘s gas stove which I am borrowing since 10 years. Anyway, the pot is urgently needed because the old one has lost its coating and any food burns immediately. The new pot is not only very shiny and posh, but it also has a new lid that allows to pour off water easily. „Neat.“, we think and carry on with packing our stuff.
The fourth evening in our newly attained vanlife settles in. „Vanlife“ — there are not many words I find more repelling, except maybe „growth mindset“ or „analytical adaptability“. (Yes, I might have been looking at too many job postings recently, and yes, I also think that „analytical adaptability“ is an entirely fictitious term.) We are rather creative on this particular evening and are planning to cook noodles. Luckily we have the new pot ready to go and, as planned, it heats the water quickly, nothing burns at the bottom, everything goes smoothly. Almost. Until I use the new lid. Just for a split second I am a little careless. I ever so slightly stop to push against the weight of the noodles. But it’s already too late; all our food merges with the filthy ground below. „Neat.“, I think, and we starve for the evening.
Two weeks later, we have finally become accustomed to living in a car. It’s too cold in the mornings, too hot during midday, too tight to spread out, but too large so that there is always stuff to clean. Put simply, it’s beautiful. And we got used to using the lid of our shiny pot and utilized it to enjoy a great variety of meals. But today, it’s noodles day again. Rice noodles to be more specific, because my significant other is looking forward to them since we started our little trip. And she is also really hungry. A joyful anticipation for rice noodles — what could go wrong?
This time the lid just gives in; I don’t even notice any change in pressure I applied. One second, all noodles are in the pot. The next second, all noodles are on the ground. „Neat.“, I think, and write an unemotional review for a shiny cooking pot.
Bouldern? Witzig! Abwaschen? Nix. Im Schlafsack frieren? Nix. Zum fünften Mal dieselbe Kiste aus dem Kofferraum holen weil man jedes Mal eine Zutat vergisst? Nix! Kurvige Straßen entlang düsen? Witzig. Aprikosensaft? Witzig? Katalonier auf Englisch ansprechen? Nix! Von Waldkäuzen wachgehalten werden? Witzig. Von Hunden wachgehalten werden? Nix. Zusammen weiterhin ins Ungewisse fahren? Witzig!
As a kid I had a whole collection of matchbox cars. My favorite one was a blue police cruiser which had blinking lights — simply wonderful. I sometimes still miss it. Together with my brother, I could play for hours and hours. They were like a large playground for us, offering endless possibilities. Among other things, we developed an intricate car racing simulation; we might even find our old notes in some hidden folder. And within this world of cars, my younger me also found meaning. At least for a while.
I guess at some point everyone who writes, writes about writing. There are endless lyrics on writing lyrics, or poems about their own creation (link). It seems an evident topic. After all, the process of creation is what characterizes any practiced craft. When I started this blog I thought I would get around this topic; but apparently I am not. Back at home when time was sparse, writing often felt easy. Accepting something with its imperfections was fine. But now, as there is seemingly endless time and no obligations, no word seems to fit in its place, no sentence bears a clever idea, and no text seems satisfactory. Simultaneously, the same happens with my photographic journey: infinite opportunities, but no direction. No purpose. No meaning.
And so, for now, I keep exploring the large playground that I’ve found in these creative crafts.