The RV 2 cars in front of me went over a beam horizontal across our lane (about 5 feet long, 6" high and about 8" deep), then the car in front of me which was half the size of my Subaru. It immediately pulled
over. I went over it and hoped that my car was invincible.
I have never experienced a flat tire, or at least one that I remember. I had no idea what to expect. I
experienced some shuddering and then the pulling to the right told me that I did, indeed, have a flat. I pulled over. The Road Rescue fellow came quickly and he lead me to my tire dealer (America’s Tire is great). It turned out I had a small puncture which was easily fixable. However, the tire guy asked me, “Did you see the wheel?” Unfortunately, my wheel did not fare so well. It is bent. The tire guys did not have a replacement on hand, so I called my mechanic in Portland to see if they could do anything for me. This is a several-generation-owned business specializing in Subaru’s. The older fellow there said come by and we can do something. The “something” he did was loan me one of a set of 4 wheels and tires intended for his personal vehicle. In 15 minutes I was on my way to Seattle, no money exchange, just “we’ll take care of it next week”. Amazing.
Four hours later (my delay caused me to end up in heavy Friday afternoon traffic) I remembered that the two outfits that I had carefully pressed and bagged were still at my apartment in Portland. I guess I was traveling light!
It all could have been so much worse. I could have had a blow out. I could have had much more damage to my car. I could have been stranded and not able to go to Seattle. I could have left my overnight bag a home and had not even a toothbrush. It was all a test of my “zen”, testing my patience to roll with it
all. I will have many more challenges in the coming months and this one set the tone. It all turned out reasonably well and I had the grace of several wonderfully kind people (not to mention the protective angels!). This is a good way to start the adventure.
So, this is my itinerary for the next 5 months:
I pack up my apartment and car for storage and fly to Tampa on August 28th.
September 6-11 – Western Caribbean cruise from Tampa to Cozumel and the Grand Caymans. Tampa and Sarasota for the remainder of September.
October 3-5 – Monterey, California for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding.
October 11 – fly to Madrid
October 13 – train to Torrelavega, in Northern Spain, near Bilbao. I will be working with a Brazilian woman on English fluency for 10 days. I will get at least 1 hour a day in Spanish with a little Portuguese and French thrown in. The work is just 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, so I will have opportunities for excursions with and without my host.
October 23-31 – solo travel across Northern Spain, exploring San Sebastian (the pintxos!), the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Medieval towns , cave paintings, Santiago de Compostela and culminating in A Coruna, an ancient and major port at the NW corner of Spain. I will take the train back to Madrid, then the bullet train to Barcelona. I just want to experience the bullet train. This one ranges in speed from 160 to 230 kph.
November 1 – train to Tortosa, which is 2 hours south of Barcelona to be picked up by my second host for 5 weeks of olive picking and tree pruning. The hosts are a British ex-pat couple who have retired to Spain 10 years ago. Again, it is 5 hours of work a day, 5 days a week with plenty of time to explore. I am anticipating at least 2 weekends in Barcelona and one in Valencia. The farm is halfway in between the two cities. Josie, my host, said wild boar and wild goats roam the hills. I am looking forward to hiking in the hills, although I’m not particularly interested in encountering the wildlife…. I want to meet the neighbors for their hunting and other culinary skills… boar meat and sausage, cheeses, truffles? Josie was a chef in the UK. I think
we will get along well.
I have one additional week in Spain, near Alicante. I will be teaching immersion English with a program that
pairs one volunteer with one participant. This will be a week in a 4 star hotel. Not a bad way to finish my stay in Spain.
All of these hosts are part of workaway.info. For my time with each host, I will get full room and board, making my travel budget go much farther. With the exception of Alicante, the postings are home stays.
It will be an interesting and new experience!
At the end of the Alicante program (December 11), I will head to Amsterdam to visit my niece, Persephone. I will return to the US on the 15th with visits in NYC and DC before returning to Florida. Christmas in Arizona, back to Tampa to see if I want to really live there, and back to Portland to ship my things and pick up my car. I will drive back to Florida, taking my time along the way.
There are the basics. Stay tuned for the experiences…