Saturday night, two weeks ago, I got up at 2 a.m. in Utrecht and at 2:30 sharp I got the text ‘I’m here’.
My friend and fellow (bicycle) traveller Human had offered to give me a ride to the airport for my early flight to Spain.
To our surprise and delight we managed to pack my bicycle, the bikebox, my panniers and ourselves in the dark into his little car within just 15 minutes. Great not having to travel to the airport by train with all my gear, but to have the company and help from a friend instead!
At Schiphol airport we packed my bicycle in the box and everything went really smooth. I even got to skip the long queue for check-in getting pointed to the desk for ‘people with disabilities’, because of the big bikebox. Usually travelling with a bike makes everything more complicated, but now I was given priority.
In Girona Christine picked me up, she’s one of the captains of the Heraclitus that I met at the Travelers Festival in Dubai. My bikebox fitted in the back of the van and we were off. My departure and arrival whilst flying with my bike had never been this smooth!
In the past two weeks I’ve helped (re)building Research Vessel Heraclitus. The previous Heraclitus sailed around the world for forty years, after a group of actors had build it in the USA. They wanted to see for themselves how natures works and decided to build a boat and research the coral reefs, o.a.
This same group build the Biosphere 2, between 1987 and 1991. A huge glass building of 3 acres in which they constructed a rainforest, ocean, savannah, wet lands and a desert. All this airtight closed off from the outside world. Eight of them locked themselves in this building for two years to research and proof how and that people could survive in nature without any interference, oxygen, water or food, from the outside world.
http://biosphere2.org you can read more about it.
I think you will understand that I find this a very interesting project!
About 25 and 30 years after the Heraclitus was build, Christine and Claus got on board and they are the driving force now in rebuilding the ship.
Together with them and five others I live in a beautiful big house in the authentic Calanonian village Arynes d’Emporda. The village exists of about 25 houses of which only a few are inhabited year round. When I arrived here I felt at home right away. To see the swallows fly to their nests on the beams above the terrace. Two weeks ago they were building their nests and now I can see they feeding their little ones as they almost put their full heads down their little beaks.
From the house to the shipyard and back we drive through a wide and hilly landscape, farmland, little villages and a view of the Pyreneees in the distance.
The Heraclitures lays in a shipyard in Roses. The ship is 83 feet long and at this moments still just a frame covered by metal mesh. To check and, if need to, tightening the fixation of the mesh is mainly my task. As soon as all the mesh is fixated tight and the openings for the portholes and hatches are finished, the ship will be cemented.
They’ve been here for five years now and it’s expected to take another two years before the Heraclitus will sail out to sea.
Hopefully, this time, for the next hundred years.
Right next to the shipyard there’s a beach where we can go for a swim during lunchbreak. Everyday one of us cooks lunch and three nights a week we have a group dinner, at those we discuss a theme, we toast or we listen to speeches.
The weekends are ‘free’. Last Saturday I spend a wonderful afternoon at the beach and on Sunday I visited Salvador Dali’s museum in Figueres.
It’s wonderful to be in a calm place again! In Holland a house or a neighbourhood can be relatively ‘calm’, but the world surrounding it still races in my experience. And maybe therefor the world within me too. Here I just hear the birds and across the screen of my laptop I look out over a few roofs and the forests and fields beyond. Now that is calm.
Sadly my sleep still isn’t all it should be, but with a little bit of chemical help I sometimes manage to cross that sill to get to sleep and I get some good rest. Have I got a lot of sleeping to catch up on! I can’t keep up with the pace of all the work and activities here and have to take some extra rest now and then, but still I’m incredibly happy to be ‘on track‘ again!
The mountains are calling me.
My bicycle is ready to go! Also he looks much more in place here then in a shed in Holland.
I’m getting more and more excited and also more confident to start riding again. Though, I can’t deny that I’m also nervous. How will my body and psyche take it?
The mountains are calling me, though I know how hard it is to cycle exactly there.
Short days it will be. As long as I can pedal again.
I’m contemplating starting next Monday. Visit a few beautiful places here in Catalonia and then head towards the French side of the Pyrenees. I might just run into the Tramontana with it gusts of 93m/h. It’s a forceful wind that blows seasonal from the north west through southern France and Catalonia.
I can feel that the burn-out slowed me down and brought me calm.
Maybe not as much as would be good for me, but some at least.
And I’ve learned to listen to my body, to what it tells me it needs. Now I just have to practice responding to it.
If all goes as hoped, and I know now more then ever that you can never know for sure if it will, as I write my next blog I’ll be on my bike heading for the mountains!