The Pyrenees, life in the caravan, and our Mission.

Over two weeks have passed since the last post, so it’s time for an update!

First of all, we are immensely enjoying where we are right now. We loved staying in Ultramort, Beceite, and Valencia… but this is something else.

We are staying at campsite El Berguedà, a 10-minute drive from the town of Guardiola de Berguedà or a 1-hour walk to a village called Vallcebre. What, you haven’t heard of these places? We hadn’t either until we got here, but the area and the people have already stolen our hearts. We love it here!

A selfie of Alba, Juna, and me on one of our first hikes in this area.
One of our first hikes in this area, facing south (not many mountains in this view).

What we are up to

Okay, so first let’s get the practical stuff out of the way. We have been here now for just over two weeks, and haven’t been sitting still.

I (Jochem) continue applying for remote work and while I have some promising opportunities, it might also still take some months before I find something good. In the meantime, I did some freelance work and I am doing online courses in (web) development and social media use; always useful (and fun!) to know. Alba continues to be dedicated to her own job and is also looking for some new (learning) opportunities.

Finally, of course, we are advancing with our Mission Paradise. I’ll take some more time to elaborate on that, which brings me to the main topic of this blog post:

Plou i fa sol

Our Catalan readers will know what this means, but I’ll explain for all our other “fans” 🙂

Literally, this means “it rains and the sun is shining” in Catalan. It’s also a well-known children’s book here, but that’s not why I decided to make it the post title.

Quite literally, it’s been raining much more here than in the other areas we’ve stayed in so far. About once every other day, I would guess. And that’s not a bad thing at all! It’s only now that I notice that I missed the rain a little. It makes all flora bright green; it makes the skies dramatically beautiful; it gets quite cozy in a caravan while it’s raining outside; and it makes us appreciate the sunny moments more!

At the same time, we do fortunately have plenty of sun. We haven’t had a day without at least a bit of sun yet, and most days are very sunny with only rain in the late afternoons or evenings. So, there’s plenty of sun to remind us that we are not in the Netherlands! 🙂

On top of the Pedraforca: beautiful, eerie, some sun, some clouds... And a good analogy!
On top of the Pedraforca: beautiful, eerie, some sun, some clouds… And a good analogy to this post!

Dark clouds

But of course, this is not the only reason why we have some dark clouds overhead.

We’re having some tough moments every now and then. Sometimes we wonder what the heck we got ourselves into.

Living in this caravan is fun and cozy, but we also miss some things.

We got used to things like emptying the chemical toilet and refilling the (small) water tank every day. That stuff’s the easy part. It’s like brushing your teeth: a routine that you don’t have to think much about once you get used to it (if you don’t get this: time to check your hygiene standards!).

No, I’m talking about some of the stuff that slowly creeps up on you, like the need for some privacy sometimes or routines or hobbies that you used to have that are not possible now. For example, I never thought I’d miss gardening a little bit. Now that it’s April, I’d usually be planting some seeds and looking forward to spending time outside just doing (semi-)mindless gardening work… But it’ll have to wait until we have our new home.

Likewise, sudden things can also pop up. The car has been giving us trouble again, this time when we arrived at our current campsite. It just doesn’t have the power to drag the caravan (even slightly) uphill on a gravel road: eventually, we needed help from some very friendly strangers to push the caravan; we wouldn’t have made it alone. This kind of stuff is frustrating as it makes us hesitant to move to new places more often; so far we haven’t had any trip over two hours with the caravan where we didn’t have some kind of problem.

And let’s not mention the massive ant infestation that we had last week…

Sun and rain; I took this picture just before posting this and it proves my point even more :-)
Sun and rain; I took this picture just before posting this and it proves my point about ‘plou i fa sol’ even more 🙂

Mission Paradise

I wish I could say things only looked bright for our Mission, but that’s not true either. It’s not easy to start something here, especially with the (very) limited budget that we have. We have been making progress with our plan though, and this is the thought process that we’ve had:

  1. Buying a terrain in Spain/Catalonia and building a house/houses on that is an extremely long and tedious process. Not to mention that it’s costly as well. Just the paperwork to do this costs more than €10.000 and will take easily over a year. And no guarantees!
  2. A better option for us, then, would be to buy a house with some terrain. That way, we (obviously) don’t need building permits and (since we’ll have a house to live in already) we can patiently wait for whatever permits we do need. However, this makes our venture quite a bit more costly of course. Not out of reach, but we’re looking at financing options.
  3. We would thus end up with something like a bed-and-breakfast…
  4. … which we would then slowly (over five to ten years) convert to what we have in mind: a sustainable, rural tourism business that aims to do things differently

So, while the goal hasn’t changed, the road is constantly changing. And getting noticeably longer, as well.

Fortunately, we are only a few months into this adventure and thus still have a lot of fresh energy.

And that’s where the sun is shining!

We’re meeting amazing people left and right, everyone happy to give us advice and show us opportunities. Telling new friends about our ideas and getting useful input and interesting contacts is super energising. It’s one thing to think of all this in theory far away in the Netherlands; it’s another thing to be here and actively work on achieving our dreams. It’s not easy, but it certainly gives a sense of purpose that we didn’t have back ‘home’.

Likewise, we have plan A, B, C, D, … and that list continues for a while. There are still so many options to explore that we don’t feel even slightly defeated or deflated by these ‘expected-unexpected’ challenges.

At the same time, I’m learning so much right now. I’m learning to write some (basic) code. I’m learning about social media and videography. I’m learning about entrepreneurship in practice in Spain. And I’m learning to be super happy and live in the moment again!

See! There is some sun between the clouds! And I have another excuse to show what I mean when I say this area is amazingly beautiful! :-)
See! There is some sun between the clouds! And I have another excuse to show what I mean when I say this area is amazingly beautiful! 🙂

The coming weeks we’re staying where we are, at least until the 19th of May. After that, we might move on to another place or extend our stay here. At the moment, we are quite centrally located to visit other places in the (pre-) Pyrenees, we love the campsite and the area, and we might be able to do some work here locally as well. So we’ll see.

Whatever happens, I’ll make sure to keep you up to date!


… oh, and of course: more pics!

Rock with Gósol written on it
Gosol! Well, somewhere behind that hill, anyways. For those that don’t remember: it’s where Alba’s grandfather grew up as I mentioned in our last post!
Jochem walking up Pedraforca
On our way to the summit of the Pedraforca mountain
Alba and Juna on top of the Pedraforca mountain
On top of Pedraforca!
Pedraforca framed by flowering trees
View of the Pedraforca 1
Pedraforca at sunrise
View of Pedraforca 2 – sorry, I cannot help posting so many pictures of this mountain: it’s really, really beautiful!
Juna in front of a view of the valley
Juna enjoying one of our many walks around here.
Three donkeys looking into the camera
Greetings from these cute Catalan donkeyssee you in the next blog post! 🙂