Blogs headlights, Exploring Europe 2016
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A Greek summer

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Well, there we have it… it’s a postcard-perfect summer with beaches to bask on. Greece and its daily 30° temperatures are mercifully filled with wind that keeps us from suffocating. We’re a long way from July’s hats and anoraks in Norway. Here less clothing is required; we live in our swimsuits. Less clothing = fewer trips to the laundromat = less mess! The van feels like it’s bigger because we have an extra room: the outdoors. How nice it is to take out our table and chairs, to put up a line for drying towels. The world is our living room and we love it.

© Bertrand ring

© Bertrand Lanneau

Travelling Perspective. During this road trip, we are obviously driving. A lot. In the first four months of this trip, so far 134 days, there have only been 4 days when we didn’t drive. Whether it’s a half-hour drive or a 6 hour one, we drive every day. We’re getting used to long distances. We drink in the landscape around us, carried along by our playlist. We chat, sing, discuss our upcoming itinerary or replay what we’ve just experienced. When the GPS—a technology that’s much more useful than we imagined—says the trip is 2.5 hours, that doesn’t seem so long any more… it’s right next door! When you’re driving every day and your record is 13 hours straight on the road (Thanks, Norway…) distances of a few hours are no longer scary. This perspective will be helpful when we get back home. A weekend in Haute-Savoie when we’re currently in Bordeaux? No problem, we’re on our way! These intense days of driving are shrinking distances and bringing us closer to people.

© Bertrand ring

© Bertrand Lanneau

Summer’s End. Time flies on these happy days when we’ve been travelling so long in our tricked-out van. The month of September has arrived, people carrying briefcases have started showing up around us, and on social media we read posts from our loved ones who are retreating back to the office. True, it’s “la rentrée”, an important milestone in the yearly rhythm. And for us, it doesn’t mean much. Our daily rhythm isn’t rocked by these waves. We’re holding steady to our course: driving, visiting, writing, photographing, enjoying, living. Our own “return” is marked by a new border as we pass from Bulgaria into Greece. From Eastern Europe to Mediterranean Europe. The Aegean Sea’s turquoise water welcomes us with open arms. In the evening, we set up next to the sea, our computers on the table… the best office in the world! I think about everyone who is going back to work or school right now. Our “end-of-summer” is filled with sunshine and our offices are under the open sky. A rentrée like this every year? Sign us up right away!

© Bertrand ring

© Bertrand Lanneau

In 10 days, we will loop back to France to attend Fred and Mel’s wedding, as promised when we left on our trip. This means it’s been more than 4 months since we left Nantes. Hard to believe. It’s as if we’ve stepped into a time warp. Since we feel like we’re outside time, it seems as if no time has passed for our loved ones. Their lives were frozen on 4 May and everything will go back to normal when we return, right? And yet, the wedding is definitely taking place on 24 September. So, time has also passed for them. They enjoyed the beautiful days of May, then June… the music festival, two months of summer, the back-to-school/work season… and now they’re charging into fall. Absent from their daily lives, it seems legitimate if not also a bit egotistical, that nothing important would have happened for them during our European adventure. And still, a baby was born and others are on their way, an engagement was announced, homes were built, and so many other new things happened: projects, jobs, moves, gatherings… Their lives have continued on without waiting for us… When it’s time for us to return, we’ll have to dive fully into their lives, which have been filled with 6 months worth of new experiences. We’ll have to face up to reality and come back from our interlude of freedom. We hope that these 6 months of adventures will have adequately prepared us so that our return will go well. We’re not thinking about it too much… we still have a month and a half of our trip left to experience and we’ll live it to the fullest.

© Bertrand ring

© Bertrand Lanneau

We found a promising cove at the tip of the Pelion Peninsula. From high up on our rocky perch, we saw a rocky beach bordered by olive trees overlooking turquoise water. We didn’t need any more encouragement to head down! But once we got to the beach, we found it was piled with rubbish. We couldn’t sit on this beach without doing something. In less than an hour, we filled 5 big bags and it wasn’t even a tenth of what surrounded us. Bottles, lighters, a TV, light bulbs, flip flops, cups, and all kinds of plastic. Some of the items were so damaged by time, wind, and water that they disintegrated in our hands. Impossible to pick up the pieces. Our anger subsided and in its place, we felt incomprehension, sadness. Why are human so destructive, so irresponsible, so disrespectful? Why can’t we understand that the waste we create pollutes us as it pollutes the environment? Plastic microparticles are everywhere now… in the air, in the water… They’re swallowed by the animals we eat and incorporated into the plants, fruits, and vegetables that we consume. We’re polluting our beaches and poisoning ourselves… This cove on the world’s end could have been a paradise. But it has become a landfill. It depressed us but it also strengthened our resolve: we’ll continue our daily life choices, eating healthy, organic and local, and tending towards “zero waste” by no longer using plastic. “Think about it: people would just have to stop buying something for it to stop being sold.” – Coluche. Common sense we need to get back to…

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© Bertrand ring

© Bertrand Lanneau

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