Country-hopping

Wow, it’s been ages since I last updated the blog with the latest tales from our travels.  In explanation of my absence, I’m plumping for that brilliant yogi excuse – living in the present moment! What I mean by this is that I’ve so very much enjoyed being switched off from the internet, with its endless procrastination fodder, that I’ve been reluctant to plug back in and put fingers to the keyboard.  It’s been a really good reminder for me that time spent outdoors in nature serves my soul way more than being indoors tapping away. Although I love writing and continue to journal my thoughts in my diary each day as the mood takes me, writing the blog often means I miss a gorgeous sunset or spend an antisocial hour or so, when I could be chatting with Chris or other travellers we meet or simply watching the world go by and appreciating all that it offers at that moment in time.

Plus, although I think social media and the internet are incredible boons to the evolution of humanity, the way we use it is more often than not self-destructive – for example, after a mindless trawl through facebook, I usually feel like my energy has been sucked out of me, I feel disempowered and regretful that I can’t reclaim that time, and I usually have to fight back irrational feelings of inferiority, such is our human tendency to compare ourselves with others and find ourselves lacking. Somehow, it’s easy to forget in the imaginary world of social media that we are all inherently just as amazing as each other, because we are all unique – no one is better at being you than you!

However, the lure of the ‘ink’ can’t keep me away for too long, so I shall attempt here to fill you in on a whistle-stop tour of our movements since my last post.  After having finally found some sunny weather in Mediterranean southern France I unfortunately literally put a dampener on things by booking a flight from Paris to Turkey, meaning we had to begin a meandering trek back north.  We decided to hop from national park to national park, discovering some secret tucked away gems of France on the way such as the gorgeous pine forests of Livredois-Forez, where we saw wild boar in the woods (closely followed by the hunt unfortunately… :() and the serene lakes of Morvan, where thick bluebell carpets heralded in spring, followed by a week of hail, snow and ice?! We’ve had completely crazy weather on this trip, with flip flops flying off and being replaced by slippers and woolly hats then back to boardies and bikini again, in quick succession – absolutely bonkers.

We then spent an idyllic week living like forest pixies in the boulder-strewn sylvian wonderland that is Fontainebleu, an extensive area of magical, cuckoo-resonant woodland south of Paris. The forest is a mecca for boulderers, thanks to the strangely shaped sandstone rocks that scatter the forest floor.  However, the daytime magic takes on a slightly sinister hue by night, where it becomes a mecca for a whole different crew – think doggers, cottagers, eastern European prostitutes, international crime networks and all things vice.  Definitely a forest of two halves!

On our first night there, blissfully unaware of the Fontainebleu night-shift’s agenda, we were casually bemused by all the cars coming and going in the car park where we were camped up. They seemed to circle us, then drive off again fast, often returning multiple times before leaving for good. Gradually, icky realisation dawned and we hotfooted it to the safety of a campsite! We later heard that prostitutes now often operate out of campervans in order to bypass new legislation that prohibits soliciting at the side of the road and everything suddenly made horrible sense.  The prostitute’s ‘open for business’ sign is a red curtain in the front of the van and a candle at night. Seeing as we have pinky-red flowers in our windscreen and more than one candle in the van, we had unwittingly created a moths to the flame scenario, oops!

Anyway, we escaped Fontainebleu intact, and I managed to catch my flight to Turkey no problems and spent a lovely week teaching a yoga retreat there with a brilliant, fun group, whilst Chris remained in the seedy suburbs of Paris, giving Moksha a really good mechanical going-over. He assures me he enjoyed himself, but I can’t help thinking I got the better half of the deal here… 😉 The three of us are now happily reunited – I have to say it was a brilliant welcome back, hearing the unmistakeable chug of Moksha’s engine before I saw her incongruous bulk entering the pick-up area of Charles de Gaulle airport, where she somewhat dominated the layby!

The day I returned, fate intervened and helped us decide our next stage of the trip.  A year or so ago one of my sisters let me know about a brilliant-sounding new yoga/eco community project in the Portuguese mountains (was called Rainbow City, now called We Are Merkaba), and we had been in touch with them a few times since to investigate the possibility of going there to help out, but hadn’t heard from them for a while.  Anyway, the day I returned the owner replied to our latest message and invited us down there – it was clearly meant to be!

So, as I write this we’ve very recently arrived in this beautiful corner of the world, having spent the last week driving through France and Spain at the leisurely pace of an elderly Mercedes. This place is pretty special, with an amazingly inspiring bunch of residents and guests and already we’ve learnt so much.  But, for now the present moment calls me, so I will post with tales from Portugal when I next feel inclined to plug back in… 😉

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