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Making the first step » The Spanish Caravan

Making the first step

Despite the name given to the van – I wonder if someone recognizes where it comes from..! – everything has started after my last vacation in Morocco.

It was late 2015, during Christmas’ time. A quick hit and run along the coast with a friend rediscovering, after many years, the beauty of its wonderful land made of rocks, sand, colors and its ocean where some of the longest and most beautiful Atlantic waves break. Morocco has been seducing me every time I had the chance of traveling there. That thanks also to its very welcoming people and the ancient traditional culture; they both have a special power to reconnect yourself to a primitive and respectful way of living, something almost completely lost in our countries. I’m referring in particular to the Amazigh people, an ancient nomad population who has been living those area for thousands of years, way before any other cultures or religions that has conquered North Africa in the history. Indigenous people regularly moving, until few decades ago, from the inner lands and the mountains to the coast or through the desert.

Then once back from that short trip, new thoughts and feelings instinctively showed up and a new project was starting to creep into my mind. The idea was basically to take a break from the city life, by allowing myself “time” to do something I’ve always dreamed about; for a “surf lover” (at that time my passion for surfing was something real but due to my skills I couldn’t properly been considered a “surfer”) that was a dreamy yet “classic” surftrip. An endless summer all along the Atlantic coast from the still warm September and October of the middle/south Europe to the average 20 degrees of the Moroccan “winter”. And all of that during one of the best period for surfing those places. 

But nothing is standard as long as you totally put yourself into your experience and let it go naturally. And since any traveller needs to set his goal high to find his own inspiration – and start dreaming before the travel itself as well..! – in a few months I decided to leave the place where i lived for almost 7 years, take a break from my job (at the beginning it was supposed to last only 4 months) and leave by myself. No hurry, a few “rules” but, above all, with my new special “friend”… the Spanish caravan! An ’89 Volkswagen Vanagon T3 full of the essential that quickly became my rolling home.

To be honest those months waiting and planning my trip before actually leaving were really really intense; the gap between thinking and actually doing something, everybody knows, is not as easy and comfortable as we might have thought at the beginning and it might scare you. I was about to leave a lot of things I had hardly obtained in the years, as well as many people and friends I used to share my everyday’ life with. And all of that when my life was somehow starting to be as comfortable and stable as many people may dream: a regular job in a big and “healthy” engineering society, a nice home in one of my favorite neighborhood in the city and a girlfriend who I was sharing my home and my life with. Furthermore life in van could be really challenging and uncomfortable if you are not used to, but for any comfort or just “stuff” I was missing there were so many and better ones I’ve been fully discovering and enjoying.. but maybe it’s too early to start talking about this! 

Then, I was saying, I spent months into dreaming, thinking and planning my project. Announcing to friends and family was the real first test I was facing up to; but it was also really helpful to train myself about the upcoming quite big change that was rolling into my daily life and push me focusing on what I did really wish to do. If I was playing poker (I don’t play poker by the way), I guess it could have been compared to the same feeling when you are about to play an “all in”; you know exactly what you have in your hand but cant’t predict anything at all about the rest.. 50% of good cards I was holding in my hands and 50% of (sane) madness were enough to push me forward.   

>> Somewhere in Basque Country – Photo credit: Leon Blacquiere

So what eventually came out from that period was a puzzle of moods, inspirations and ideas that, day after day, smoothly brought me into this new experience; in the end I had only to grab a few stuff, my surfboards, have an overall check of my van and leave, exactly how I think a travel should start.. straight from my home’s door and driving only through secondary roads. A slow road trip in van, no hurry and no motorway, mainly along the Atlantic coast, living off grid and chasing waves in 4 different countries with 4 different languages.

“…take me to Portugal, take me to Spain..”. 

I wouldn’t have any more excuse now not to go surfing and that was the other exalting part of my “vision” I was accomplishing as I’ve always wished. I only had to park close to the ocean and wait for the moment to jump into the water; no matter how skilled I would have become, where I would have parked my van, who I would have met or how many surfing or rainy days I could have found on my way. A few weeks before leaving I was sure it was the right choice for me and the first part of the trip – the mental one – was already started.

So I left any worries about the future and began to truly live the present. And every challenges I was still asked to deal with in those period was becoming part of a spontaneous path needed to achieve the first goal, the most important one in that moment.. START my journey! Everything else would have come afterward.

Somewhere in South Portugal <<

I still remember in those days a voice in my mind (or was it a song..?!) constantly telling me

“I know a treasure is waiting for me”.. 

“Yes I know you can…” it was saying.

Yes, Spanish Caravan.. now I can tell, you definitely did it!

That, in a few words, is how the Spanish Caravan Experience started.

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Berber Pictogram

Giacomo Brando

in 2016 a long journey has started: a full time experience on board of my van, living for more than 3 years along European and North African coast and rediscovering a slower and more essential lifestyle. 

Welcome to my world!