After the summer break from the pandemic and relief measures, the curve gets fatter again with the 2nd wave hitting hard most of Europe. Governments are closing people into their houses once more. As this happened, we decided to run on the roads through "green areas", to reach the sunny side of Portugal, day-by-day surfing away from the lockdowns.
France - Spain - Portugal, 10 January 2021On the 24th of November, we are all waiting for what french Prime Minister Macron had planned to stop the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
After leaving the summer free with no controls, no restrictions, no curfews, we are suddenly hit by the heavy climate built by the rising numbers of the infected and the deceased by coronavirus.
At 8:40pm, the word we were all hoping not to hear ever again in our lives, was instead pronounced: "Confinement" aka Lockdown.
In 4 days we were all going to be stuck again in our homes, in our case, a van.
To make things bitter, all outdoors and sports activities that can help you stay healthy in the mind and in the body, are not allowed.
Surfing... the activity that naturally social-distances you from everything and everyone, is apparently on the black-book of expert epidemiologists.
I am now surrounded by conspiracy theorists, skeptics, deniers, all representing their upset feelings in a way or another.
I am not one of them, I do believe the virus is real and dangerous, I do believe that the measures taken are in no way a solution, but I also believe that another lockdown is not good for my mental health.
I am no expert and even though I know the authorities have betrayed us many times, I must still have to rely on them for a little while.
But I won't let them lock me in confinement again.
I meet Marco, Alex and Martina in Hossegor, right after a huge session in La Nord. I did not catch a wave because I am not confident enough with the new Dusty WIts board I got, but is always a great thrill to feel the energy of those giants, and I love watching the action from up close.
It is a Saturday, and the beach is crowded with people taking advantage of the sunny day to do what humans do best: socialize, play, run, have fun.
Marco and Alex are a sweet french couple. They wake up early in the morning, do yoga together, kiss goodbye, go to their respective works and love each other very much. But after all they are nice people also. We argue and disagree on the COVID stuff, but we get along and we love to share our food cultures.
Martina is a very special girl. She travels in a sardine can van with her dog Zoe. She is strong, passionate, independent, and becomes violent when she is drunk.
None of us wants to get trapped again by the lockdown.
So we take off, westward bound.
We drive through the night, cross the border and enter into the Spanish side of the Basque Country.
We will not stay long around this area since all the main cities are locked already, nobody can get in nor out. We can still reach a few spots on the coast. And the surfing is sweet!
The whole Atlantic coast of Spain is a beauty. Vast green lands, golden sunrises, blue-green water delivering amazing sets.
We drive and surf like a holy routine every day. For two weeks we dribble the closed zones across Cantabria, Asturia, and Galiçia, all the way to Portugal.
Picos de Europa is a tempting deviation that hijacked our route from the coast, straight into the mountains.
A different landscape is what we needed, and we have it all for ourselves since no one else is up here.
We stay enough to sleep the night next to the Teleferico de Fuente Dé, shielded by the high peaks that cut the border between Catabria and Castilla y Leon. In the morning Marco and Alex decide to anticipate the swell and go back on the coast, while Martina and I go up for a hike without the dogs.
The winds are strong and the weather is changing fast, so we must be quick and to our great disappointment, we cannot reach Cabaña Veronica.
As it gets stormy we walk to our vans and dive back on our seats to meet the french again.
Driving around Galiçia is so never boring, landscapes like Norwegian Fiords, endless green fields like the Irish countryside and golden beaches.
We arrive at Praia do Razo for the night, and we can already hear that the swell has made its job. In the dark, the thunder of big barreling waves is electrifying the air.
We wake up in a dusty parking spot away from the main road, right in front of the beach. Lines and walls is all we can see. The tide is still too high.
So breakfast first and when
We love this place we don't want to leave, but Spain is tightening things up and banning to move from region to region. We treat ourselves a pulpo gallego for a last meal before heading down to Portugal.
I respect locals, I always have, but I never understood the bitterness of Portuguese locals. They always look as if they have to make a point, be aggressive, enforce respect. Is it to cover their shortcomings as surfers and human beings? I don't know, but sure it reveals a weakness rather than a strength.
But who cares. We enjoy the waves regardless of the people yelling for priority as they are still paddling out from the last wave they just surfed.
Nazarè welcomes us with amazing barrels, not the big crumbling XXL giants, but small and powerful tubes.
We stay in Portugal for a couple of months, make new friends, enjoy the good times, and let the vans rest a little.
If you are traveling in a van and you happen to stay in Baleal, you will sure to meet my friend Dane AKA Bundu and Bison, the king of the parking and of the hat industry.
Especially if you are a lady.
This South African beasts himself and his business partner Bronson (his dog), are entrepreneurs of a successful hat company that distinguishes itself for its African touch. I am personally crazy about this creativity. The business is entirely run from their personalized sexy van.
You can buy his handmade hats online here: https://www.bundu-bison.co/
Why I love this project? because Dane is a friend, and he is not producing any new waste, is all about recycling and reusing creatively already existing garments that already served their purpose for years. Nothing best for our planet nowadays.
In Baleal we also meet Flo again, another french guy (french people is not so bad, rumors are wrong). He is a photographer who decided to live a life of principles, making tools out of wood, saying no to whatever is covered, bottled or stored in plastic, despising Amazon, consumerism, and capitalism.
He made a choice to work just as much as he needs to live on the road and free. He is the living and real strict version of whatever other people are only talking about but never have the courage to pursue.
We've been friends for quite a while, I respect him, but deep inside I cannot wait to see him drunk and off-balance again.
Apparently, everybody else with a van and a surfboard decided to come to Portugal.
The lineups are crowded and many foamies are flying above the heads. We have to find empty spots by driving away from the trendy areas further north or south.
We manage to spend an easy and cozy Christmas in Baleal. So cozy we almost got stuck, but nothing is sweeter than a nice morning session on the 25th of December.
We decide to spend New Year's Eve away from the beach next to a lake right in the middle of nothing, in the forgotten Portuguese inland. Is just us and a few friends that joined it for a nice party. Hidden in the forest we can live without masks, and the pretense of "social distancing".
Some people objects it is not fair what we are doing, but we are just social distancing our own way, as we have always done so far with our lifestyle.
We find shelter in nature and live happily like this. No laws are broken.
Our home is on wheels and the tires roll on these roads. We stay safe, wear masks, and do activities that keep us healthy.