well and truly captured our hearts and we were more than happy to hang around
for Christmas, with so much to see and do we had no doubt about being in this
country for the festive period.
Lubrin behind we made our way to Granada, the first big city we’d visit in
Spain, and soon to be our last. Spending the first night stealth camping with a
couple of other vans by a sports centre and a skate park, we parked up down the
road from the Old Town in the afternoon to spend the afternoon exploring the
cobbled streets in the blazing sun. Throngs of tourists moved in packs
throughout Albaicín, stopping at miradors to catch a stunning
view of Alhambra in the distance, with impressive mountains providing an epic
The streets were narrow, some insanely steep, it was a shock
to see people manoeuvring their cars through the seemingly impassable spaces. We’d
rode our bikes through the area, allowing us to visit a lot more than we would
have on foot.
I was lagging behind Theo as we approached the van after sunset,
so was initially confused as he dashed madly around the side of the van, flinging
the side door open, showcasing the fact that the lights were on. Immediately I
thought we’d left the lights on accidently, so Theo was no doubt overreacting. It
wasn’t until he dove out the van, hands clutching his face and repeatedly
shouting “No, no, no!”, that I
realised something horrendous had happened - we’d been robbed.
The van was a state; smashed window, glass scattered
seemingly everywhere, curtains hanging haphazardly, absolutely every item
imaginable had been pulled out of its respected home and rifled through, taken
or dashed to the ground. They’d left nothing of ‘value’ behind; emptying every
wash bag, backpack, make-up bag, draw, cupboard, glove box, to claim as many of
our belongings as possible.
I can’t begin to explain what a pain in the ass and heartache
the whole ordeal was. Frantically dialling 112 I spoke to an operator, who told
me to call the police, but they weren’t sure of their local number and
suggested I should just visit the police station. Explaining to them that a) I’m
travelling so have no idea where a police station is, and b) that this was a
crime scene so couldn’t exactly drive anywhere, I was at the end of my tether.
With no other option I flagged down the first car to pass us – an Audi A3
driven by an English speaking Spaniard who was incredibly helpful and understanding,
he even called the police on our behalf (I sadly lost his details on my old,
broken phone). The kindness of strangers never fails to buoy our spirits,
although we were going through a crisis brought on by the hands of strangers we
were still incredibly grateful for Mr. Diaz who stayed with us after calling
the police to act as an interpreter.
The police themselves were confused as to why we had so many
valuables in our vehicle; wanting to know about every item we thought had been
stolen. It was a difficult time to recount everything that had been taken as we
couldn’t thoroughly search all our belongings until forensics had searched, so
we didn’t even know exactly what was missing.
Saying goodbye to Diaz we followed the police to the station,
one we would not have found without
knowing exactly where it was, now being sat-nav-less meant we had zero chance
of finding it with our map of Europe not providing detailed maps for every
single city on the continent.
Trying to explain the separation anxiety we experienced when
pulling up outside the station is impossible. They insisted we leave the van on
the street, open and exposed with her smashed window. Even though the majority
of our valuable possessions were now missing we still felt uneasy leaving her
on the Granadan streets again, but we didn’t have a choice.
The police station was a disheartening, more questioning,
taking details, and informing us forensics couldn’t sweep the van until the
following morning at 8am. We looked at them incredulous – this was our home, where were we to sleep? They just
shrugged, it wasn’t their problem.
Being thrust into a crisis such as this was most definitely
an eye opener, and we couldn’t even have a decent sleep. Grabbing our slankets
from the bed we swiftly discovered they’d even stolen our Christmas presents sent
over from our families. It’s not the loss of material possessions that was
difficult to deal with but the violation of our safe place, that gifts chosen
for us by people who loved and cared for us would most likely just be thrown in
a bush and discarded as easily as a piece of trash. Everything can be replaced
but the bad taste in your mouth and uneasiness takes much longer to fade.
That was the last straw – upset that our world had been
turned upside down we made the decision to return to the UK as soon as the pointless
forensics was undertaken so we could repair the van and replace the necessities.
Refreshed from The Worst Nights Sleep Ever, we arrived bright
eyed and bushy tailed for a super swift forensics exam then immediately hit the
local shopping centre to wrestle a piece of cardboard big enough to cover the
window out of the recycling and tape it to the van. Then began the horrendous
clean up – glass was everywhere. We
still find pieces now, 6 months later, the stuff just gets in every space imaginable.
Given the chance to fully check through the van we realised more items were
missing, which just added to our intense desire to leave – we’d already
overstayed our welcome.
The weather reflected our feelings as huge raindrops splatted
onto the tarmac of the garage we cleaned up in. It was time to leave Spain and
after 2 days solid driving, two nights sleeping in the port of Bilbao, one
ridiculously rough ferry crossing with 5 vomiting incidents, then another 200
miles through UK motorways we were back where we’d started 6 months previously.
Part one of vanlife was complete with its harsh realities.