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Old 10-19-2012, 01:33 PM   #76
jetjackson OP
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Volunteering at Can Jou - Part 3

Volunteering at Can Jou - Part 3

It was Thursday afternoon or something when I finally left for Avignon to see Nicole. It had been raining earlier in the day and so I was kitted out in the banana suit. With an undesirable amount of tread left on the rear tyre I was riding carefully. Not like your grandmother, but certainly not pushing it around the corners. It was about 15 degrees, cold enough to make it uncomfortable in combination with the rain.

A storm rolls in over Can Jou.

Earlier that morning I had been washing horse blankets with detergent. I was going at them hell for leather with the scrubbing brush and it wasn't until I had washed about a dozen blankets when I looked down and my knuckles were bleeding. The skin on my hands had become very soft and when I started washing them in water it took forever to get the feel of detergent off my hands. I went back to look on the container only to see this symbol on the back.

Now I know that I should have looked at the container earlier, but this is dishwashing detergent, with a photo of dishes on the front of it. Why the hell is it corrosive!?

It turns out that it is actually detergent that you put in industrial dishwashers.

My skin had become so soft that it rubbed off the back of my knuckles on the rough fabric of the horse blankets. There were open cuts, like carpet burns on the back of all my knuckles. As my hands dried out they itched like crazy and became extremely dry and cracked. You can imagine this put me in the best mood for my ride to Avignon.

I rode past Figueres and reached the autoroute which would then take me about 3 hours at a constant 120kph to get up to Avignon. As I rode down the on ramp and started to turn onto the highway I lost traction. The rear end fish tailed and then stood up. I don't know if I did something right, or what I did, but the bike stood back up and all I could do was go straight ahead, like I was riding a giant ice skate. Luckily there was no traffic behind me and the direct line in front of me was the hard shoulder so I just kept sliding until the bike came to a stop on the shoulder. I looked back and saw the spot where I lost traction and it looked like diesel or something had spilled on the road. The lack of tread on my tyres though couldn't have helped and so I drove like a grandmother for the next fifty odd k's until I felt comfortable on the rougher tarmac and settled into the 120kph speed limit.

Until 100k's out the weather held good, wet roads but none of that rain that turns your visibility to shit. About that time though, it did, indeed, turn to shit, and I learnt that unless the valcro seam on the banana suit is kneaded shut it will let in enough water to ensure I got soaked through three layers. Water saps the heat out of everything it touches through conduction and convection. So as soon as it started lashing down the temperature dropped to below 8 degrees. I thought I would be able to hold it out another hour to reach Avignon.

It only took 20 minutes for the cold water against my skin, combined with the wind, and my hands itching again due to the earlier incident to become too much and I pulled over to a fuel stop. One great thing about most of the fuel stops in France on the autoroutes is that they have hot showers. It usually requires that you buy fuel or pay about a euro for it, but it is well worth it. I jumped in the shower, warmed right back up again. Put on some spare clothes and used the spare set of rain gear that I had kept for Nicole. It didn't take long for me to start to get soaked through again but I was able to hold it out until I made it into Avignon.

I was so glad to see Nicole again, I felt like a broken man, the anxiety attacks, the corrosive incident and the cold ride had me right down. She read my demeanour as soon as I arrived, I remember looking at her and tried to make a joke of my predicament,

"Fix me!?"

That she did, we ordered pizza and watched movies while my clothes tumbled in the dryer.

She had some bizarre, foul smelling, coconut lotion that she insisted on rubbing on my hands. It seemed to work and the next day my hands had stopped itching and cracking.

My new cameras had taken their time but both had arrived just a couple of days before I got in. All thanks to my mother in London I was able to shoot video and take photos again.

The next few days were spent in, while it rained outside constantly, at some point it cleared and we left the house to go on a hike to Sant Remy, near where Van Gogh cut his ear off, and a bunch of Roman ruins.

The reservoir we hiked around at Sant Remy.

Some strange old structure... I have no idea what it is, maybe someone can tell me?

On the top is says "King of kings" in French, I am told by Nicole.

It was finally time to leave Avignon and head back down to Can Jou. It would only be another month before I would see Nicole again.

Sun sets over the Pyrennees.

Things were busy at Can Jou. Julian had started hanging out at Can Jou a bit more, apparently sick of spending so much time with his brother. One of his mates turned up and told me plenty of stories from when the Twins used to go wild at Ibiza in the summers. I can't remember his name, but he had one hell of a beard.

I started trying to get away from the mountain more often to keep me sane. Cammie took me to one of her show jumping meets. It helped that I was the only person that had the license to drive the horses in the float to the meet.

Cammie gets prepared in the warm up paddock before her run.

Cammie on the jumps.

We arrived back from the show jumping and the twins were having another BBQ, everyone was Catalonian though and I couldn't speak with them very much. Food was good though, plentiful and there was more beer than I could have ever wanted. Things got rowdy and the Ferrier, whose name is Marius and Julian joined one of the local, and loco, Catalonian guys in a bit of a song and dance. Julian was telling me that this Catalonian guy had bought the keyboard convinced that all he needed to do what write one catchy tune, like the Macarena, and so long as it got picked up, it was going to be his ticket to fortune.

The boys dancing to a tune that had a chorus dedicated to the Barcelona star footballer, it went "Messi, messi, messi, messi" about a dozen times.

It was the next afternoon, with hangovers from the preceding days festivities, that we had to deal with a horse on colics. I had never heard of this before I came to Can Jou but they stressed a few things with me, one of these was how to identify the signs of when a horse is on colics. Things like the horse laying on its side and not wanting to get up, not eating food, scratching it's belly, sweating profusely and showing general signs of pain. Colics is usually when too much grass or hay becomes compacted together and clogs the intestines in the horse, basically put. If not treated quickly it can kill the horse and the twins had lost a horse the year prior to colic.

Pilgrim was showing signs of being on colics. Cammie, who has a sixth sense for these things, sensed something was not quite right.

The vet was called in and she quickly inserted what must have been a 3 metre long tube into the horses nose. I watched curiously as she pushed inch after inch into Pilgrims nostril. In my mind I was thinking, "Where the f-ck is all this tube going!?" that surely she would stop soon but she kept pushing until at least a couple of metres had gone in.

Cammie held the tube in place and comforted Pilgrim while the vet poured warm water down a funnel into the tube. She then held the end of the tube down to another bucket. I realised she was using a gravity pump to essentially pump the stomach contents out of the horse. Half digested green hay started to flow into the bucket.

I thought that was it but as soon as it stopped she poured more warm water through the tube into the horses stomach. She had to fill the stomach enough to create a flow for the gravity pump. This process went on and I was sent to get another warm bucket of water. An hour passed. It became more difficult for the vet to get the flow started each time and so she started sucking on the end of the pipe, just like syphoning fuel from a car, and as soon as the green hay would appear in the pipe she would thrust it down into the bucket.

The vet sucks on the pump to get it flowing.

I fetched more water, Cammie and I exchanged positions and I held the tube in place and comforted the horse, trying to stop it from moving about too much. Blood was running down my hand from where the tube was rubbing against the horses nostril. I was covered in horse sweat and the heat that was coming off the horse was incredible.

It was onlya matter of time until the vet sucked a bit too hard and the green hay came through the tube a bit faster than expected. She pulled the tube away too late and copped some in the mouth. Normally I have a pretty strong stomach, but I was nursing a hangover and this made my stomach turn. The vet however, spat it out, wiped her mouth on her sleeve, smiled, and kept going. I knew then why veterinarians get paid the big money. Someone once said to me that in life, in order to make good money, you have to either do the jobs that nobody else can do, or the jobs that nobody else wants to do. To me, this was certainly the latter, she earned every cent she billed that afternoon as she took stomach contents in the mouth at least half a dozen times.

Cammie works Pilgrim in the paddock after the 3 hour stomach pumping session.

It went on for 3 hours like this until eventually the liquid coming from the horses stomach was virtually clear. Cammie took Pilgrim to the paddock to trot circles. It was apparently important that the horse keep moving to try and break up any remaining clumps in the stomach. It was a busy afternoon, after which we had to go and pick up more clients and put on happy faces. We had saved a horse though, and it was a good feeling to be part of that. A few days later Pilgrim was back to normal.

Spring had sprung by this point, flowers were starting to emerge and the days were slowly getting warmer.

Eating lunch on the thinking rock, the twins father used to say that no matter how bad things got, if he came out, sat on the rock and looked out to the mountains any problem could be solved. Whenever we needed to chat about something, the boys would bring me to the rock.

Julian and Marcus would always turn up at Can Jou randomly. They were never really there to do work, just make decisions and try to work on the leads they had to sell the place. Most weeks it would seem like they had a keen buyer on the hook. Most of the time though it would go cold. At one point 30 people turned up and started looking around the place. It turned out they were a local hippie group that had somehow become very cashed up. They were looking for a place to turn into their commune. I mentioned to the boys they were unlikely to get the fast decision they wanted from a group with 30 decision makers. In the end, that one fizzled too.

The boys would commisserate with me, we headed to the beach one afternoon to get stuck into Clara and Paella. We met with a guy who was one of the first volunteersat Can Jou two decades prior. He was British like their father, and had helped build Can Jou, eventually moving to Catalonia and buying a house of his own. His discussion with the twins centred around their plans and how they were looking after their younger brother. He obviously felt protective over the twins and a sense of responsibility for them after their father had passed away.

Marcus and I drinking Claras, beer with lemon.


Marcus finishes off his Paella.

After lunch we left the restaurant to see this waiting on the Horizon, Can Jou is 30 k's behind those dark clouds. It went from 17 degrees to 6 degrees as I rode into the rain, again freezing my ass off and having to jump straight in for a hot shower when I finally made it back to Can Jou.

Miguel, the local guy who did the tour support at Can Jou was given the task of training me up to do his job so that when the summer got busier we could run 2 tours in the one week. Myself doing tour support on one and him on the other. He spoke no English other than, "Yes", "No" and "Hello Ladies!". This was good, I had to speak to him in Spanish and so my Spanish started to improve.

Miguel and I set up a picnic for the riders on the trail as he teaches me how to do the 'trail support'.

Bells clang as a herd of sheep scuttle past.

Adinas salsa reheating on the gas burner for the picnic.

It wasn't long until I could start to hold down a better conversation with Adina and Juan in the kitchen. Actually, in the end I found it much easier to speak with Adina and Juan, who also spoke broken Spanish, than I did with the others, who spoke it very fast.

Working the horses in the paddock.

My skills with the horses were improving as well. Julien taught me to work the horses in the paddock. Cammie taught me how to treat a lame horse. I was becoming a better rider, although only getting to ride a couple of times a week.

Watching over the horses in the paddocks from the staff dining room.

One day the twins came to me and told me a new volunteer was on his way and they were picking him up. I was stoked that I would have someone else around Can Jou in a similar position to myself. His name was Wokman, yeah, Wokman Benitez. He was Morroccan, which was quite common in Spain, given their proximity to the place. He had lived all over Europe, getting by in various places, more recently Barcelona, where he had trained to become a chef.

Wokman was laid back, intelligent and we had good discussions about all things travel and philosophy. He could cook, and taught me how to get the most out of the ingredients that we had in the larder. Dinner was normally made for us on days where clients would stay in the hotel at Can Jou, but some nights they would be in other hotels out on the trail and so we had to fend for ourselves.

Wokman cooks up a storm in the staff dining room.

Unfotunately Wokman only stayed a few days. He needed to make a little bit of money, and was going to stay at Can Jou to work in the Hotel and help Juan and Adina out with the cooking. The twins couldn't afford to pay him that much though and when one of Wokmans old employers called offering him a decent job in Barcelona he was on the next bus.

So some things changed, and some things didn't. Liam and Senda still used Can Jou as their own personal weed den. Causing trouble and always leaving the place in a mess.

Senda with the shaving cream playing a prank on his passed out mate. Liam in the background cooking pasta to stave off the 'munchies'.

Senda draws on the face of his mate who has passed out on the couch in front of the fire from smoking too much weed. Some things transcend all cultures.

Marcus and Julian kept promising to get the pool cleaned out, but it stayed green. It was symptomatic of their eternal optimistic personalities. They loved to think big and promise big things, but didn't always have the follow through to get things done. They were always talking up how each year they would have a huge pool party, full of scantily clad Spanish girls, a DJ and unlimited beer. I know the personality type because I have been prone to the overly optimistic view of the future in the past, and at least in my earlier twenties, not always having the follow through. The trip that I am on now though, is one thing that I had always said I was going to do, and now I am doing it. That, is something that I am proud of.

The pool, left green after being neglected over the winter.

Storms would dump snow on the Pyrennees and the twins noted how unusual it was to have snow up there this late into Spring.

Marcus came to me about a week before Nicole was due to arrive at Can Jou. He had been called by two Australian guys in Barcelona who had run out of money and had got the number for Can Jou through a friend. Marcus asked me to suss them out when they arrived and give him my opinion of them. I said "So long as they don't turn up in skinny jeans and come from Melbourne, they should be fine!". He laughed and I explained that this most likely meant they were hipsters and if so I doubt they would have much work ethic. They would be more concerned with how their iPod playlist represented their personality.

Aaron on the right.

Patrick on the left.

You can imagine then how much the twins and I laughed when Patrick and Aaron pictured above turned up wearing skinny jeans. To top it off, they are both from Melbourne. The twins however were about to hit peak season and we needed as many hands on deck as possible. Without more volunteers coming forward we had to take what we could get. What we could get would turn out to be a giant clusterfuck almost a month later.

At first Patrick and Aaron were keen and they behaved themselves. Patrick was sent to work with Adina and Juan in the hotel, helping to clean and work in the kitchen. Aaron was put with me in the stables. Both of them were in their early 20's, both acted like teenagers. Just like teenagers they started pushing the boundaries to see what they could get away with.

The twins were quite liberal with food and wine. There was constantly a full 20 litre wine bag in the larder and a pallet of beer in the cellar. After all it is Spanish custom to drink a glass of wine with lunch. Patrick and Aaron didn't read the subtext when the twins said they could drink as much as they want. The twins didn't understand that young Australian boys from Melbourne will happily binge drink until you turn off the tap. After going through a 20 litre bag of wine in under 4 days it was becoming obvious that the boys had addictive personalities.

At first it didn't bother the twins too much, heavy partiers themselves, they were somewhat impressed in the new volunteers ability to put away the vino. I have heard alcohol called truth serum before and this was especially true with Patrick and Aaron. They started to tell their story. How they had travelled around Asia for 2 months before reaching Europe and spent about $15k each in the process. They had been arrested in Laos and had to convince the local police to give them their passports back so they could leave the country. How they got arrested was an even worse story, one they wouldn't tell me until a few weeks later. A story that is so messed up that not even 20 litres of wine was loosening their lips.

Arriving in Berlin in Europe they had spent most of their money partying, but also lost about 2 grand in an ATM card skimming scam, which they were trying to get back. Exhausted from the partying in Berlin they had made it to Barcelona with next to no money. They slept in a building site where they met a homeless guy from Transylvania who took them to a hostel where he occasionally took refuge from the streets. At that hostel they were able to work in exchange for a roof over their head for a week or so, which is where they met a person who gave them the phone number for Can Jou.

I wasn't particularly fond of them from the start. What irks me is that we have these Australians parading around Europe, causing nuisance, and acting like they are above the law in Asia. Their hipster bullshit also frustrated me. Acting like they were cultured, Aaron had studied literature at university for a semester before dropping out and thought he was next Hunter S Thompson. He would use long words incorrectly in order to condescend and belittle you. Patrick was just a space cadet, he was the more barable out of the two. They were okay at times though, when you have to work with people you can't hold the fists up at all times.

It all came to a head after about a week though. Just in time for Nicoles arrival.
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Old 10-20-2012, 10:00 AM   #77
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Very good and interesting writing Jet, especially when it comes to people and their behaviour. The sad thing is the fact that people that live with mediocrity and bullshit flowing out of their skin are all around us and seem to be always around, whereas people of worth and virtue seem to leave us only too soon.

Safe rides wherever you are. As for me, will be cruising around Catalonia in a week or so trying to get some of the feel you describe. We'll see. Regards, Cameleer
"People don't change... they just get older"
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:25 PM   #78
jetjackson OP
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Volunteering at Can Jou - The final part

Volunteering at Can Jou - The final part

I hadn't seen Nicole for three weeks. It's about 40 minutes from Can Jou to Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dali, and the city where Nicole was due in on the high speed train from France. She had spent a few days in Sete and was planning to stay in Perpignan but opted to skip it in order to get to Can Jou a day earlier.

It had only been a month or so but I was very glad to see her, excited for her to meet everyone at Can Jou and see what life there was like. We had six days together before Nicole had to fly to Berlin in order to get her German working visa. She was going to stay there for about three weeks, volunteering in an Apiary for a fortnight with a friend of hers from Avignon who was going to rendevous with her in Berlin. Then she would head back down to Can Jou where we could work together for another month before looping around the south of Spain and returning north to Amsterdam where some friends of ours from Australia would meet us.

We had a tight knit group of friends back home. My best mates, Dan and Marcus, acquaintences at University, the three of us had become a lot closer on our respective returns from 'overseas experiences' three years prior - except Marcus, he had never left Australia. Anyway, the three of us were all into motorbikes. Dan and I had a thirst for adventure that we just dragged Marcus into, kicking, screaming and worrying.

Marie and Nicole were tight knit from 'way back'. Dan and I met Nicole one day at a picnic in the park in Brisbane. We mentioned that we were going hiking and camping which peaked Nicoles interest, who thought her friend Marie would be keen. Three weeks later we were climbing the highest mountain in our area, Marcus, Dan, Marie, Nicole and I. More and more camping and hiking adventures followed over 18 months and we all got a lot closer.

We had all wanted to do a big trip together, the original plan was for us to all meet up in South America together after I had done my European leg and Nicole had finisehed her teaching placement in Avignon. The girls would buy a car and follow Dan, Marcus and I who would be on motorbikes. Trying to sort five people on to a long term trip like this proved too much though.

Dan had taken the idea and got it in his head that he wanted to film it and try to get sponsorship/tv deal. His idea snowballed and turned into an idea to retrace the route of Che Guevera from the film 'Motorcycle diaries'. He ran with this and was pitching it to various production companies in Australia. Originally he thought this could fund the trip for the five of us but further discussions with production companies indicated that it would have to be only two people on the one bike, like in the original movie, and they would have to be 'known' personalities. So Dan's idea started to fork in a different direction to what we all wanted to do.

Dan even went to the point of getting a uni student who was looking for experience and pulling together a bunch of resources to film a 5 part series in our outback Queensland. Marcus, Dan and I rode together for a week filming in order to produce something he could show as a bit of a 'talent' reel to the production companies.You can watch them here -

It was from that experience that I sort of gained a hunger for filming my adventures.

I am digressing but the reason I include these background explanations for you is so that you get a better understanding of why I make certain decisions and what my influences during this long trip are. Plus I think it's more interesting to read if you understand more about who I am and who the people in my RR actually are, as opposed to just a face on a bike that does things. That's why I am taking time to flesh out the characters a bit. So please stick with me here... plenty of motorcycle stuff coming, I promise.

Anyway, this is why Dan had pulled out from the idea, to pursue the filming idea in South America. One production company had shown keen interest and he was going to give it his best shot. I fully supported him although I was a bit down on the idea of not being able to share a motorcycling experience with my best mate. I wasn't fully convinced it was going to go ahead, all that mattered though, was that I support my mate. In the past I had similar ideas which I pursued, lost money on, but learned immensely, and benefited from the support of those around me at the time.

Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, you might say.

We were left with Marcus, Marie, Nicole and I. And Jamie, can't forget Jamie. Jamie is a mate of ours, also through University. He had moved to Sydney for work, and to be with his mother who has a degenerating illness, about a year before I left on my trip. A keen four wheel driver and a good all round guy, he had planned to join the girls for a few weeks in the car in South America in the original plan.

As the months went past, January, February, March and no serious decisions had been made on South America it became less and less likely. Nicole and I decided to take a different tack and went to the others with the idea of them meeting up with us in Europe, hiring a car and following us on the motorbike for 3 weeks. This was a good amount of time for everybody, enough time for the others to make the most of coming all the way to Europe from Australia, but also not too much that they couldn't get the time off work.

Ultimately Dan's pursuit of the South American dream lost momentum. It know it was a hard time for him. It was also hard for me not to be home to support him. He had dropped hours at his job, as a housing co-ordinator for our old University, to take time to pursue the project. So he didn't have much in the way of savings. I think it was good for him though, he took stock of his career, eventually he found a job with a company that specialises in investment properties that house students, something related to his background. He is earning better money and on track for a career where he could buy into his own branch of this fast growing property management business. This all meant though, that because he was starting in a new job he couldn't get time off work to come with us and explore Europe.

Plans were starting to come together and we had put a marker in the sand, agreeing to meet in Amsterdam on August 12. Marie, Marcus and Jamie had bought plane tickets and Nicole and I had a date to work to. Hence the plan to do Spain and Belgium first, before heading up to Amsterdam for August 12.

Rewind back to where I started, Nicole and I, driving in the car to Can Jou, with Nicole being awed taking in the scenery along the way. It was a Tuesday, Can Jou was in full swing. Adina was in the kitchen and as she was essentially the 'matriarch' at Can Jou, she met Nicole like a mother meeting her sons girlfriend for the first time. Full of excitement and questions. Luckily, most of which I had to translate. Nicole got along well with Cammie, as they both spoke French. At the dinner table Cammie voiced her complaints in French to Nicole about the new boys Aaron and Patrick. Cammie accepted they were getting the work done, but didn't warm to them at all. She wasn't afraid to voice her opinion either.

Rather than trying to win Cammie over, Aaron would poke at her with remarks, trying to bait her.

It was the next morning when Julien and Marcus turned up for breakfast that I knew something was up. Their initial amusement with Aaron and Patricks drunken behaviour had turned to concern and anger. You have to have your wits around horses and a drunkard is a liability, regardless of how hard they work. I hadn't seen them in this type of mood before. They told us we would all have a meeting that day after lunch.

Marcus, is definitely the bad cop out of the two, and he was the one holding the meeting. We all sat to the table as he outlined a whole range of 'rules' that everyone had to abide by. One of these was, no going to the larder, no drinking on work days, and so on. I was quite frustrated by this, as Marcus insisted the rules applied to everyone. I felt I was taking the consequences of their misbehaviour.

Marcus reminded the two boys that they were on a two week trial, at the end of which, the twins would decide if they could stay. I forgot to mention this before, but the twins had set this out from the start, in case the new boys turned out to be trouble. He also pointed out that Cammie would make the decision about Aaron, as she was the stable manager. This threw out Aaron, who thought he only answered to the twins. It would be lesson to him in group politics. The twins knew that they had to keep Cammie happy. She is the backbone of the horse side of the business and they rely on her immensely.

At least initially the boys took an about turn. When they weren't drunk they were tolerable and we were able to find some common ground. Aaron stopped berating Cammie, realising that he had to win her over.

Nicole had her first day of work, we greased all the saddles and bridles and just did general work. She was enjoying it. Cammie and the twins were happy with her work. These were good things if she were to come back and spend 6 weeks or more as a volunteer.

Marius, the ferrier, was shoeing the horses that day. A really interesting process. He was staunch Catalan with a thick accent and would prefer to speak English with me, than Castillian Spanish. He told me how shoeing a horse is the same as putting shoes on an athlete. You have to analyse their gait and adjust their hooves accordingly. He had won a competition the year prior and even though he was young had been named the number 1 ferrier in Spain. I helped him with his English, as he was trying to learn before heading to an international convention for Ferriers.

Nicole and I had a couple of days off together. We skyped with the crew back home to organise things for our August trip around the Netherlands and Germany. We started to develop potential routes.

We took a day trip to the Pont De Llierca, only about 20 minutes drive from Can Jou. It is one of the favourite spots for clients at Can Jou, as they get to swim and take the horses over this tiny bridge. It's pretty high up and although some people have done it I was advised not to jump from it into the water. A story was going around how a couple of years before a local boy had died after misjudging the jump and landing on the rocks.

Skipping stones near the pont.

The Pont de Llierca.

Water was still a bit cold.

Cammie and I took Nicole for a ride on the horses, despite the weather. Nicole could ride, which earnt her more admoration from Cammie.

Nicole and I riding the horses through the hills.

During Nicoles time at Can Jou, she started to get paranoid about her Visa situation. She had a flight booked to Berlin to arrive on the Sunday but her work visa allowing her to stay in the Shengen zone only lasted until the Wednesday. We had still not been able to get a straight answer as to whether she would automatically go onto the 90 day waiver, or if her work visa already took up those 90 days. Now that we were getting closer to crunch time, she was getting anxious.

Originally from what she had read it seemed extremely easy for her to get the new work visa in Germany. However the more research she did, the more she found mixed experiences. Some people had recieved their work visa the same day, others had just been given an appointment and told to come back six weeks later. This was fine if you were on the 90 day tourist waiver, but Nicole wasn't sure if she would go on to that. The punishment for overstaying is a long ban. Some people have been given a 3 year ban for overstaying the visa by a couple of days. She called the German embassy in
Paris, thinking it might be easier for her to get it in France. They told her it was an easy process, all she had to do was go straight to Berlin and apply in person. It sounded easy. Nicole ensured she had every last bit of paperwork that would be required.

Eventually the six days were up. I had to drop the clients back in Barcelona on the Sunday morning and so Nicole came with me. We had time to explore Barcelona before I dropped her off at the airport in the afternoon.

The giant fish on the boardwalk, you can see it in the distance.

A sign of the economic hardships in Spain.

One of the more interesting styles of building in Barcelona.

Cranes hang over the Sagrada Familia, in construction since the 1880s

Locals in a circle dance in front of one of the Cathedrals.

We said our goodbyes, it would only be a couple of weeks before we would see eachother again. "Text me when you get in."

Unlike other Sundays I got to pick up the clients from Barcelona airport after I picked Nicole up. There were a couple of good looking young Swedish girls on the bus. I knew all the boys would be happy. Particularly Patrick and Aaron, whose new found sobriety meant they were starting to feel the isolation of Can Jou. Initially they had raved about the place, they were looking forward to using their time to get some writing and reading done. They had no chance though, with these girls, at least I thought.

Everyone was waiting to greet the new arrivals at Can Jou. Aaron and Patrick couldn't move fast enough to help the young ladies with their bags. I was finally getting to see their A game. Pointless I thought, Marcus and Julian, the twins, the eagles, were circling, biding their time. As soon as the new arrivals were out of earshot the comments flowed, "Shit, she's hot, a 10" etc. Aaron and Patrick were more excited than children on Christmas morning.

The next morning Aaron was sussing out the situation. By lunchtime he had established that one girl was single, and the other one had a boyfriend back home.

As was customary on some of the Can Jou packages, clients would be taken in the afternoon on Wednesdays to Girona for shopping an to tour the town. I was the driver and with enough room in the vehicle, Aaron and Patrick managed to hitch a ride. Sitting next to the single Swedish girl they both went to work. As my old Irish flatmate who was in construction would say, they were,"Putting in the rebar." That is, putting in the metal bars before pouring the concrete that forms the foundation of a building.

Apartments back onto the river in Girona.

A festival of flowers was on and these flower style installations were everywhere.

The boys mentioned that we were having a bit of a party that night in the staff dining room as it was their 'day off', they were allowed to drink. I was there that night, while Aaron and Patrick both vied for this girls attention. Eventually, and to my surprise, Patrick managed to click with her after he found they had a similar taste in music. Indeed, they were exchanging iPod playlists, bloody hispters.

I went to bed only to wake when Patrick triumphantly entered the volunteer house an hour or so later. He had managed to get a kiss out of her. Some things will always remain a mystery to me, the ultimate meaning of life, the big bang, and how the hell Patrick pulled that off.

My stepdad taught me that one thing that will always get you into trouble is bragging. The horses hadn't even finished their morning feed before everyone knew about what had happened. I became the underdog supporter and tried to pass on my advice, telling him to keep quiet and not jump the gun on this one. Later that night he was working in the kitchen and when I walked in he was talking up how he was going to 'give it to' this Swedish girl. I told him to pipe down, he didn't realise how loud his voice was, but it was too late. She had heard everything he said from the dining room just outside the kitchen. He never got another chance.

A hot air balloon heads over Can Jou during a clear early morning.

The local fire brigade, called 'Bomberos', are on patrol, checking in with landowners to ensure that fire access roads are kept clear. They are expected a high fire danger in the summer.

Meanwhile, Nicole had arrived in Berlin and had called me, quite distressed, on the Monday night. She had been to the authorities that day and had found out that she needed proof of address in Berlin in order to get the working visa she needed to stay in the Shengen zone. This was not clear in all the information she had read but she thought it might have been, and planned to use the address of the Apiary she was going to volunteer at. Unfortunately, this was in another prefecture and the address had to be in Berlin. The hostel was not able to allow her to use their address and to make matters worse, they needed proof in the form of a bill, bank statement, or the like sent to the address, or a lease. We established that they would accept a letter from a landlord stating that she lived at a certain address. I knew a couple of people in Berlin and so I shot off a few emails, as did the host at the Apiary where she was due to volunteer. We went to sleep, fingers crossed that we would get proof of address the next day.

I was constantly on Skype in between tasks the next day. Nicole was not sure if she had to leave the Shengen zone the next day and she was banking on being able to get the work visa. It was late in the afternoon and we still did not have an address. We had read an esperience that suggested she would be able to get a cover note from the visa office that would allow her to stay in Germany until her visa appointment day, which could be in 6 to 8 weeks time. That didn't really fit in with our plans, but it was an option. We went through the options again and again for hours. We would make a decision and then I would call back Nicole and she would have changed her mind or become uncertain about the decision. She was very anxious at this point. It didn't help that her hostel was above a nightclub and she hadn't slept properly since she arrived. None of the possible options were really providing much security. Nicole did not want to risk a ban from the Shengen zone and was getting very frustrated.

Originally, before we had decided to travel together, she was planning to spend some time in the Balkans. They are outside the Shengen zone and so a lot of travelers spend 3 months out of Shengen in the Balkans and Romania slash Bulgaria. After those months are up they get a fresh 3 months in the Shengen zone. If Nicole flew to the Balkans she wouldn't have to worry about her visa situation. I hated the thought of her anxious and worried in Berlin by herself. It was at this point that I decided our plans would have to be turned upside down.

We only had one date that we had to stick to, August 12. All we had to do was get there by then. Originally we had planned to do Spain and western Europe, meet up with our friends and then do Eastern Europe afterwards. However, if Nicole went to the Balkans she could stay there until I could get there, and she wouldn't have to worry at all about the visa situation. I could meet up with her, we could travel Eastern Europe together and reenter the Shengen zone after 90 days, zip over to Amsterdam, meet up with our friends and the do Western Europe second.

When a decision makes sense, it doesn't take very long for it to become the choice. I didn't have the cashflow to travel yet and wouldn't for a couple of months. I was waiting on a big tax cheque back from the Australian government that would help fund the next part of my trip. Nicole had offered to cover me for June until I got my tax back, that way I could meet her in the Balkans at the start of June. We could then travel around the Balkans and Eastern Europe together. I wasn't keen on borrowing money from her, worried that it could put undue stress into our new relationship. However I was more keen to see her sooner, and to travel with her, so even though she didn't ask, I promised her the bike as collateral if anything went wrong.

Thinking it over, the decision made more sense, we would be travelling through the cheapest part of Europe during a period when cashflow was an issue. Moreover, we would see the colder parts of Europe in the middle of summer and return to Spain in September when Autumn would start to take hold. So that is how, just before it clicked over midnight, Nicole purchased a plane ticket to Croatia for the following afternoon, the last day her Visa allowed her to remain in the Shengen zone.

I couldn't go to her straight away though, the bike needed new tyres and a service. Plus I couldn't leave the twins in the lurch like that. Not after they had looked after me. Not to mention that the anxiety hadn't totally abated yet. It had been brewing below the surface. I was starting to get other strange symptoms too. I needed to see a doctor and make sure my health was fine and to get more prescription medication. As I have mentioned earlier, I have Hashimotos disease, it basically makes me hypothyroid and I have to take daily medication to supplement my thyroid hormones and keep everything in check.

It turned out to be the right decision, as she left Germany they heavily scrutinised her work visa and checked her entire passport front to back, counting the days.

At the end of the week, as is customary, everyone has drinks in the bar. Patrick had been given the task of running the bar from the start, he was holding it down quite well. The twins had given them the all clear to stay, most likely because they had a big week coming up and needed the help. It was Aarons day off though, and he had been drinking all day, the girls were in the bar. I was there trying to make sure nothing went wrong. Julien turned up and we were having drinks.

Now, Aaron likes to think of himself as a writer, and he had mentioned it to me before, but he brought it up again, maybe to impress the girls, maybe to impress Julien, maybe to get a rise out of somebody. He talked about a book he was going to write, the protagonist is a drug addict, and he says the first sentance, of which I can only remember one part clearly "and he watched as the shmegma matriculated on the end of his penis." Now I know you are probably disgusted by reading that, if not, google schmegma. It shocked anyone he told it to, which was the point. However it is a total misuse of the word matriculation, which is the world used to describe the process where one moves from say secondary to tertiary education. I pulled him up on. He wasn't impressed, rolled his eyes at me, called me an idiot, said that I had no idea about creative literature and any word could be used in any context with inferred meaning. It was the way that he said it, and he fact that he said I was an idiot that made me want to backhand him. Deep breath. Opting for the more diplomatic route, I simply said "I'm not going to stand here and listen to the shit that comes out of your mouth." and walked out.

Julien tells me that he ripped into Aaron, telling him that if anyone walks out of a room on you then you have a problem. Aaron offered no apology in the following days but avoided me until I could stand the sight of him again.

I got stuck back into the routine at Can Jou. Marcus and Julien finally got the pool fixed. That is they got Patrick and Aaron to clean it out and repaint it. The boys were so excited with the prospect of a pool party with Spanish birds that they worked to the bone to get it cleaned up.

A week passed. Patrick and Aaron were starting to get restless. No young girls had come to Can Jou since they struck out with the Swiss. The Sunday night had been dissapointment as the age group was beyond both of the boys upper limit. There was light on the horizon however as the week coming had 30 riders booked in. The twins were running hectic trying to arrange how they would run three trails side by side, everyone would have to pull their weight. In order to establish the best horse for the client it is required that the client gives their height and weight at the time of booking. This meant that we had a list of all the heights and weights of all the clients to come. Patrick and Aaron had became so stir crazy that they got by on the promising numbers on the list, there were some very tall, slim ladies coming to Can Jou for the week.

Nicole had landed on her feet in Croatia. She found an ad on helpx wanting a volunteer to work on Hvar island at a hostel there. One phone call and she was on the next boat to Hvar. It turned out to be perfect for her. Luka was an old guy there that ran a hostel, it was a newish business for him as he was traditionally an olive farmer. In exchange for food and accommodation Nicole, revamped his branding and all his websites and promotional material, plus assisted with general jobs around the hostel. She didn't even have to clean, he had someone else for that. Nicole was on a winner.

Everyone out watching the sun set. Adina and Juans daughters running riot around us. Yelling at each other in a mixture of Catalan and Romanian.

Sun sets over the Pyrennees. There were so many of these and I can't make the camera do it justice.

It was Sunday night, the start of the triple trail at Can Jou. The twins, Cammie and I went to pick up the clients from the bus in Sant Jaume. Patrick and Aaron waited with bated breath, eager for some fraternisation. Off the bus rolled couple after couple, mostly in their forties and fifties, a few of them quite tall and lean. I thought there would at least be some young girls on the bus but it quickly emptied and there was nobody to keep any of the boys warm at night. They were gutted.

At the end of the week, Julian decided to take us all out to dinner and drinks in Girona. The boys at least needed to see woman of a similar age. Neither had a working laptop with them and I sure as hell wasn't going to let them borrow my laptop to look at porn. The rest of their story of Laos comes out. They had made friends with a heroin dealer in Laos and were at his house, where Aaron passed out and Patrick overdosed on heroin. Patrick woke up in hospital with a catheter inserted, and tubes hanging out everywhere. Aaron had woken up with a tattoo on his foot. Somehow they left the hospital and they wanted to leave Laos straight away but the police had their passports. Their story gets fuzzy at points, but they managed to get their passports back apparently by threatening to use the Australian embassy, after this they headed straight to Berlin. Now regardless to the amount of truth in their story, they told it with pride, to me, that is the messed up part. Bogan, hipster, train wrecks! A week or so later we would see their saga of misadventure continue.

Getting stuck into some pinchos in Girona!


The local squid speciality, this stuff melted in your mouth, it was so damn good!

I had a couple of weeks left and a few admnistrative things to do.

New wheels got put on the bike, as well as new front brake pads and a new chain. I had wanted to get all my services done at a dealer but I got quoted 300 euro for the service, not including any parts or new tyres. In the end I got the whole service, new chain/brake pads/oil fiter and tyres for 400 euros from a chain in Spain called Rodi.

Ivan puts on the new brake pads, he was working as a mechanic while studying engineering at Uni. Did a good job on the bike.

I had been surrounded with mountain roads for months and unable to ride on them. Suddenly it was my playground and I was making the most of it in my time off.

Now all I had to do was get my health dealt with, and send half my things back to Australia to make space for Nicoles gear on the bike. The twins got their mother to take me to the doctor. For 50 euros I saw a doctor, got my blood tests done and a few days later I had my results and enough medication to last me another 6 months. What was curious though, was that my Thyroid tests had come back high. I had expected them to be low, my medication is sensitive to heat according to the manufacturer and had been up and down through hot and cold along the trip so far, diminishing its potency. At least I thought. It had pretty much stayed fine, the only thing that changed was my bodyweight, which had dropped from 77kg down to 71. So what was a normal dose for me a year ago was now too much. I had gone hyperthyroid, one symptom of which is, hightened anxiety, along with some other fun things.

Knowing what was wrong was half the battle, I knew how to deal with it and so I dropped my medication dose back.

It was about this time that the weekly trip to Girona for the clients came about. I was busy and so couldn't take them. The twins decided to let Patrick and Aaron drive them. What they didn't know was that Patrick didn't technically have a license. He had lost it in Australia for various traffic violations. Aaron couldn't drive. I knew this and thought that Marcus and Julien knew too.

Arriving back from whatever I was doing Aaron and Patrick ran to me telling me their story. Patrick had been arrested. The police had pulled them over for a random check. Patrick couldn't offer a license up, he told them that he didn't bring it travelling with him but it was back at home. They took him in to the station and charged him. Marcus luckily knew the local head of the police, unsurprisingly, he used to date the man's daughter. He was able to get Patrick a summons to appear in court the next day.

Both Patrick and Aaron were fairly non-chalant about it, if not proud of their misdemeanor. Julien didn't think it was a big issue. "I will just pay the fine and take the slap on the wrist," says Patrick. I was paying him out, saying that if he got put in prison he better learn to speak Catalan and prepare to become somebodys bitch.

So Patrick had to appear in court the next morning at 9:30am or the police will turn up to arrest him. He puts on his skinny jeans and suit jacket and we head off to court with plenty of time to spare. As we go down the hill the 4wd is driving and something isn't quite right. It seems as though the four wheel drive won't disengage. The wheels are squeeling as we turn the corners and we have to take it very slow. Julien is in a stubborn mood though. We hit the highway and he is pushing the car. I can smell smoke, we look back and smoke is coming out of the rear of the car, stupidly Julien pushes on but the car won't go fast, as he pulls over and slows down the wheels lock and crunch and screeches to a halt. We are fine, but the car stinks, and hydraulic fluid is pissing out underneath. Girona is about 30 minutes away and it is quarter to 9. If Patrick doesn't make it to court he will be arrested and charged. You can't make this stuff up.

Julien calls the local mechanic, who knows them very well, which I now understand, given the way the twins drive the car. He comes straight to us and swaps us his lone car and we fly off in it to Girona, literally with just enough time to get there. We arrive with a minute or so to spare and we pull up right outside the court. I jump in the drivers seat to find a park while they run up to the court.

After getting a park I find Julien sitting outside the waiting room with Patrick. A legal aide has been assigned to Patrick. Julien translates. The aide goes into the room to speak to the judge. He comes out and speaks to Julien in Catalan, I can only partially understand but I hear a "sis", Juliens draw drops, "Sis!?", the aide confirms "Sis." I know something is bad.

Julien turns to explain to us. So long as Patrick can produce a copy of his Australian license in 7 days time at another court hearing, he will just get a fine. If he cannot he will be charged and the penalty is 6 months prison. I realise that "Sis" is Catalan for "Seis", Six. Julien also thought it would only be a fine, he is just as surprised.

There is definitely fear now in Patricks eyes and I know why. Julien doesn't know that Patrick can't produce an Australian license. Patrick has told him that he technically has a license but it is just suspended. I know this means he can't produce it. Julien doesn't really understand the Australian system and Patrick is happy not to explain it to him yet, and just says that he can produce the documents. Patrick then goes in and testifies that he does in fact have a license, a testimony that would be contempt if he cannot produce a license.

I'm not going to get in the middle of it. When we get back Patrick tells Aaron the situation. Aaron's immediate response, "let's leave the country". Patrick isn't so keen, worried they would get pulled up at the border. He calls the Australian Embassy trying to get some sympathy, and assistance. Eventually the head of the embassy calls back, and in a round a bout way tells Patrick that he is in Spain, he broke Spanish laws, which can come with harsh punishment, and that he has to play by the rules of the country he is in. With no help coming from the Australian government they hatched a plan, to leave via France to Northern Ireland. Patrick has family there they could stay with. He would then apply for his Irish passport which he had claim to through his parents. It gets more obscure, the plan after that was then to change his name so that he could travel under the passport in a new name and avoid the Spanish policia. Patrick secured a loan from his brother and they were on the next bus out of there the following morning.

Just like that, they were gone.

I only had a few days left in Can Jou. Everything was prepped now for the next stage of my journey. In a way I was sad to leave Can Jou. The twins had really looked after me. My dad thinks I may have been a bit harsh on them in my last posts. I hope it hasn't come across that way. They are great guys, friendly, full of energy and a lust for life. They had their flaws too, as we all do, but I can't fault them with looking after me. They would take me out for breakfasts. When I told them I needed to see a doctor they arranged for their mother to take me and translate. They even paid for my new tyres as a thank you for the help I had given them at Can Jou. Anyone would be lucky to meet them and they could certainly show you how to enjoy life.

I want to remember the characters, the people, from my travels and I guess that is why I find it important to share who they were, without sugar coating it.

It was the second last night before I left and we headed out for dinner, Marcus, Julien, Cammie and I. Julien said I couldn't leave Catalonia without trying proper Jamon, emphasising proper.

Julian tests the wine.

PROPER Jamon, and another local favourite, tomato rubbed on bread.

Can't remember what these things were, but they were awesome.

Ratafia, the local digestiv.

It came around to my last day, I packed everything up for the bike, prepping myself to ride towards Croatia the next day. Nicole would meet me at Opatija, in the north of Croatia, 1400km away. I planned to knock out about 900k's on the first day so that I arrived about lunchtime the following day in Opatija. I was excited to be leaving and after getting everything organised I went to bed to get a good solid 8 hours before the next day.

I couldn't sleep. I can't even remember the thoughts that were going through my head at first but after an hour, then only thing I could think was, if I get to sleep now I am only going to get 7 hours sleep. An hour later and I still wasn't asleep, getting frustrated that I couldn't sleep, which was only making it harder. It got to 4 am and I thought there is no way I can ride the bike after only 3 hours sleep.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:19 AM   #79
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still reading up on your posts (which are great), but wanted to hop over to post a reply first
thanks a lot for detailing your gear, budget and way of spending the night. it helps a lot, for example I wanted something like a pacsafe but never knew how to find it, for some reason 'wire net' and such descriptions never helped me on ebay
I will be traveling for one and a half months next year, first long trip, so I'm in full preparation and securing my stuff was one of my concerns that hadn't been covered. I will camp (in the wild and on campings) as much as possible, to limit cost, and it helps if you know your gear won't go anywhere while you doze off :)
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:14 PM   #80
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got to the end, fantastic writing! best writing I've seen so far in RR's, so hat's off
when's the next installment? also, where are you right now?
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:23 AM   #81
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Cheers mate!

I am back home, and at the moment working in an underground mine. It's a long story but my editing pc has broken and so I am waiting until I have enough cash to buy the latest and greatest editing mac before I start putting together another video blog.

At this stage that looks like April, however I found out I can book in editing time on some great pc's they have in town at the state library. Keen to book one in soon but I can only get max 4 hours per day and it takes about 20-30 hours normally to edit together one of these video blogs... soon though, soon I won't leave this story unfinished, it might just take another year to tell
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Old 04-21-2013, 12:36 AM   #82
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May 31-Jun 1 2012 - Leaving Can Jou, bound for Croatia to reunite with Nicole

May 31-Jun 1 2012 - Can Jou, Catalunya - Piacenza, Italy - Opatija, Croatia - 1400km

I woke up feeling groggy. You know the feeling. Like someone has rubbed sand in your eyes. Your face feels numb, your limbs disassociated from your body.

Originally my plan had been to leave at about 7am but I pushed that idea out a bit with every extra hour that I failed to fall asleep. At about 3am with thoughts still racing and no sign of sleep I booked another hostel in Genoa. It gave me a back-up option for the day ahead and at 150 km shorter than the originally planned 880 km to Piacenza it meant that I wouldn’t have to push myself if I didn’t have the energy. I was negotiating with my own mind, hoping this compromise would alleviate some tension and slow my thoughts enough to drift off to sleep. An hour later I was still compromising, booking a hostel 2000 km closer, this time in Nice, making it a total of 550 km for the next day. With the first signs of morning starting to show I packed my bags onto the bike in a haze.

5am, asleep finally, only to wake up about two and a half hours later. I struggled down a small breakfast of muesli, my appetite sapped from sleep deprivation. Hugs goodbye to Adina and Cammie. I hit the road. Half a dozen layers keeping me warm, a feeling of anxiousness diluted by my insomnia induced haze.

When riding long distances in a day I find it takes about a hundred k’s to get into a rhythm. After this you start to get into a groove and the 2nd hundred seems to take half as much time as the first. All until you reach the afternoon and fatigue starts to kick in.

This time I am 250 km in and already feeling groggy and fatigued. Stopping for an apple and to remove a couple of layers now that it has warmed up. Surprisingly the 15 minute break rejuvenates me. I have since heard a rumour that Apples are an alternative to caffeine and have similar energy boosting qualities. Some quick research however seems to point to this as just being a myth propagated by an agricultural lobby in the US.

Another 300 km until Nice, my first exit strategy from what seems to be a personal quest of endurance. Things start to brighten however and the circadian rhythm of my body must be making up for the lack of sleep. I start to feel good. By the time I reach a fuel station outside Nice I am confident that I can at least make it another 200 to Genoa. A few sandwiches and a quick kip and I am back on the road to Genoa.

Clouds set in as I head west and I pull over to put the banana suit on. A local trucker takes interest in me, he speaks a bit of Spanish. Our broken conversation goes along the lines of. I am travelling some 1400 km for a woman and he thinks I am crazy and should have just found a new one that was a bit closer.

Buoyed by my progress I seem to have enough left in the tank to make it to my original destination, Piacenza. It is late in the afternoon by the time I trundle in.

My bike in front of the hostel in Picenza

The hostel I stay in is a work in progress. After a chat with the owner I learn that they are employing many African refugees to help rebuild the hostel. Many of them have been there for long period of time, applying and reapplying for asylum with the assistance of the owners. Originally British they complain of the bureaucracy of the local government and how it is very difficult to get anything done. She tells me that there have been earthquakes a few 100 km away just the day earlier. Not something I am keen to hear. The thought of the tarmac shifting a metre sideways whilst I am hurtling along at 130 clicks doesn’t appeal to me.

There are only a few other backpackers there. They are all walking a Catholic pilgrimage to Rome and we exchange war stories over dinner. After a couple of glasses of wine I am shot and have very little trouble getting to sleep.

I wake refreshed and eager to get away from whatever geological fault line underlies this part of Italy. It seems to be poor weather but it is hard to tell from the smog that hangs in the air over northern Italy. I vaguely remember someone earlier in my first trip to Italy telling me that there is a period of the year where northern Italy might as well be avoided thanks to thick smog. Perhaps this is that time of year, luckily I’m not interested in the sights. One thought is motivating me, reaching Nicole in Croatia and being free to explore the Balkans for the coming months.

Stopping for a quick chat to the Camera about how I am feeling, for the video part of this blog...

At this stage I have no idea what Eastern Europe, particularly the Balkans is going to be like. When I was young I grew up with Croatian family friends in Australia. We used to play soccer at the Croatian Soccer Club and I only vaguely knew that their parents had come to Australia because of war. That and the Croatians hated the Serbians for some reason. Everything else I knew was from heresay and stereotypes.

Crossing the border into Slovenia

Crossing the border into Slovenia it started bucketing with Rain and I could barely see the road. There is a very short distance to cross here before you make it to Croatia. It would be my first time crossing a non-shengen border with the motorbike and I was curious to see how it would go.

It went smoothly, they stamped my passport and didn’t even request papers for the bike. My first issue was about 15 km down the road when I came across a toll road, despite my GPS being set to go around tolls. Without any Croatian Kuna I was worried about how I would pay. Apparently this happens often though, and they were happy to accept my Euros.

1400 km and 2 days later I had made it to Opatija. Nicole was out the front of our hotel, eagerly awaiting my arrival. After what we had both put ourselves through to get to that point, it was just good to be back together.

The view from our Hotel room in Opatija
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:29 PM   #83
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Thumb Nice update...

It is great to have you back with another installment. Was beginning to worry that you had fallen off the map. I enjoyed the written report of your time in Can Jou. You provided a lot of detail as to what it was like working there plus good background as to the various characters. Sorry to hear of the stress and anxiety you faced during that time. I am looking forward to future video installments. They are a real treat!

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Old 05-13-2013, 08:14 AM   #84
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enjoyed the update, looking forward to the next reports as the balkan is my destination this summer
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