December 19, 2011

by Dennis Liaw in Tarifa, Spain

As I write this post we are currently cruising down from the Pyrenees halfway across Spain on the way to Tarifa, still about 6 hours down route. So much has already gone on during this trip that there’s a lot of mental traffic going on trying to prioritize what I should start with. London freaking rocks. I want to set another trip just for that place alone. The people there are awesome and it’s beautiful. I got a chance to drive the ambulance through the city when we were heading to Dover, and coming from New York it’s really hard to explain how mind bogglingly polite everyone is on the roads out there. Although every time we passed by trucks they’d always flash us, and we still have no clue why, because it hasn’t happened in any other country. I was asleep for most of the boarding process leading into the ferry to France, and the ride was pretty uneventful, so after another nap I woke up as we entered the city limits of Paris at about six thirty in the morning. The city was still pretty active at that hour but not so much that we couldn’t park and get some cool photos around some big landmarks in the city.

So far the only French I’ve picked up relates to explaining that I needed fuel for the ambulance. We couldn’t stay for long unfortunately as we were on a deadline to make it to Gibraltar in a day, and with 1200 miles of distance to cover it was hard to stay relaxed. To make better time, we’ve been alternating with a driver/navigator in front, and two people resting in the back. After passing Orleans, I hopped into my sleeping bag in the back and tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep. As a driver any swaying or bumps in the ambulance make your mind go all over the place with concern. It also didn’t help that at some point around Bayonne I was flung into the air while everything in the side shelves and cabinets fell all over me and I heard Mike freaking out next to me. Looking out the back of the ambulance all I saw were lights moving in all kinds of directions back and forth as the ambulance was swerving out of control. All I was thinking about at this point was in what direction I was supposed to brace for impact, as I was certain we had gone off the road and would either be rolling shortly, or crashed somewhere. Thankfully though the ambulance was back under control and all I could do was just bury my face into the air mattress and be thankful that I wasn’t going to miss my 25th birthday. For some reason I had Bob Dylan’s ‘Blowing in the Wind’ playing in my head, and really when asked “how many roads does a man have to take before you can call him a man?” I think the answer is just one; whatever the hell road it was ascending the Pyrenees that we almost ended the trip on. Mainly because we got over it pretty quick after calming our nerves with some dinner(and my malaria pills for dessert), and I pretty much slept like a baby knowing we left the reaper hanging somewhere back on those mountains. In that time I was told that we drove through a crazy snow storm crossing into Spain, which I completely slept through, so I was pretty confident that we had the rest of the range conquered.

The next morning we navigated the rest of the way down the range, driving through the cloud line, down the same road. It wasn’t until then that I recalled the warning from the guys at the dock about crossing the Pyrenees. It’s not exactly the Jackie Robinson Parkway, but at high speeds with two lanes snaking down a mountain range, it does force you to pay attention. We’re closing into Seville at the moment, and with the trip barely halfway through, I think we’re off to a good start. I’m a little annoyed that we didn’t get a stamp for France, and they didn’t even check our passports for Spain (there wasn’t even a border gate), but if anything I’ve already got some very keen memories to take home with me.