I think we knew deep down that our van wasn’t coming back from this. He’d lost too much
blood oil for it to be an innocent glitch. “Your van is kaputt!” said the mechanic, grimly, and as my dad says: bad news is the same in any language.
It’s been a strange three days of feeling very hectic whilst simultaneously sitting around waiting for phone-calls from the insurance company. I didn’t want to leave the van in Hungary; we’d put so much love (and money) into our adventure. We’d put so much time into making him a home. But it turns out to be pretty expensive to ship a broken old van back to England.
Once we got the news that a tow truck was coming to pick us up we had about an hour to pack. We unscrewed the solar panel from the roof and undid all the electric parts that Josh had studied and put together himself. We packed up all we could and finished the rest on the side of the road opposite the hotel, writing my address on cardboard boxes of switches, camping equipment and wiring to be sent to us later as our van hung by his hind legs. Our tow truck driver gave me cigarettes and we smoked in the thirty degree heat as I explained that the word for this in our language is “fucked”. (I hope he realised that the Heineken I gave him when we were clearing out was alcohol-free, othereise he’s in for a nasty shock.)
It is 8.45PM and we are in our hotel room, with flights booked for tomorrow. I’ve realised that true happiness is being able to take a shower without needing to put a token in a meter or hastily shaving my toes whilst an impatient family waits their turn outside. The WiFi is really fast! But also the true meaning of happiness is climbing across the rocks of a little island, cycling really fast through the forest and not dying, cooking yourself octopus tentacles in a car park and taking ridiculous jumping photos with the person you love.
We are coming back a month earlier than we’d planned, but it’s ok. I’ve had a brilliant, stressful, uncomfortable, wonderful seven weeks. Despite all our stuff getting nicked, I feel really glad that I went on this adventure and really lucky that Josh was here with me. He’s been amazing, and even when he’s not amazing we can laugh about it later. We can laugh about all of this later. I feel lucky to know so many great people who offered us help when we were in trouble (thank you Kat for the suitcases and your kindness). Because of this I don’t completely feel like we’re coming back to a post apocalyptic wasteland of despair.
RIP Harrison. You were our home and it’s going to feel weird not sleeping in your dark, womblike belly anymore. We’re so proud that you made it nearly 6,000 miles across seven countries and you did it all with dents in your side and an adequate stereo system. We hope you find peace in the scrapyard.
See you in England, everyone else.