Portugal is next door to Spain. I had reckoned that as I was in Spain already, I could easily bob over into Portugal and do a few shows. I didn’t take the size of Spain into account and realised pretty soon that it was going to be a long drive.
My place of dwelling was just inwards from the north east side of the Iberian Peninsula, and I was headed for the very west of it, the coast of Portugal. The drive was taken at a snails pace, stopping numerous time en route. I slept in Salamanca. I did my laundry in the hotel sink and draped it all around the room to dry. I perused the local shops and bought myself some dungarees (god knows why). I’d factored in my need for sleep and ‘corn based snack’ stops, and left myself a good few days in which to undertake the long journey. My drive from east to west was relaxed and pleasant, if a little warm.
The journey back was a different story.
Money was tight and I was feeling tense about having to book a ferry home on such a budget, not to mention petrol and food. Half way to Portugal, I got a phone call asking If I could be in Barcelona (east coast Spain) on the Sunday for a fairly well paid show. I had a gig in Porto (west coast Portugal) on the Friday. It was doable, I thought. I said yes. I needed the money.
So there I was in Porto on the Friday. Many people tell me that Porto is lovely. It is from Porto that Port originates. I hate port but I bought a bottle of it just because I felt like I should. I didn’t take to Porto. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Maybe it was because my sat nav didn’t recognise the existence of the place, and so I spent much of my time there driving around in circles. In any case, something bad must have happened inside my mind whilst I was there because I feel worried whenever I think back on it.
I woke up at 5am on the Saturday, ready to hit the road. Due to the promoter taking ages to pay me after the night before’s gig, I’d only had 3 hours sleep. The plan was to reach the Catalunyan boarder before the day was out. After shoving a croissant down my neck, I set off, driving east. Over the mountains and over the Spanish boarder. The sun beat down on my little air-condition-less car all morning and all afternoon. Hardly even stopping to eat, I drove and drove, determined to reach my destination before sun down. At one point I was even driving with my legs crossed. I’d put my left leg up underneath my right one but managed to keep pressure on the accelerator in a way I can’t really explain without showing you. In retrospect, I'm incredulous at the fact that I actually drove like that. I think that you become immune to the dangerous aspect of driving at 90 mph once you’ve been at it for more than a few hours.
More corn based snacks and coffee.
At least I had Neil Young. He kept me company via my car stereo and made me feel like everything was worthwhile.
It should have been an eleven hour drive but I made it in ten because I was playing ‘beat the sat nav’. This game solely entails speeding, so that you get to your destination faster than sat nav would calculate.
After a gruelling endurance test of a drive, I arrived at the edge of Catalunya. I parked, turned off the engine and peeled myself off the car seat to find that I could barely walk due to exhaustion and hunger. My hearing was shot due to the numerous hours of Neil Young.
It’s not because I love austerity that I drove, alone, for ten hours in an oven of a vehicle. It is not because I have little regard for my own well being, or because I have an unusually keen sense of adventure. It is not because I am hard either, or because I thought I might blog about it one day. It is because I am very driven (no pun intended) to play music. A large part of me would much rather stay at home, get a dog and stroll down the canal tow path everyday. I hope that my future will not be full of such alone-ness, tiredness or boiling-ness as that trip was. I’m not sure how to carry on with the life I have created for myself, it seems that it is not recognized as a valuable career, or a proper life path. I have certainly learned many things that you can't put down on paper, but my curriculum vitae is a disgrace and a disappointment. Sometimes I think I'm young enough to start something anew, but what else can I do? I often worry that I'm too impractical, but I can't be anything other than myself can I? We must all find a square hole for the square pegs that we are. I just hope that my square doesn't look like the N620 road through Spain again, and if it does, I hope that it matches someone else's square, and that they will come with me.