Last Thursday the day had come to pack up our stuff and take the 1250km drive to our new home.
🔗A new car
Because the village is impossible to access with a normal car (max width 180cm) and there was a lot work in the house (getting rid of stuff left by the previous owner, building new floors, ...) I ended up buying a new car in Belgium.
The requirements for the car were for it to fit and be able to tow heavy loads (+1500kg) and 4x4 drive. Bonus points for a car with scratches as I knew it was going to take a beating with the planned usage.
After quite some digging I discovered that there was an SX (small trim) version of the Fiat Fullback that met all criteria. Did you know there are sites to compare the dimensions of different cars?
Now I know what I wanted I needed to find a 2nd hand Fiat Fullback for sale. Because I needed this specific trim (SX) I had to look hard and discovered that throughout Europe there are only about 10 of those cars available on the major 2nd hand car websites.
I got lucky with a black version being readily available and went for a visit and bought the car on the spot. The only downside: no automatically foldable mirrors which I figured I could fix using after-market components.
As we now had 2 cars it was easier to plan the final move. We had to move 3 of our children and 7 chickens. Preferably alive.
I spent all Wednesday loading the cars. Figured that chances for the chickens to survive would be higher inside the car 😱 . My brother and I constructed a compartment on the backseat of the Pickup.
After about 800km, which went very smooth, we decided to spend the night in a hotel. We needed to find a place with a garden so we could de-stress the chickens. Talked to the owner and agreed to give them some room at the back of the hotel with the portable fence I took with us.
The night in the hotel turned out to be terrible. Both Annelies and I only slept for a few hours as it was crazy hot (somewhere around Limoges) and our room did not have AC and the window was situated next to a busy road. 😴 The only good news is that I was fully caffeinated and ready to go at around 6:30.
On Friday we had the most beautiful part of the trip in front of us passing through the Pyrenees to end up on the Spanish side.
We arrived in the Village around 14:00 where I was getting increasingly nervous about the final 300 meters. Will it fit?
As I was loaded with so much stuff I was destined to drive the car to the front of the house. Some of the villagers discouraged me as they thought the car would not fit but it did. Just one minor scratch :-)
🔗The first days - Basics
The plan for the first days was to make sure the basics work (warm water, electricity), clean the house, make sure the children have a nice room and create the space able to unpack all of the boxes.
Because no one has lived in the house for almost 7 years it needed a deep clean which took much longer than we anticipated. My Mom decided that she wanted to come by and help us out during her Holiday. This helped a lot and allowed me and Annelies to spend time on other essentials.
After a trip to Ikea (a 3-hour drive to Barcelona) and using some of the things we brought from Belgium (beds, bedframes) we managed to give the children a room they are all quite happy with.
The rest of the time was spent cleaning up the garden, taking out trash left by the previous owner and removing old/outdated cabling and satellites or antennas mounted on the outside of the home.
A timelapse of cleaning up the garden:
Additionally, we made sure to create enough time to enjoy the surroundings. With the kids we took the SUP to the lake three times, enjoyed a Wim Hof-style cold bath under the village waterfall (11 degrees) and spent some time around local restaurants. ❤️
🔗The good and bad
As everything still feels like a holiday it's too early to draw any conclusions. There has been quite a bit of emotions around the idea that this is permanent. For now, I was able to turn around the mood by doing something fun.
Although the temperature is around 35 degrees it doesn't feel that hot. There is a constant breeze and the cold lake in front of the house acts like a huge airconditioner. It cools down quite a lot at night and there are not that many mosquitos. A lot of flies though!
Anyway, too early to evaluate. What I can say is that life slows down a lot here. As I'm writing this the kids are playing in the lake in front of the house and everything is so quiet. Everyone you talk to in the village looks like they have all the time in the world and are genuinely interested in understanding how we're experiencing the move.
That's it for this update. Another one next Friday?