It’s been just about one month exactly since we landed in this place called Benicàssim. Originally, we came here to go to the Rototom Sunsplash festival for my birthday week. After the festival, we had it in our mind that we should, perhaps, go to Madrid.
My son was feeling that he wasn’t getting enough choice in our destinations and Madrid felt like somewhere that he wanted to go. So I said okay, but I somehow wasn’t in full belief that we were actually going. It was more like a question at that point.
After coming off of the festival, which was a thing, we spent a night in a boutique hotel with my friend Tati for her birthday. I remember waking up that next morning, walking her to the meeting point where she would meet her ride and head back to the land of the Alpujarras. I walked back to our cute little hotel, to our room on the 3rd floor, which had a balcony big enough for practicing yoga, and faced the Desert de las Palmas, and looked down on the cutest little pueblo I ever did see this whole time in Spain and remember thinking:
I looked at my son and acknowledged that we were both exhausted. We had literally gone from Barcelona-Tossa del Mar-Figueres-Riumar-Alicante-Granada-Orgiva-Granada-Cartegena-Benicàssim within approximately 45 days time. We were moving so fast, so very fast. Somehow, someway we needed to get a grip and slow down. There was no way we were going to Madrid today or to a new workaway quite yet.
Just the night before, he said he liked it here. In fact, he had managed to make a friend while we were chilling at a cafe, lord knows he was craving and probably truly needed some peers to kick it with for a moment.
I looked at him again and said, “We both like it here, maybe we should stay here for awhile?”
He looked back at me with peace in his face and said, “Ok.”
I spent the next day visiting the local inmobiliarias (rental agencies). Benicàssim, in addition, to being a very cute pueblo, was also a place where lots of people come to vacation for the entire summer and monthly rentals were slightly more possible here.
I wasn’t necessarily excited about the idea of living in one of the high rises along the ocean, that felt too boxy for me. I would love to live right in the pueblo, or I decided, a cottage or bungalow that was close to the beach.
I walked around the town, taking in as much as I could, and began imagining living a normal life here for awhile. They had a rec center, they had blues dancing, mediation offerings, films and concerts on the beach–what more could we possibly ask for?
I visited these places and got three no’s. Then I visited another one, and the guy, Jordi (such a cute name and soul), gave me a link to a legitimate opportunity: The Orange Bungalows.
The major crux in this whole-finding-an apartment-thing was the fact that we were still in a hotel and it was expensive. I could have blown one month’s rent in 2-3 days if we stayed there any longer. We had to find a temporary abode.
So, of course I checked out Airbnb. Surprisingly, there were not a lot of offerings. But there were some in the town, Castellon, and some places in between. Hmmm, Castellon, I wondered what that place was about…maybe we’d like it there more?
In my effort to give my son some more power in choice, I had him look for some Airbnb’s and in an effort to not repeat the Granada fiasco, he picked some solid choices and I narrowed it down to a few, he narrowed it down to two: One, an apartment in Castellon, it would be a shared room experience in what looked like a pretty nice condo, and the other, a shared room experience in a villa in between Castellon and Benicàssim, whose description was Rototom friendly and was also a part of an ecological wetland preserve that had endangered species?! Hmm.
Well, I looked them both over equally, and although in a questionable location, I chose the villa in the wetlands between Benicàssim and Castellon. So on the second day of recovery from the festival, the son and I out set out in a taxi, going to who knows where, in a place that was way more affordable at least for the rest of the week. A place to stay that would give us enough time to find another place to stay.
We’re driving through Benicàssim and then we’re on a highway, the terrain changes from high rise condos to green pastures, canals, and dirt roads. We take a right on the second or third dirt road, which is when I got totally scared, and thought to myself:
Even the taxi driver seemed confused. The exact address wasn’t apparent, but he dropped us off in the middle of the dirt like road and said, I think if you walk that way you’ll find it.
Okay, I’m thinking. All righty. Vamos!
So we walk past about 8 houses and arrive at a gate, with a bush of gardenias in the front. We ring the doorbell and are greeted by the sweetest woman whose villa is actually like a little farm. There is an outdoor kitchen, a pool, a beautiful garden, a way more expansive view of the Desert de las Palmas, a private bathroom and a room on the lower level of the villa.
Wow, I was surprised. It was pretty dang amazing, like actually, astoundingly amazing!
But, I was still searching. Insistent on searching.
They had two bikes at the villa, that in itself was the greatest dream come true–I was missing my bike! When we arrived, I was quite fearful we were going to be stuck. Not with bikes!
So, thus became the mission, ride around, get a lay of the land, check out Castellon, and check out the Orange Bungalows so that we could make a decision about where to live for potentially a month or more.
That first ride, I was obsessed with getting food. In fact, upon arrival, I was freaked out we weren’t going to have any food. There weren’t any restaurants or grocery stores in the immediate proximity. All that stuff was going to be at least a good 15 minute or more bike ride away.
Our friendly hosts pointed me in the direction of “El Grao,” which is also a tiny pueblo nestled between these two towns on the coastline and is a pier town.
It was a fascinating and thrilling bike ride. Before I got food, I had to check out some stuff, the main street in the village was appealing, pretty sure I was there at siesta, because it was quiet. I also got “lost” behind the first school I had actually acknowledged to see in Spain and ended up in more of the wetlands, seeing cranes and some other cool tiny creatures.
Then I landed on what I think was a major roadway, looked to my right and in the distance I saw a huge city–it felt kind of like a Wizard of Ozish moment, when alas they arrive to the Emerald City.
Except this looked like anything but the Emerald City. It looked dark, depressing, and really big. One look and my guts told me, “No. We are not going to be living there.”
Fast forward a couple of days into our staying at the villa. I was in one of those transitionary panic moments again, but I was riding my bike and going to the ocean everyday. I also noticed there was another bedroom in the villa that was not being used.
Suddenly, I was looking around at my environment, feeling so incredibly happy to be there. It had everything I really wanted in my life at the time–nature, the beach, access to the city and culture (I just couldn’t be lazy if I wanted to live here–biking and walking were absolutely required here).
And somewhere between watching the goats and sheep being herded everyday, seeing loads and loads of butterflies, the greenest grass, and the magic of a mountain that reminded me of Crestone, Colorado. I even projected it on my Instagram Feed,
“When you stop searching, you just may find you’re already exactly where you want to be and are supposed to be. “
After finding out from the immolbaria that rent at the Orange Bungalows (which were quite cute) was going to be 900 Euros for two weeks and then would drop to 300 come mid-September. And a morning of meditation and communing with my Spirit Guides, I got a clear vision and that was to ask our Airbnb people to extend our stay here. To offer them a rate and see what they would say.
Oh, also, they didn’t speak a lot of English, I had to dig deep on my Spanish communication skills to get this one going. It turned out to be really easy, they said yes. We could have two bedrooms, two bikes to use, a private bathroom and access to the kitchen and pool everyday. I gave them a generous offer, but it felt fair, reasonable, right, and way cheaper than anything back home!
Needless to say, allowing myself to be, asking for what I want, surrendering my attachment to what I think this trip is supposed to be, and allowing the answers to come has given my son and I one of the best moments of this Spanish expedition. An opportunity to rest, download and reset ourselves. As well as expansive time to practice, create, produce and discover.
Apparently, this is what WorldSchoolers call “Slow Travel.”
This is all good in my hood. I love this hood.
P.s. If you’re wondering if there is anything hard about living here. There is. It’s called mosquitoes, not so much hot water, showering with only a showerhead that you have to hold, biking/walking everywhere, and feelings of isolation. Honestly, I can deal with all of that in trade for everything else. I’m so glad we decided to stay here. #Humbled #Gratitude #Practice #Presence #Love
Stay Tuned For–>
My Love Letters to Granada and Benicàssim!
How I’ll Never Choose to Live Alone with My Son Again: The Benefits of Co-operative/Communal Living