When full time travel goes very wrong

Motorhome travelling in Spain Pt 2

After 4 months of our European travels, meeting up with our Argentinian travel friends again and our little side adventure to Andorra we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. We’d learned to relax, slow down and say “yes” more often. The travel life was becoming our ‘normal’, the motorhome was our safe place and we loved it! Life was good.

Stevie in the snowy Pyrenees

We took a slow drive down from Andorra through the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and Catalonian countryside. The snow capped mountains and ski resorts were another side of Spain that we hadn’t anticipated. After a couple of nights up in the mountains we started to head back to Cubelles to say goodbye to our friends and carry on our journey south to explore more of Spain. We took our time meandering down the mountain roads, enjoying the views and stopping here and there for photos, to do some laundry and have a relaxed lunch. Then disaster struck. With a ‘crack’ a huge bit of one of my back teeth came off during a meal. What were we going to do? I certainly couldn’t leave it like that and it was painful. We scoured through our travel insurance to see if dental work was covered. Thankfully emergency dental work was, so the next step was to find an English speaking dentist near us in Spain. We try to speak as much of the language as we can when we visit other countries but medical things need to be clearly explained. A really helpful dental clinic in Sitges welcomed me and within half an hour my tooth was fixed and we were back on the road. Disaster averted. Phew!

Our Spanish friends & their ‘van friends’ were having a BBQ that weekend and invited us to join them to try ‘Calçots’: a Catalonian delicacy of barbecued giant spring onions with a traditional sauce. With our new travel mindset in full swing, of course, we enthusiastically said “Yes” and we were very glad we did. It was a fantastic afternoon that we won’t forget; full of food, drinks, music and multi lingual conversation with old and new friends. We stayed in the car park overnight and decided that the next day we would definitely be heading south, for sure this time! Cubelles was becoming our Bermuda triangle. Would we ever leave?

Spanish vanlife crew

The following day we parked up at the supermarket next to our friend’s garage to fill up supplies and do some laundry in the public machines outside the shop (a big thank you to whoever thought of that idea!). We were back and forth from the shop to the van, laughing and joking with our friend Cony who had also come to do some laundry. We’d been in the shop about 20 minutes when I returned with our groceries to find that the van looked really messy. I’m sure we hadn’t left it like this. I looked again and noticed that Theodore’s cat tree was broken in half. I shouted to Callum to come and look. Oh no! Someone had been in our van. We’d been broken into!! Panic started. Where was Theodore? He didn’t come out to greet me when I called. What if he’d escaped and run away when they broke in? After frantically looking for him we found him curled up under a blanket in the corner of the cab bed. Shaking. He was absolutely petrified. Cupboards had been ransacked, water spilled & our things were everywhere. As we looked more we noticed that some things were missing. Callum’s laptop (& my laptop charger), our drone, a video camera, tripod and other electronics were gone. Thankfully our passports and paperwork were still hidden away & we were all safe but the shock had started to dissipate into anger and sadness.

We examined the van further to find that they had forced the front door lock with a screwdriver to gain entry. So simple yet brutally effective. In 20 minutes they’d taken over £3,000 worth of electronics (plus my make up bag and other random pieces). Cony phoned the police, they came quickly to take photos and statements. We all went to the police station. Everyone was helpful and calm. Cony was kind enough to translate for us. The next step was to contact the insurance companies (we have one for travel insurance & one for van insurance). The travel insurance didn’t cover the electronics but thankfully the van insurance did!

Our first priority was to get the lock replaced so that the van was secure again. Our new friend José organised that for us, plus extra security locks. One less thing we had to think about. After toing and froing with the insurance company they agreed to pay to replace the laptop, drone and tripod but we would have to pay for the new locks. We got no sleep that night and I had nightmares for a good few weeks afterwards. Our lovely home, our safe place, had been desecrated. Every noise and movement outside the van made me sit upright in bed. Theodore was still terrified. He would only come to me, wary of men now, he didn’t even want to be near Callum.

A terrified Theodore

A couple of days later we had moved on to a secure camper stop down the road when we got a message from José to say that the van of one of his employees had also been broken into overnight. It was parked just outside of the garage whilst they were inside working. They had taken his laptop too but the bag also contained his passport, certificates and all his official paperwork from his hometown in Germany. He would have to go back to Germany to apply for copies of them all again. What a nightmare. José was now on the case as detective, talking to everyone who worked in that are. He found some security camera footage from a store overlooking the supermarket. It showed a car pulling up next to our motorhome. One man broke in then came back out to jump back into the car. They drove the car around the block & then two men come back to the van with bags. They enter the motorhome again and walk away with £3,000 worth of OUR posessions. As easy as that. The video has been sent to the police but as yet (6 months later) that’s the last we heard from them.

Once the new locks were on we finally said goodbye to our friends. They were sad too that our van had been broken into but also because this had happened in their neighbourhood, where we had been treated so well before this. We will always remember Cubelles as the place where we made new friends and had fun times together but we are now much more careful every time we leave the van, even for a few minutes. It was certainly one of the lowest points of our travel journey so far, but being the only awful thing to happen in 4 months of travel through 16 countries isn’t bad going & at least we were all safe and still together.

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