Thursday, 13 March 2014

Caceres to Banos de Montemayor, Spain

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts” -Yvon Chouinard

It was quite a chilly morning in the hills after the heat of the day before. It always seems to get colder just before the dawn. I opted to switch on my Mikuni diesel heater. I don't use it often as its quite hard on the battery although its very effective, but its perfect when I am actually on a trip, driving every day to keep the battery topped up fully. After 10 minutes or so, the van was pleasantly warm inside and I was feeling like getting up.

 After a cup of coffee sitting on the rocks, I got things organised and set my GPS for todays chosen destination of Palencia, a place I've stayed before just within the town, and with some facilities and allocated parking for campers. The ideal place for a last night before the final drive to the ferry. I got on the road and soon I was bouncing along the dusty gravel leaving clouds of it behind me like horses in some spaghetti western..

It wasn't long, though, until I was on the motorway and scanning through the Spanish radio stations for something to listen to. One thing I've noticed is that there are a lot more Spanish songs on the Radio than in English or other languages, whereas in Portugal there are a lot more familiar tunes being played, there's obviously a thriving popular music scene in Spain. Portugal had a traditional music station I heard but the rest played stuff from rock to dance quite familiar to me. Any comments on this?

Passed this ominous looking 30ft tall bull by the roadside..

Not long after taking this photograph I noticed the temp gauge creeping up above the half-way position were it usually resides all the time. Thinking it was just the hills and the heat I carried on, but then it suddenly went up even more. I pulled in to take a look and there was steam coming from the engine and water dripping onto the roadside below! It didn't appear to be any of the hoses so I feared the worst. After topping up the engine with about 6 litres of water from my kitchen I got back on the road, hoping that the leak would be small enough to keep me going with the odd top up stop, but within about 5km the gauge was climbing again..

I put another 5 litres in to the engine and limped to a service station which was quite by chance right where I needed it to be. By the time I got there I could hear the steam again, so I got my info together and called the rescue service, sigh, I wasn't going to make it to Palencia today.. What was wrong? After a wait on my fisherman's stool in the shade, looking at the view of the mountains, the recovery guys arrived, and it was handy to remember the word 'Agua' and point to the pool beside the van. It wasn't long until this was the scene..

 On the back of a tow truck - again!

Got to laugh really, there is nothing else for it. So I got taken to a small village with not a lot going on and then the mechanics went off for siesta leaving me to chill out in the sun with the side door of the van open, reflecting on the new circumstances I found myself in - was I not saying just yesterday that the story of a planned future is just that, and can change with the wind, well here I am.

Not the view I really wanted from my camper today

 Goin' nowhere fast..

When they returned from the break and after a few phone calls were being made in Spanish, we were off again to another town, to a garage that could diagnose and fix the problem. I was in pretty good form despite all this, as the sunshine always has that affect on me - thats one big reason for even being here in the first place this winter. Also having had a worse experience on the way here made this seem like a minor set back, although I am not what you could call happy about it at all. Still you can't fight it, so I went with the flow..

 Snow capped mountains and sun scorched valleys as seen from the recovery truck.

I don't really know how far we drove but I've ended up at a large workshop and car showroom with many mechanics and a dude in charge with gelled back hair, but all is really professional and slick here. They soon had the van over the pit and were using mirrors and more water to diagnose the leak - it appears to be the water pump has gone but to be sure they need to take it off and see. That's already underway and they'll get back to it in the morning.

 Water trickling from the engine..

So it looks like a few nights maybe on a forecourt is again the order of the day. I've got wifi, thanks to the garage boss, and they are letting me stay here until its repaired and I can get on my way. Seems like a nice town too and there will be all I need here - great weather too of course. I have a weeks supply of tinned and dry food under the seat for emergencies and acts of God, so to save money I can rely mostly on that. Water and toilets in the garage. I don't need much - I'll get to experience life in Spain for a while.

A view through my dusty window earlier this afternoon before we wheeled the Hiace outside. Me inside on Facebook and Skype to friends, home from home.

Yes I've broken down and will miss the ferry back to GB but, the rescheduling fee is covered by the insurance and I have my house here, so nowhere to go really. I am also a great curiosity for the visitors to the garage and the Hiace attracts a lot of interest, nods and smiles too to the Irish guy living in the workshop. Wish me luck for the full diagnosis tomorrow morning my friends.

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  1. Good luck Chris sounds like water pump hopefully you'll be on your way soon soon

  2. Thanks Matt, thats the plan, but I've learned not to be too stuck on planning on this trip - finger crossed..

  3. Hello Chris am enjoying you travel blogs. Can i just ask what breakdown cover you use and what sort of restrictions are there. Best of luck. Simon C.

  4. Hi Simon, The breakdown cover I have is through Equity Red Star. It came as standard with my motorhome cover through Adrian Flux Insurance. It has turned out to be an excellent breakdown service, and the staff I have dealt with are more than helpful. I will need to check the details of the restrictions. I am thinking of doing a post on breakdown cover, as its turned out to be something I've now used twice in the past few months, and I have been lucky with the cover I just happened to have. Certainly for peace of mind travelling abroad, I will be looking into this in more depth, and of course share it here. Thanks, Chris

  5. Hi Simon, I've been reading through the breakdown cover policy again. Its a reassuring read. If you're interested, contact me and I will email you the pdf file. I will at some point do a post on my experiences with this, as I'm sure it'll be useful info for others thinking of heading across to mainland Europe. All the best, Chris

  6. Hello again hope you van gets fixed soon. Just one other thing about you breakdown cover is there a time limit for you being out of the uk. Thanks Simon S