What international trip wouldn’t be complete without a crazy excursion? Whilst my responsibilities lie within my volunteering role and the activities I have outlined to you already, EVS is about many more things too. In my 6 weeks in Aviles I have learnt to get around the city alone, frequented most cafes/bars and enjoyed its beautiful sites. I have also been to the two other main Asturian cities; Oviedo and Gijon. However Asturias boasts many other beautiful places to see, but unfortunately they are not all so accessible. This post will talk you through my challenging trip to the mountains last Sunday.
I knew before I flew here that transport may be an issue to seeing the best sites. So much so that I looked into bringing my car on the boat, but this was too expensive for my program (or me) to afford. Having been here 6 weeks now and having maxed out the bus and trains routes to the beach and other cities, it was time to go into ‘challenge’ mode.
My mentor here is Ruben; a local Spanish guy who looks like a Viking and works on the streets for the Red Cross. He is a top bloke and we have had some interestingly hardcore political chats. Seems we both like revolutions and changing the world. Anyway, Ruben started looking for a van and a ramp to get me mobile. We even visited a local disability organisation to try their ramp and I nearly tipped my chair over in testing this out.
Eventually Ruben settled on the best location we should visit. Its a collective group of people running a sustainable house in the mountains. The idea was we would get the train to ‘Polo de Lena’, the guys there had a van, we had a ramp from another store and the place was high up in the mountains – so it’d be a beautiful view and I would get to meet cool people.
At 10am Filipe, Ruben, Athina, Vinka and I (after my heavy night drinking Jack Daniels) set off. Unfortunately the weather here has been awful for a couple of weeks now. It turns out Asturias is the UK weather-wise, but in Spain. So I put my cape over me and the chair (I look like a giant condom) and off we went. We arrived at Pollo de Lena around 1pm. The 2 girls who arrived in the van were tattooed and pierced to the hills, and I could tell the whole day was going to be different to the norm. On driving up the ramp it became apparent the van wasn’t tall enough for me! So, Filipe lifted me into the front seat. After getting my comfort and balance, he headed back to fold the chair and get it in. I had assumed the driver was Spanish. Then on speaking to me, it turned out she was from Southport in England!! Small world or what…
Once we were loaded we headed up the mountains with vegetable oil powering this old van, and the windscreen steaming up. It was such a shame the rain was falling so hard because the views would have been even more spectacular I am sure. It reminded me of when Chris and I drove to Wales a few years back and nearly hit a stationery sheep up a mountain. It was so green, fertile and the height gave an amazing vantage point of this beautiful Spanish region.
We arrived, got me and the chair out of the van and bumped me up 2 steps into the house. You can see some pictures and read about the project here http://escandaronzon.wordpress.com/. Despite the lack of views and sunshine, I had an amazing time. It was so interesting how the collective formed, the many different people who pass through, their values and their activism against the norm. I cannot imagine myself living their due to accessibility and my inability to eat healthy food, however I totally got their mindsets. They also seemed to enjoy listening to my online activism and my attempts to change the world on disability issues.
I don’t think I will be back there now before I leave, but I hope to one day. I do plan to manage another mountain trip before May 4th. Fingers crossed that this rain will stop and the sun will come out. Either way this was just another amazing life experience to add to my belt! Onwards and upwards 🙂