Van Life In Portugal, 2020


It’s been one month now and I sit here on a campsite (my first in a while), 7am, blaring out Frank Sinatra’s My Way on my Bluetooth speaker. It has an electric hook-up and running water, which is a warm welcome after my usual, water-saving one minute soakings. I’m here for just two days, but the security brings a peace of mind, especially after hearing some recent stories about rebels banging, kicking and threatening van lifers (but we’ll get to that later).

Yesterday I drove through the mountains. I got stuck. Real stuck.

Mountain Clay Fail

It was a shaky moment as I drove off the road on what looked to be a gravel layby, however several metres after leaving the road my van sank deep into what turned out to be clay. The wheels were about 30-40% in at the front. I jumped out and as I walked, thick clay sucked my feet into the ground. I let the van be for a second as there were no cars coming past in what was a very desolate area. I grabbed all the branches I could find and made a makeshift “track” back towards the road from them (cutting my hand open in the meantime), which was a good 12-15 metres due to the turning circle. I jumped back in, revved the engine high and dropped the clutch into second gear, clay spraying everywhere and the engine roaring to life. As I moved towards the road, I saw a huge kerb back to the tarmac, bigger than average with a dip filled with water just before. I couldn’t stop now, or could find myself in a worse situation. I gritted my teeth and slammed hard into it. The front of the van flew up into the air and touched down to the road, and as it pelted forward, the back made a huge BANG sound. Plants and pictures flew off the walls, cupboards emptied their contents and I dreaded to think what the underside of my van looked like. Surely the tyres didn’t survive? Did my LPG tank hit the edge? I had to drive about 3 miles before I could find out, as there were no places to pull in. My hand dripping with blood by now, running all over the place. My seatbelt bleeper reminding me to buckle off incessantly banging on. I finally found somewhere to stop (a dirt road) and fortunately there was no external damage, just a messy inside! I was a bit shaky so decided to sit down to meditate. I draw in one deep breath, and *BEEP BEEP BEEP* – a 4×4 had come out of nowhere and wanted me to move 😂

It’s these stories that make up my month here in Portugal (and a bit of Spain), which has flown by. In fact, I did plan on blogging regularly but simultaneously living the pace of van life, soaking in sights, making incredible connections and still running my company (managing a team of 12 people) has seen me choose very wisely how to spend my time. In fact, right now I don’t think I can really put everything into words. A LOT has happened and the only way I can think of condensing it is through a video, so here we go. The Clueless Camper has returned! (with bonus gallery of my adventures below).

In my new van, Alegria! And on the road in Portugal.

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