On the anniversary of my dad’s death, I’m travelling to Spain, by ship from Portsmouth to Santander, and I am offering Shiatsu in return for bed and breakfast. I have little in the way of a plan, wanting to be able to respond to offers and opportunities which arise day-to-day, an antidote to my usual schedule. It’s space, spontaneity and a greater peace of mind I am seeking.
25 Hours on a boat means that the day’s walks are short, or at best, circular. After a night of listening to continual coughing, I wasn’t up to much more than my morning Salutations to the Sun and multiple circuits of deck 9. It was hot and windy, but it made more sense to be watching the water go by than be whizzed up in a plane and miss the landscape I am travelling over.
The kids will tell you that I’m always hoping to see a whale or dolphin and never have. It turns out that on this massive ship they announce sightings over the tannoy, because suddenly everyone rushes starboard. We watch the spurts and watery shadows from a distance, but sadly there are any no spectacular leaps.
Be careful if you want to travel like this without a car! On some boats you can only go if you take a cabin, and that adds considerably to the cost; on others you can take a ‘reclining seat’, but it still ends up being nearly double the initial advertised cost.
Half way through the journey I still didn’t have anywhere to stay when I arrived in Santander. In response to other’s kindly concerns about my welfare, I had several times abandoned my aim of responding to offers and opportunities and tried to plan in advance, only for those early ideas to be scuppered by outside forces (eg no foot passengers allowed on certain boats).
Anyway that approach was too much like hard work and exactly the habitual way of being which I was trying to challenge. Nevertheless I was starting to wonder if I would have to spend my first night in a hostel, when I got a message from the wonderful Gill, giving me the number of Rosa in Santander who identifies with my idea. After only a few messages, her husband Manolo has promised to meet me off the boat and, after months of waiting, I can see land ahead.