This morning Tara and I woke up feeling like death warmed over. My throat was so sore I could hardly swallow and Tara's nose continued its crusade of running like a leaky facuet. We laid around for an hour or so moaning to each other about our various aches and pains before finally willing ourselves out of bed to start the day. I got to work programming while Tara tidied up camp and prepared to head into town for groceries.
I've been keeping track of our spending in a simple excel file since we left. I recently added a new formula which tells us exactly how much we need to (or get to) spend on a given day to stay exactly on our target budget:
((Days on the Road+1)*Daily Budget)-(Actual Total Spent) = Return to Budget Amount
It is incredibly helpful and actually sort of entertaining to plan using this new formula. We have a daily cost of 8 to 12 for camping (in France) so that leaves us with 13 to 17 to spend on whatever we want. When we don't use it we get to watch as our surplus grows! Having a cushion for emergencies or for splurging on something extravagant and "wasteful" like a dinner out is really nice. Because the weight of each day gets lower and lower the longer we travel it was very annoying trying to estimate this in my head. Problem solved!
Tara set off with 12 to spend on food and I sat in the flower garden in the mid morning sun working on audit reporting (blaaahhh) for a client. While Tara was off replenishing our supplies, I attempted to use our new SFR dongle to connect to the internet and to my dismay it appeared to be broken. I have a full development environment on my laptop so I am able to work without being connected; even so I was not looking forward to wasting even more of our time here running around trying to secure internet access for work.
When Tara returned I broke the crappy news to her and we cycled into the nearby town of Châteaulin to see if we could manage to find a replacement. No suprise, we couldn't. The nearest SFR store was located in Quimper (15 miles away) and we would have to go there to get an (unlikely) exchange, or (more likely) buy a new one. To our amazement when we returned to camp Marcus, one of the owners, offered to drive us into to Quimper!
On the way all three of us sat up front trundling along in the big white van while Marcus told us about how he and his wife had come to run the campsite. They were both professors at the University in Bristol, completely stressed from 12 hour work days and failing health when they decided their lives were lacking in meaning and they needed a change!
Some thought they were crazy, but they packed, sold almost all of their possessions, and moved to France. Piece by piece, their new life slowly but serendipitously fell into place. Unforseen challenges arose constantly and they learned new skills while putting in countless hours of hard work to counter them. They taught themselves how to run a campsite, knocking down walls, installing plumbing, dealing with unruly campers and navigating the choppy waters of French beauracracy. All while learning a new language!
When we arrived in Quimper we were (thankfully) able to sort out our 'dongle' problems quickly. On our way back to the van we took Marcus out for coffee and sat at a cafe, watching people go by and listening to more of his story. We were completely inspired by his tale! It is so rare to hear about people wanting real change and then actually doing something about it. It takes a lot of courage to uproot one's life, and a lot of dedication to follow through with one's dreams. We felt incredibly fortunate to hear their story (and to get a ride to Quimper)! Thank you so much Marcus!
As we arrived at camp our first bout of French rain began. Our icky morning feelings came back with a vengeance; by this time we were both feeling absolutely terrible and retired to the tent for some rest. I quickly fell into a very, very deep sleep. When Tara tried to wake me a few hours later it took a lot of effort to cut through the haze of my slumber to realize she'd warmed some of our leftover chicken soup for me. I groggily accepted and as I ate the soup I could literally feel the life returning to my body.
We spent the rest of the evening in the tent catering to our new full-time jobs as snot factory employees. We both journalled a bit and complained a lot about not being able to breathe before heading to bed. After Tara dropped off I was having trouble sleeping so I took our laptop up to the covered picnic table near the camp office and posted a few journal entries. Tomorrow we're off to the canal!