It’s the 30th of October 2019, exactly 3 months and 4 days since my last post about our van trip with the cats.
Sorry. But there’s a reason.
We still haven’t found Milù, and picking this blog back up has been at the bottom of my wish list.
I’m still not ready to talk about Milù’s story and disappearance. I’ve sort of bottled all the pain away and only access it when I really have to, for example when I need to talk about it to keep on searching.
Sooner or later, I will write a long post about it––hopefully one with a happy end.
Meanwhile, here’s what Simba’s been up to.
We spent the first month of our trip in Margalef, Catalonia, and then a month and a half in Terradets, in the same region.
Margalef is a pretty little village right off some world class climbing and, perhaps most importantly, home to a massive colony of really cute strays!
Margalef was our first stop and it was a truly enjoyable one. Lots of climbing, good weather, great food, cheap wine, and Milù and Simba were doing great.
After about a month we’d had enough and decided to move on. And so we landed in Terradets.
When we first drove toward it, I fell in love. The gorge took my breath away. However, few weeks later, my worst nightmare began. Milù had vanished into thin air. But that’s a story for another day.
We had to stay in Terradets for about 2 months – much longer than originally planned – because we had to keep looking for Milù.
Every day, with 45 ° C – 7 degrees warmer than our body temperature! – we had to struggle to even walk, eat, sleep. And, of course, the search went on day and night, taking an immense toll on me, physically and mentally. To the point I had a nervous breakdown and a sun/heat stroke, and had to be rushed to the hospital.
Simba didn’t take the heat weaves too well either.
He started shedding a worrying amount of his long, think fur and spent more and more time hiding in a bush looking for some shade, or sleeping in the van. One day, I noticed he was walking all weird and drooling, so we had to make a decision and leave the area.
I instructed local friends, contacts and volunteers to continue the search for me and, with a heavy heart, weaved the gorge of Terradets goodbye.
A 15-hours drive took us from torrid, hot Catalonia to wet, cold Asturias and Cantabria, North Spain.
We settled for a few weeks between a village called Panes, right off the famous Picos de Europa, and San Vicente de la Barquera, a famous surfing destination, where we could switch between climbing and surfing more or less easily.
Simba immediately adapted to the new climate and green, lush mountain-like landscape, that likely reminded him more of those from home.
He almost instantaneously stopped shedding all the fur, and didn’t seem to mind the change of scenery at all.
He never seems to like it when we move the van, but on this occasion it looked like he already knew the drill:
- Lock catflap
- Simba meows
- Start engine
- Simba jumps on bed
- Drive off
When we first arrived and stopped the engine, as usual, he jumped off the bed and requested to be let out. I tried walking him on the leash to help him get acquainted with new area, but he wiggled out of it within 0,5 seconds.
Sorry, Puppia, but there’s room for improvement on our cat harnesses. (Update: see this article for review on cat harnesses and this article for a guide on how to leash train your cat)
As always, we parked up in a remote area far from roads and cities. Our only neighbours were a million cows and a bunch of sheep.
Simba took a couple of hours to explore the place, and then just started rolling in the dirt all happy to be in nature again. He loved the dirt tracks and took me on a few walks around the fields, enjoying the stunning sunset and the fresh air.
He didn’t leave the van much or venture far, unless we’d take him on a walk; He was mainly active a few hours at night, but we always kept an eye on him with his GPS tracker.
Side note: I don’t know how I ever lived without one before. If you’re wondering why, go ahead and read my review about GPS vs radio frequency trackers here. (Update: 9 months into the trip, I’ve now published my ultimate cay GPS tracker review. Read it here.)
Our next stop was an idyllic valley–a ‘secret’ climbing destination that shall remain unnamed–located further into the countryside of Cantabria, just an hour from Santander and from our previous location, where we spent another few weeks.
This place was truly incredible: lush green hills, breath-taking views, stunning sunsets, indescribable climbing… too bad for the weather! It was constantly rainy, cold and wet. But we also got a few days of sun, which didn’t go to waste.
Simba first found a cave and then a tree just a few meters from the van, and spent a few days in there without ever resurfacing unless we’d waive food at him. We then found out he had smelled and seen another cat and was, I guess, just hanging out with him.
We were parked up on the top of the hill, cows horses and goats our only neighbours.
Maybe he was put off by the often miserable weather, maybe by the 101 goats being walked next to us every day; After the first week, Simba started spending much more time in the van with us and only ventured outside if we went with him!
In spite of the rain and clouds, we ended up staying in Unnamed Place for quite some time, and Simba even made some friends. Kind of.
But enough’s enough: both Simba and us hoomans were keen to leave Mordor and find the sun, so off we went… to a brand new country.
Stay tuned and find out about Simba’s Portugal adventures in the next post ???