We made to Andorra tonight. We came up through La Seu d’Urgell, winding our way through the little mountain villages that came upon us at every corner. I love the way that the names changed. The signs were still in Catalan, but becoming seemingly more French with every kilometre we drove north. Even the architecture changed subtly. As we approached the border we noticed that the roofs were no longer flat terraces, instead they were shingled, rounding out into the quaint style of French chalets. The arid blank walls of the Spanish homes looked out of place, too hot somehow, for these snowy peaks. Although we were still in Spain, the Pyrenees Mountains are a mix of both countries, with place names separated from their mother tongue by less than a hundred kilometres.
It is like a tiny reminder, that little change, a little nudge from the earth telling us that borders are not all that matter. The landscape doesn’t change, and the people are the same, from one kilometre to the next. Languages mingle and become new dialects, and shared communities are formed. I like the way it reminds us that wherever we put a border, we can’t change the earth. We can’t change the soil, or the sea. We have to bend to it, to adapt. And that’s what we will do, again and again, changing our roofs and our language, adapting.
It’s in moments like these that I truly adore life. Moments that make me stop and see my surrounding through new eyes, that make me really appreciate where I am. This moment was a night just like any other in this campfire lifestyle, gas stove dinner, lukewarm chocolate mousse, cask red wine. But tonight there was a guitar added. Una is almost 2, and she loves music more than anything. Her little hands tug me to my feet and we are twirling and laughing in the flickering candlelight, the taut strings of the guitar somehow creating the glorious music we dance to. My jar of red wine lies abandoned on the dirt beside my upturned bucket seat, and all I can see as we spin are Una’s white little teeth and bright blue eyes, her face stretched wide in an overjoyed smile. It was in this moment, in this dance that I took a step back, and realized how amazing it all is.
I am high in the Portuguese mountains, dancing with a little Danish girl who dances with the unrestrained vigor of the too young to be embarrassed, listening to Uruguayan lullabies and Jamaican reggae songs. Each song starts differently, the guitar is plucked confidently until a sweet melody is weaving through the air, winding its way around the tealight candles in glass jars that hang from the old olive trees. And it makes me realize, this is all I need.
People want to be millionaires, because they want experiences that they think only millions can buy. I have had many of those experiences, and I plan on having many more. I am only 23, with about five thousand New Zealand dollars and a huge student loan to my name. Anyone can have these experiences. Life is truly beautiful. As the night winds down the music slows, becomes higher and softer, more voices joining in to create smooth harmonies. Una has danced enough, and is swinging in Oli’s arms, mute and mesmerized by candlelight, in the old hammock. Each star is bright above us, and voices between songs are hushed and reverent. I sit quietly with my jar of red wine, so happy for this previously unknown place to which life has brought me.