Successful people say this all the time: “Trust your gut”. I always wondered what it meant. Do you have to check for a sign in your body? How do you apply it on your day-to-day life? When you have to make a decision? Is it the same feeling for everyone?
It was still too cold to sleep in the van, so we chose the next destination based on the warmest city in a 1000km radius. Fueled by bad coffee and awesome music, we began our journey South. Midwest America, here we come.
La Chichona only had a CD player. I burnt my playlists on CDs, old school. Making each CD by hand was totally worth the time, a lost satisfaction. Back in the days you made a playlist with intention and care, and listened to it without interruptions, connectivity issues or commercials. The CD player brought us back to basics: the open road, music from the heart and the sweet taste of freedom.
Country roads have history, a soul of their own. I’ve always preferred them to highways. Bob Dylan lulled us through the flat lands. The scenery brought us back to The Grapes of Wrath. I imagined previous generations traveling, on horses and on foot, gambling it all for the promise of a better future. Centuries later, wagons have evolved into rickety boats, overloaded with hopes for a sea too mighty. Cornered by despair, they still gambled. Dignity or death? The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.
The first week on the road was a hectic escape from Nature. We fought through the blizzard of the East coast, the Midwest cold, and the rain of the Southern swamps. Five days later, we had reached our destination: Magnolia Beach in the Gulf of Mexico.
Magnolia beach was a pleasant surprise, a 2km-long stretch of white sand in a bay. It had free facilities, warm showers, and lots of space. It could be a perfect kite-surfing spot. The wind forecast looked promising for the next days. I had my gear with me. For some reason, Magnolia it was not listed as a kite-surfing spot, anywhere! We decided to spend some time there, to relax and kite-surf if the wind picked up.
Kite-surfing alone is dangerous. I was experienced enough and confident in my abilities. Besides, none of the usual suspects were there. There were no rocks, no strong currents, no big waves and no obstacles nearby. The wind was blowing side shore and the beach was large enough to launch and land safely. Everything looked okay. Yet, something felt odd.
I had not kitesurfed for over 8 months. Windguru predicted good conditions in two days. I waited patiently, investigating the water for the first signs of white froth. Only disappointment on the horizon. There was not a single knot of wind that morning. Worse, it started raining…
In the afternoon the wind picked up, slowly and steadily. Three hours after the rain, it was blowing over 20 knots/hour. I launched myself into the water and rode on, gliding and feeling the wind on my cheeks. I was ecstatic. Perfect conditions and nobody in the water. Heaven on earth.
This is too good to be true, there must be something wrong… I trusted my gut and went back to shore. Meanwhile, Kamilia had been cooking. We ate and took a nap. An hour later, the rocking of la Chichona woke me up. The wind was howling loud and clear, like a wolf to the moon.
I went outside for a shower. By the time I was done, it was blowing over 40 knots; that is when trees bend over. Everything on the ground is flying. I was being tossed around by the gusts, covering my eyes, unable to walk in a straight line. I reached la Chichona and parked upwind for aerodynamics. We waited inside, anxious and helpless.
It made no sense. Windguru predicted a steady 20-knot sideshore wind all day. Instead, we went from dead quiet, to rainy, to over 40 knots. All within five hours! La Chichona was rocking harder despite its position. We were in the Gulf of Mexico… hurricane land. THAT’S WHY IT WASN’T LISTED YOU IDIOT!!!
There was no telling when the wind would stop. We had only the van for protection and my 3.5-ton Chichona was overpowered, about to flip over with the next gust. The situation became dangerous. We needed to get away and fast. So we rushed north, once again escaping the forces of nature. After three hours on the road, tossed by the wind, we finally found shelter… behind a Walmart. Go figure.
Living in a vehicle is humbling. You realize how overwhelming nature can be. I was happy with my decision. For the first time in a while, I trusted my gut. Intuition, a distress signal rose from nowhere saved us from an imminent catastrophe.