The rain continued for around 24 hours and by that time the devastation was becoming obvious. I remember over hearing of multiple deaths, but I was not completely aware of how bad the situation was. In one sense it was kind of exciting because it is not an everyday event. All the power was out and getting wáter was going to be an issue. We were all discussing how we should proceed. Once the rain had stopped, I remember that we went outside to survey the scene. The highway was gone. We could not even walk toward France along the road near our apartment. It was gone. We were on edge of the river, so thankfully our apartment had been spared and being on a higher floor kept us away from the flood waters. We walked across the Street and had to go up a hill to make our way around the missing highway. It became clear that Andorra was cut off from both Spain and France due to the highways being destroyed.
I was selfishly thinking about how I would be able to continue my travels, but for the time being I was trapped in Andorra. Each day we would take turns buying and preparing food from a nearby store. One day after being there about four days, Monica asked me suddenly if she could join me when I went out to get some food. I was surprised as we had not spoken that much during my time there, but of course I was ok with that. She wanted to take some photos and expressed an interest in learning some English. I distinctly remember her asking me how to say, “leche” in English when we were in the middle of the road. She kept repeating “meeelk” with a very strong accent. I found her desire to learn refreshing. Oddly I had carried a Yashica 35 mm camera with me on the trip, but had taken almost no photos. It always seemed a hassle and interruption to take it out. Monica took me up into the hills around the área and was posing next to some cows in a field. Beautiful scenery and a beautiful woman. I couldn’t complain.
The power remained out for a while and one night, a local bar had a generator running and we watched a video of the rock group Queen and I remember the song “Bicycle.” It was on a big screen and the volume was up high. “I love to ride my bicycle!” I had gone from the lonliness of Menorca to constant companionship, trapped in a flood with a unique group of people.
I recall that Jordi was very political, possibly an anarchist. I learned a lot from him about the ETA, the terrorist group in the Basque country. I had not been very familiar with that before, although I had passed through the territory months earlier. When I get my journals I will write more about this time. I know there is much more to say. One evening, Monica was asked to show some of her talents to the group. She came out of the kitchen where she was cooking and proceeded to put on a little show. She first took an umbrella and got a coin and twirled the umbrella around and around while the coin stayed moving on the umbrella around and around. She then had some sticks that she happened to have with her and she took plates from the kitchen and showed how she could keep the plates spinning on the sticks. Later, almost a year later, I would see her perform live. It was impressive. She could asume contortionist positions while maintaining the plates spinning on the sticks. I will write a lot about Monica in other entries. She is an amazing person.
After about four days, I believe, some power was returning. It was almost a bit sad to be returning to normal. The roads were still out in both directions and we were told it would be weeks. One day I heard that if I hiked over the hill around the destroyed highway, I would be able to go to France…that there might be buses. I decided to leave. The one constant of my journey was movement, so I decided to maintain that strategy. I had been in Andorra approximately a week. I can still still vividly recall walking down the hallway with my heavy backpack on in the apartment as I prepared to walk out the door and to France. I had no idea where I was going. Monica and Olga greeted me in front of the door. I was surprised at how emotional they seemed. They hugged me and kissed my cheeks. Monica gave me papers that included addresses of her sister in Greece and another in Barcelona and an address to write her at. I was a little taken aback by this as we had not spoken much during the week except when we walked to the store that one day. I would end up writing all of them frequently as I traveled through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey on my way to eventually end up in Norway on the farm where I would finally be able to receive letters.
I walked out of town over a hill and indeed people were gathered on the French side trying to get out. I somehow connected with a French guy who said he would give me a ride in his small car. I will have to go to my journal to get more details on him, but he was a great guy. My French is weak, but we figured out a way to communicate. We drove through the night descending from the Pyrenees into France. I recall leaning out the window and looking up at a fantastic, starry night. The wonderful thing about this time period is that I was realizing that my trip was becoming something very special that would impact me for years to come. I ended up in the town of Nimes, France, which had remarkable Roman archictecture. Andorra seemed world´s away.