In Vinaroz, a small town which we reach early in the day, we ask a woman on the street for an open Internet café. She tells us that they’re all closed until five o’clock (Spanish siesta), but we continue to chat. When we explain that we are also looking for a campsite, she instead invites us to stay with her. She is from Scotland and has (long story) ended up on the streets of Vinaroz after a broken marriage. After 20 years in the country, she now sleeps in an abandoned caravan in the outskirts of town. We meet her there later in the evening. The caravan stands on a small yard, enclosed by a man-high fence. We climb the latter and walk up to the caravan. On the ground in-front, we make a fire over which we fry liver that she has bought earlier.
During the day, she had also pinched a frying pan. “It just slipped in under my shirt,” she says. Usually though, she earns her money by bringing back peoples’ shopping carts at the big supermarket nearby. That gives her the one euro deposit that the customers have left inside. “If today I can earn two euros, tomorrow I am rich,” she says, and continues, “Then I can have a cup of coffee at a café in town the next morning – a good start of the day.”
A new friend of hers, Oscar, is around the whole day. He is a former member of ETA – used to manufacture bombs. Wife and two kids. He is less than thirty days out of jail (convicted of dealing drugs), but he seems determined to find a new, better life than his previous. Together with our friend, he drinks Coke mixed fifty-fifty with cheap red wine from paper box.
She smokes cigarette butts that she has collected from the street, and shares with us the bread that the bakery in town gave her in the morning. Also, each Friday the local nuns hand out filled baguettes to her and other homeless people in town. Sometimes, she collects the half-eaten leftovers that fill the container behind the nearby McDonald’s. She is amazed over how much people throw away. After that I had peeled some carrots that we contributed with to dinner, she took the small pile of peel and ate it. But despite the difficulties, she never shows sadness or dejection. What is most difficult for her, it seems, is that she is not treated with the same dignity and respect as others in the society. How people look down on her. In itself, begging for money and food is not a problem, but to be looked upon as something else than a human, is so demeaning.
Come nighttime, we put our bags safely in the storage space underneath the sofa beds in the caravan, and sleep on top.