Marigold walked round in these shoes all day. We didn't notice.She has a very similar pair in the car! Got dressed in the dark.
We were followed today by a rather large dirty looking dog, obviously well fed so nothing to worry about. He had a name tag and his name was Enrico. How good is that! Anyway he joined us for coffee and a piece of toast with jam on. He had two slices, we had one. Took him ages to lick the jam off and then bolt the toast. He then had our free biscuits, lay down and went to sleep. When we left he followed us to the car, then ran off to have a fight with an equally dirty mutt.
Being back in Spain is marvellous. People are so laid back and the fruit and veg fantastic. At the moment there are hills of pomegranates, very cheap but there aren't enough hours in the day to sit outside with a pin. The other thing we love is the black tomatoes, lovely and sweet. Oranges are just being picked so spect a glut of them as well. Will have to get used to the strong coffee again. Have been drinking Costa’s best in England.
It looks as if it is a Fiesta time in a lot of the villages. Loads of fireworks, drinking and food. The louder it is the more they enjoy it. It’s like the Somme. We are misery guts and just say “ when are they going to shut up” the answer being about 4am.
Over to G now for the detailed stuff I can’t be bothered with.
Spain boasts, well maybe not boasts as such, but certainly contains within its borders Europe’s only desert. We’re in it, right now. Travel down the coast of Spain and, just before you turn right to go along the bottom bit (the non-geographically inclined among you will appreciate what to others may appear simplistic, so bear with me) it’s all dry, dusty earth and rocky outcrops.
The Costa de Almería is probably the least well known of the ‘Costas.’. The sun shines for over 3,000 hours a year and rainfall is practically non-existent. It gets hot too. Up to 48 degrees in the height of summer. Today, it’s almost chilly by those standards at a cozy 29 degrees, just a few degrees over 80 in ‘old temperatures.’
There’s a film set in the interior which may attract some. Not us. We can take or leave the artifice of film making (but love the end product). We do love the rugged scenery we’re driving through, but decide to detour to the coast as the Cabo de Gata national park, Spain’s largest, is an old favourite. This is a true wilderness, scarcely populated and conventional agriculture is virtually unknown in this arid land, but apart from the hills and valleys, there are beaches galore.
The whole of the coastline is virtually one long beach, but divided into small coves. They’re almost all unaffected and natural, lacking any amenities, but the sea is almost completely transparent and visitors are scarce. In some cases, quite a lot actually, you could find yourselves, as we have, the only people on an entire beach, all day. Naturist beaches are common too, but we’re feeling shy today so we opt for a couple of fishing villages where cafes feature among the amenities
We favour a system based on random chaos as a matter of course, so we choose to work backwards rather than make a sensible plan for the day. First up is San José which, along with Las Negras, has a bit of a bohemian air to it, very attractive to lapsed/former hippies like ourselves. Smart villas dot the hillside and the beach is good, but we come here to browse the shops and street vendors. We admire much of the hand made items for sale, but don’t buy anything today.
The road to Las Negras is a delight. Virtually nobody on the road as we pass through vast tracts of cactus, prickly pear and aloe vera skirting many beaches along the coast. There are a few ‘retreats’ and small hotels offering a holistic experience, but we’re baffled by this sort of thing, there’s a defunct former goldmine as well and a couple of amazing beaches seemingly known only to the motor home fraternity as they’re invariably deserted apart from the odd camper van.
We we struggle up the gold mine, very hot here as the bare earth soaks up the heat, but look longingly at the sea in the distance and decide that's where we should be.
Las Negras is a fishing village, with a few shops and beach cafes, mostly of the rough and ready variety, and we love coming here. The beach itself is of the scruffy shingle variety, but that helps to keep the water crystal clear. As we watch a shoal of fish turn up for a photo op, thanks very much.
Outside our favourite café,we find seats and order a cool drink. There are cats, dogs and oddly dressed people of all ages wandering around. A group of whom are loading a boat with significant quantities of beer while their excited dogs splash around on the shore. There’s a ‘hippy beach’ not far away by sea, but a daunting trek overland, and this is appears to be a supply run.
Along the shore we glimpse a gaggle of strange beings. ‘Nutters,’ declares Marigold and we leave our drinks for a moment or two to investigate. A sculpture class, hacking away with hammer and chisel at chunks of rock, is hard at work. It really is hard work too as the sun is strong today. We try not to too intrusive, difficult for Marigold, and soon decide we’re not in the presence of genius. Some efforts show promise but others look like a lump of rock that’s been clouted repeatedly by a hammer to no obvious purpose, but what do we Philistines know?
We follow a friendly cat along the beach and he takes us to a shop doorway. Perhaps he's the meeter and greeter. If so, he’s done a good job as we go inside. Everything appears to be handmade, in the most rustic sense of the term, but the owner is friendly, offers us a sweet and takes Marigold’s hand to lead her off into the dark interior. Half a dozen kittens, on a velvet cushion, blink at our arrival. I’d like to take a photo but decide not to in case it frightens them.
‘Where is their mother?’ Marigold enquires and the lady takes her hand once more. Over in the jewellery section, wedged between two glass display cases is the missing mother.
'She is resting,’ the lady says and as if on cue the kittens in the back of the shop begin to wail in unison. Their mother opens one eye, then goes back to sleep. We ask the shop lady if she can recommend anywhere to stay. You know, five star but cheap? She tells us to take the road out of town to a big house with a yellow car in the drive and ask for Paco. Now, this sounds rather like the sort of route advice in which Marigold specialises, but we give it a try.
‘lots of houses, no yellow cars’, I point out as we drive. ‘What if the person who owns the yellow car has taken the yellow car somewhere else today? Like to the shops?’ Marigold ignores me.
Just as we give up looking for yellow cars, well I gave up half a mile back, we see an old Fiat parked up inside a pair of iron gates.it’s more cream than yellow, but Marigold says that’s just because it’s faded in the sun and off she goes to look for ‘Paco.’
Marigold returns in the company of a man far smaller than herself, which makes him very short indeed. He smiles broadly, says he is indeed the Paco we are seeking and invites us inside. Paco shows us a lovely bedroom on the ground floor, very clean and bright, and says we can stay here for twenty euros, but that we will be alone in the house tonight as he lives in another village.
We look at each other, Marigold and I, and decide twenty euros is very cheap, the house is lovely and Paco is the caretaker of this house and making a little money in the side by renting us a room. Either that or he’s the most trusting man in Spain to allow two complete strangers free run of his house while he goes elsewhere. Whatever, I pay Paco twenty euros and five minutes later,he’s gone.
We confine ourselves to the bedroom, its en-suite bathroom and front terrace, apart from using the kitchen to make a drink, ie no snooping, sleep very well and depart in the morning. Paco said just close the door when you leave, so we do. Now we just need to find a few more Pacos. Twenty euros per night is a lot cheaper than mixed dormitory hostels with their grisly shared bathrooms, never mind hotels.
Perhaps we’ll find another Paco today.