Monday, 31 October 2016

Round and about in the Costa de la Luz

Olvera to Conil, de la Frontera, 113 Miles, Camping Rosaleda, €17 per night. 2 nights

Where next? This was the vexed question posed by the crowded car park of Puerto Serrano's disused station. Clearly the gentler section of the via verde hereabouts was a popular holiday weekend activity with Spanish families. No way were we going to be able able to squeeze the van into any of the available parking slots. We discussed options. Head west towards Cadiz and the section of the Costa de la Luz next to the Portuguese border. The campsite at Isla Cristina was great we agreed. "But we've been there," was my point, ever keen to pursue our aim to 'boldly go'. Using the James T Kirk rule of thumb we decided to head southwards to the beaches of the Costa de la Luz near Barbate and Capo Trafalgar. The last time we visited here we scooted past this section of the coast in hyper-drive when the landscape had been wreathed in mist due to Wunderground's secret Klingon cloaking device.

Even our simple revised plan proved less straightforward than we anticipated. Muriel plotted a route directly south from Arcos de la Frontera through the intruigingly exotic sounding Medina de Sidonia. We never found out if the placed lived up to its 'eastern promise'. We turned off the dual carriageway following the signs, however after less than half a kilometres the road deteriorated into an upgraded donkey track and I reversed gingerly into a factory entrance deciding to about turn and take the main road via Jerez instead. Somewhat longer but a lot less stressful. A bonus was the factory entrance provided a stunning view of Arcos de la Frontera, complete with requisite white buildings and cliff edge setting. Gill took a photo through the windscreen, that was as close as we were going to get.


Where we ended up was at a campsite at Conil de la Frontera. The site was ok and the nearby small resort a pleasant, if traffic choked, place. The white town at its centre was interesting but the huge beach somewhat windswept.








After five weeks of being more or less solitary travellers suddenly there were lots of English voices around us. We were entering the land of the long stay over-wintering Brits complete with safari rooms and fancy awnings draped with fairy lights filling pitches, and a social scene of afternoon drinks with neighbours, a fully functioning temporary suburb in the sun. I can understand the attraction in that if you a sociable person. It's something I have never quite got the hang of.

Not everyone had packed their sun beds to settled down to await the man with the scythe. I had a really interesting conversation at the washing up place with someone who had worked as a teacher in Southeast London. She had the rather remarkable experience of teaching the siblings of Stephen Lawrence then, moving to another school, ended up with the offspring of one of his alleged killers in her class. Her thoughts on the contradictions and challenges of working in such a mixed multi-cultural city and the realities of having to deal with its dark side certainly gave me pause for thought. Life can be so unfair, and when horrible things occur the consequences ripple out far beyond the perpetrators and the victim; lives are changed for the worse simply by association. 

The chat drifted towards more mundane matters, of where we both had been and where we were going next. To Morocco tomorrow for my fellow washer-upper. I asked how she felt. A bit anxious but excited was the reply, explaining that they had booked a hotel stop near Tangier with secure parking and were moving on then to a well established campsite near Agadir reached mainly by motorway. "Then we'll decide how adventurous we want to be," she added with a grin. We wished each other 'bon voyage'. See, I thought to myself as carried the dishes back, I can manage to be conversational sometimes...

Today is Halloween. Our virtual worlds have been full of witches and pumpkin lanterns, but in the real world here in Spain, or at least in Andalucia, Halloween is very low key, and as in France, it's All Saints day on November 1st. which is the big event, involving voluminous pots of chrysanthemums, visits to the family grave, and a big meal out with living relatives. Or least that's what the more traditionally minded do. From our experience in the previous site, it seems younger, more secularly minded Spaniards simply head out for a late autumn break before a winter chill sets in even in Europe's most southerly climes.

Just so we northerners would not feel too Halloween deprived, a coal black cat decided to take-up residence beneath the van. Every so often a plaintive meow would drift up from below. Even for someone like me who regards cats as sentimentalised vermin, I realised as felines go, this one was a bit of a looker, and so beautiful, could easily have modelled for Jan Pieńkowski. Our sense that we were featuring in an episode of Meg and Mog was reinforced by the arrival of Owl, hooting very loudly in the bough of a tree right above our half open heiki skylight. I crept quietly out of the van hoping to see the bird. I did not get a full view, but glimpsed a flash of tawny wings as it settled on one of the higher branches.So, no kids filching sweets, teen zombies heading for fancy dress parties or pumpkin lanterns grinning malevolently from neighbouring windows; instead a sickle moon, a black cat and a visiting owl. Gothic enough for Halloween, so long as you ignore the balmy temperature, a chirping cicada and the adjacent olive grove.

We've been looking at the map. We think we will move a few kilometres tomorrow to site next to Capo Trafalgar,, because 'England expects...'

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