So brisk in fact that we failed to find a table at the one our Lonely Planet guidebook deemed as serving the 'finest pintxos in Navarre', which seemed to me to be a bit of a backhanded compliment, like being regarded as the best Uileean pipe player in Rotterdam.
|The King of Aragon strikes a jaunty pose...|
We bypassed Huesca. It was only as we neared the Catalan border that we had any sense that extraordinary events were unfolding around us. A convoy of six Guardia Civil 4x4s overtook us at speed, otherwise the roads were empty, the increasingly blue-skied weather idyllic all the way to the Mediterranean coast at l 'Ametila.
This was at odds with media reports of an increasingly violent situation around polling stations across Catalonia. By the time we had installed ourselves in Camping Nautic it had become clear that it had been a dark day for Spain and a blow to European democracy. Over 700 people had been injured by deliberate police brutality in the act of attempting to vote. We went to bed thinking, what now?
The weather is summery, our pitch great, about 80 meters from the beach with our own personal olive tree for shade. So the political crisis here, so strident in the media seems distant and slightly unreal in everyday life. Occasionally it crops up in my Facebook exchanges, otherwise life goes on unaffected.
The thing that has surprised us here is the sheer strength of support for 'Si'. We passed through Catalonia two years ago at the time of the previous referendum. We sensed then the strength of feeling for secession was stronger in the North, near the Costa Brava and in Barcelona. This year, judging by the flags and posters on houses the pro independence feeling seems more widespread and evenly spread. We are staying in a campsite on the outskirts of a small fishing port and resort called L'Ametila, situated between Tarragona and the Ebro delta. Last night about 9.00pm. a cacophony of rattles and bangs struck up across the town. We walked in to see what the row was. Most of the population had taken to their balconies to bang on pots and pans, presumably to drown out the pro-Madrid address by the king - at least that's our guess. I think the response of the Madird government is reminiscent of the Franco era, and a reminder of how autocracy stretches back to hundreds of years of conservative Catholic absolutism. Our initial response was like yours, have the pro-independence leaders got the welfare of the Catalan people at heart? Right now though, it is feeling much more like a popular insurrection with mass support. No idea what will happen next...
A couple of days later - an exchange with my former colleague, Penny who pulled a FB prank while bored at Pisa airport - she posted a photo hugging a Meghan Markle look-alike claiming it was the real deal. Caused a stir among all her friends, except me, - I had no idea who Megan Markle was.
Me: It is somewhat embarrassing for an ex teacher of media studies not to know the name of Prince Harry's girlfriend, especially given the tabloid glurge. Right now we are camped in the south of Catalonia watching Spain's biggest political crisis since the failed coup of 1982 unfold around us. It's not boring.
Penny: Wow! Actually being there must be fascinating. I was stuck at Pisa Airport earlier today feeling mischievous ......hence the silly post.
Me: It is fascinating, we will probably move south tomorrow towards Valencia, not because we feel vulnerable, simply that's the way we were heading anyway.