Spain – football, Dali, Guardi, El Grecco, tomatoes, Bullfighting, Civil War, omlets, inquisition, Hemmingway, Ferdinand and Isabella, Picasson’s Gurnica
Lloret de Mar
As we arrived at our first camp we have our first explosion and I walked off to find the sea. What was it about? A curtailment of freedom. B needed his familiarities more than ever now he was suffering. We’d been driving for hours, the dogs like greyhounds lept out of the van as we parked in a wild windswept place by the sea. ‘We cannot camp here, there are no facilities’, said B. We must find a prescribed place, near a bar, near somewhere safe. That evening ate far too much wine and cheese.
It did, however, have a cemetery. And some place it was. I read later that Modernist Cemetery (Cementiri Modernista) is a unique example of heritage “Indianos” – those local residents who left for Cuba or the West Indies to work and richer, he returned, bringing with them the “non-native architecture.”. SEE X
La Sagrada Familia
B not interested, but he gave me an hour to explore. The extraordinary RC basilica designed by Gaudi (1852-1926). Trees yes, but also Star Trek, out of space compound eyes. Everywhere outside and inside everyone is taking selfies.
Here’s the background :
Construction began in 1882, with Gaudi taking over in 83, and devoted the remaineder of his life to it. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Interrupted by Spanish Civil War, resumed 1950’s, CAD has helped, anticipated that the building would be completed by 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death. (Our tourist money E35 helps)
When asked why he designed such detail at the top where no one would see, Guadi replied : ‘The angles will’.
I gasped on entry. The light from the windows breathtaking.
Barcelona City Tour. It is a city of apartments, boulevards and dark narrow streets, of plane trees, tables outside, well dressed women, Gothic architecture, modern glass. George Orwell, Homage to Catelonia.
Tapas Bodega Monumental – phew downhill and around the corner I found the perfect place for B. Lifted two knives. ‘Your trousers have had a row with your ankles’ East End definition of being too short. Delicious tapas served by man from Equidor, 30 years here.
We are camped high above the city in the green park area called Montjuic. It is expensive for a piece of legal concrete to park a van but it does have toilets (essential for the B).
Morning run – only towards the end did I see the signs no dogs as we ran through the old Olympic stadium buildings wonderfully empty, clean and formal. Passed the woman feeding the wild cats. Up an unusual grass knoll to yes, a cemetery.Blocks of flats being built in the distance.
We eat at an eccentric but excellent place, La Foixada, watching the young Spanish girls learn to ride in front of us.
I see from my journal (I type this up 3 years later, 2021) that I began here to list the things and people I would not become. I will not be a journalist, checkout girl, brain surgeon.
I left Barcelona regretting all that I’d missed, I long for the mountains but we must to the coast, for B to search out the sun.
Unplanned versus plan. We are unplanned. Somewhere I read of a festival early March in Valencia, and as it happens we rock up on the first day. It is a festival of spring, when all the carpenters clear out their sheds of old wood and create effigies, which after being displayed, are burnt on the final day in a firework extravaganza.
Barry first came here with Petra 50 years ago and then with Petra and Marlon on their way to Gib. But before that B came with Tuggie Wally and Tony the Mechanic in his car an MG Magnet, a 4 seater.
We rent an apartment, separate rooms, one dog each, I have Bobji who is on heat for the first time in her life and bemused at the attention she draws. We are in the old fishing quarter, very pleasant homely homes.
At a corner shop an unexpected dance with an Indian shop owner.
With no Spanish some Hindi comes from no where in particular
‘Arpko Hindi atta hai?’ I ask
‘Ji’ he replies
‘Tiki, merra ke sath dudh hai.’
He came from Pakisthan via Germany 15 years ago.
Are you happy here? I asked as one can only as a stranger.
‘Yes, yes, you must understand my country. Too much corruption. Heads of stone. They will not change. They are not educated.’
Then a Lithuanian rocks up.
‘Riga’ he says. And I dust down my very basic Russian.
In the end Amir does not take a penny from us for our food, it is a gift he says.
Sitting in La Murciana, awaiting Pialla with the famous Valencian rice.
Rice is not B’s taste. ‘Only one thing worse and that’s spagetti.
It was the best ever.
Bad night. I found B rummaging around at 4am looking for the spare keys. He had a cold nose. ‘That’s how I know if i’m cold -I cannot feel it otherwise. I haven’t slept in 6 months’.
Morning run through woodland with wild rosemary. Empty spectacular beaches, cold water for half swim.
‘Dog is English?’ a man asks. ‘No Valensian dog swim’ he laughs.
The most delicious unexpected lunch. A random turn off. El Surrano. As soon as I walked in I knew B would be seduced. ‘Gotta stay here – they’ve got rabbit.’
Camping under the lighthouse. Wind strong. Language is often what trips Barry and I up.
‘We’re camping with all the poor people.
“I’m having a lark. That’s the trouble with you, you never laugh.’
Shops full of sweet delicacies.
It is an excellent camp site, clean toilets, hot showers, and a walk to the sea. On the morning walk along the unusual lava like cliffs I did find a spot of vertigo to a Roman Fort. Meadows of seaweed. Wild flowers. Popular wild camper van camping on the next door beach near by, although challenging quantity of off lead dogs for Bobji who is still on heat.
We met Flora, who pitched her modest tent beside us. Immediately bright, young and delightful, she walked with me the next day to San Pedro, the community you can only reach by walking. Some story of supplying sanitary towels, and Kenya? Mother father east European Jewish or was it Irish, her father made films and acted, the King and I? Archeological. Studied social anthropology at Cambridge. ‘I like being able to pass on to new people where I go. You are the John the Baptist the Exchanger, the transmitter… I want to find great contentment.’ She first decided not to eat meat, then gave up fish. I am full of admiration for her. We decide to stay another day.
The dogs and I walked to R the gold mining abandoned village. I am attracted to abandoned places, once buzzing with industry and vital, materials supportive and constructive, now discarded, deteriorating back into the earth from which they originally came before refashioned by man.
As B rested, I went on an errand to the local town to find a bank. No one would take his cash. Edgy, Muslim, immigrant pickers, and no tomatoes!
Mojacar to visit Paul
Here he is Nico, and under the protection of the cafe on the cliff owner. Paul has been here 3 weeks, come in and have some wine he invites.We camp near by facing the sea. B enjoys the closeness of the bar. Paul, Jesus and Miguel, 3 single men, many dogs and my one horney dog.
Lunch on the beach, Nico, Meguel, Jesus Barry and I. Chicken liver hot chilli leaks in lemon and olive oil, friend onions, beside the sea, salted on our breath.
I’ve gotta have a steak’, says B as we arrive at shops after what seems like a long time.
“But what’s the point when you eat out all the time?” We finally find a steak.
‘I want greens and potatoes…’
Mojacar see front, bars, often English names like Moby Dick.
This is me, says B. To walk out onto that beach, along this sea front, bar after bar.
It was Miguel who stopped us as we left, and said, go to the old town. You can park, and there is a lift (another life savior) Narrow streets, of white painted homes. I knocked at a door. A man answered. He and his wife, Russian bought fro the owners who’s children had left for Mojacar beach residence. They had renovated it with such passion and detail.
Our community. Centered around the protection of Antonio the bar owner, who naturally benefits fro the custom. The police leave all alone. Some money may have been exchanged. There is a woman with an old dog, for whome she has built a ramp for it to ascend to the van.There is one who they call Peter Sellar,in a 500,000 van – the modern artist. There are two germans in a tent. And Miguel and Jesus of course. Up the track I met Andy and Tracy who tell me they are from Brighlingsea. Do you know Bill Kitchen I ask. In the morning they come by and tell me, they are sure he died.
The morning of our departure
We’d been rocked by a storm in the night. Bobji, crying, came to sleep on my head.
At 10 when we were to be leaving, B started cooking his steak. We left in the afternoon.
Punta del Monsul
This is Linda’s landscape. She must have posted an image and it moved me. We drive to the end and I walk out. Barry takes an hour to prepare – sunscreen, etc – but still struggles. His pain is stark. There is a photo of him resting on the side of a volcanic rock shelf. We leave after a short while.