Showing posts with label puntas de calnegre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label puntas de calnegre. Show all posts

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Costa del Dodo

Thursday 22 March 2018 - Day 18

Is it us?  We’ve come to a conclusion…and not everyone will like it.  But I don’t write for a newspaper, travel magazine or any other publication, so we can only upset our blog readers.  This part of Spain is badly broken - in fact the whole of southern Spain is broken. It’s about as authentically Spanish as Disneyworld.  We’ve tried to give it the benefit of the doubt.  We’ve tried to see beyond the rubbish dumped everywhere, the destruction of the land and the soil, the exploitation of the migrant workers, the blinkered view of those in massive motorhomes who park here for months on end.  But, we really can’t see the attraction.  The inland areas are different - cleaner, better-managed, a sense of community - we’ve already seen and enjoyed this.  But tourism and commercialism have killed the south coast. - it should be called the Costa del Dodo. 

It hasn’t helped that we walked down into the village this evening to find something to eat and everywhere was shut - proper shut.  It hasn’t helped that the wind has blown constantly at gale force, day and night and the wind is cold, really cold.  I spoke to the British couple ‘guarding’ this ‘aire’ - they’re here for three months - three frigging months!  They say they love it and the views are great.  There’s nothing for miles except plastic and beaches full of builders’ rubble that’s been dumped over the years.  They think it’s wonderful - I think they’re mad!   It feels like there’s a real impression of “The Emperor’s New Clothes’ here - if I don’t say it as it is, nobody will see it. 

This part of the trip is getting us down.  I guess it started yesterday, driving past huge plastic-covered fields and stopping off at a small shop run by a migrant, who could not have been more helpful and charming.  It really got us thinking about how the migrant workers in this area have been used and abused to provide us with fruit and veg all year round.  My sister-in-law sent us a link to an article that pretty much sums it up: Europe’s Dirty Little Secret - Moroccan Slaves and a sea of Plastic.  I tried to put a positive spin on this place yesterday, but I wasn’t being truthful to myself…or you.  

I went for a bike ride this morning. It was chilly in the wind, so I wore my UK cycling kit, including a warm jacket.  I followed the coastal road, into a strong headwind.  I thought perhaps I could escape the plastic, but it wasn’t to be.  As I pedalled, the smell of plastic and chemicals just grew stronger. The vast farms are an amalgamation of plastic, metal and concrete.  There was hardly a soul to be seen but I’m sure the migrant workers were toiling in this plastic hell - we heard the 0730 ‘air raid’ siren call to start work this morning; I cannot imagine what the working conditions must be like in the height of summer.  As I cycled, the plastic never stopped. Even the areas of soil not covered were just piles of dead dust, blowing away in the strong wind.  The soil here is dead - brain-stem dead.  It’s on a life-support system of chemicals and sparse water, now being drained from the ever-diminishing underground aquifers.  It’s only a matter of time until this area becomes a poisoned desert.  As I cycled along, the roadside was littered with tons of abandoned plastic sheeting, bottles (plastic and glass) and tin cans.  In my two hours on the road, I only came across one small grocery store. 

Back at the aire, I looked around at the massive motorhomes, some the size of single-decker coaches, generators humming and satellite dishes all pointing in the same direction so they could watch their soaps, or football, or the lottery.  I’m sorry, but this is not why we travel.  We travel to experience the life of the locals, to embrace the diversity of language and culture, to try out our language skills, with much pointing and a smile.  This area reminds me of the many places I’ve seen around the world - tourists in ‘all-inclusive’ resorts, cosseted, locked away, ‘protected’ from the country they’re in, spending not a single dollar/peso/euro in the local community, just feeding the hungry corporates who own these modern day holiday prison camps. I feel desperately sad for those toiling this doomed land, but no empathy with the owner who drove past me at speed in his new black Range Rover.

We move on tomorrow, following the coast.  After this experience, if we don’t like what we see, we’ll keep on moving until we find somewhere that feels real and authentic, where we can move amongst the local people, share a smile and a wave (even if it means we’ll be back in Anglesey in a couple of weeks).  I’m not sure any part of southern Spain can give us this, but hopefully the northern areas of Portugal and Spain will restore our faith.   But would we over-winter in Spain - no, never.

That’s it, I’ve stepped off my soap box.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow.  I’ve put the kettle on now to make a cup of tea to warm up!  In the meantime, waiting for the incoming abuse about this post......

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Plastic fields and sunny beaches

Tuesday 21 March 2018 - Day 17

Nido’s back by the sea, on an aire called Taray Camper Park, just across the road from the beach in Puntas de Calnegre.   Taray Camper Park’s a posh name for what is basically a large gravel and stone car park with a service point, at €6 per night. 

It was another windy and very cold night in Ricote (although cold is relative when I look at the temperatures back home) - clear skies and sunny when I got up, but only 5’C.  Watered up and waste dumped. we drove back down the hairpins and were soon on the motorway, heading for our next stop.  I took a wrong lane coming off at the slip road, but this was fortuitous, as I came across a fuel station with diesel at only €1.089 per litre. Back in the right direction, we again soon turned off onto narrower roads, passing through miles and miles of agricultural land.  It was really depressing to plastic covering the land as far as the eye could see, both in the form of poly tunnels and cloches - all because we want to eat exotic fruits and salads out of season.  It was evident a large migrant population provide the labour force and I would imagine their living and working conditions aren’t great.  We needed some groceries, but were far from the land of the supermarket, but eventually came across a small shop in a hamlet.  It was run by a delightful man (I guess from the Middle East), who helpfully pointed out all the items we asked for - another shop that sold all we needed. We asked if he had any fresh chicken, upon which he opened a fridge door to show two freshly killed, still whole and complete with head.  Some may find this squeamish, but after living in Pakistan, where we used to select the live chicken we wanted and leave the butcher to ‘prepare’ it, this felt really normal to us.  He kindly chopped it into small portions, bones and all.  It was lovely to practice our Spanish (I guess not his first language either) in a calm, slow and relaxing fashion.  We much prefer these kinds of shops to the large supermarkets.  As I thanked him he said ‘you’re welcome’ back to me in Urdu, so I thanked him again and said goodbye in Urdu too - it made our day to be helped by such a lovely man.

As we reached the coast we followed the beach road, past a small village with a few bars and restaurants, before turning off into the aire. There was a chain barrier across the entrance and Cathy got out to move it so we could drive in.  A British lady in a large motorhome ran across to take our money and explain where we could and could not park; it’s a basic gravel motorhome park with no marked bays, so I nodded and then parked where I wanted to!  Nido is again the smallest van in the park, with some real monsters around us; I would not want to try and navigate them around some of the small villages and steep hairpin bends.  Lunch was enjoyed outside in the sunshine,  although we still had to shelter from what was a strong and chilly offshore wind.  We took a walk along the beach, which was stony in some parts but mostly comprised of tiny stones (or large grains of sand - take your pick!).  Further down one end by the cliffs we were sheltered from the wind, so I had a snooze in the warm sunshine while Cathy mooched up and down the beach looking for treasure (sea glass and pottery).  It was our first warm day on the beach and we soaked up the sunshine.  On the way down we noticed a few panel vans like ours were wild camping right by the beach.  In future I think we’ll drive past our intended stop and check out the area beforehand, as they really did have a prime spot to enjoy the sea view and sunset.  We took the footpath along the cliff to a small cove, then turned back to walk up to the other end towards the small village.  The couple of restaurants were still serving later lunch diners, plus the little ‘locals’ bar across the road still had a few old chaps sat outside, chatting loudly and nursing a beer.

Dinner tonight was a concoction of the chicken, a scrumped lemon, fried sliced potatoes, onion, garlic and pepper, plus one of the dried smoked peppers I bought in Ricote, with some of the wild herbs picked on our walk.  It came together well into a (sort of ) tagine, washed down with a glass of the local ‘brick’ of wine (1L for €0.89).  It’s very quiet and dark here so we should sleep well.  I’d emailed a campsite near Granada earlier to book a couple of nights next week, as we wanted to visit the Alhambra Palace and Gardens in Granada.  They confirmed almost by return, so I tried to book the Alhambra tickets.  The first attempt showed all tickets booked up until the end of April. On a second attempt (on an incognito web page), our selected date of 27 March was available.  I filled in all the details online and at the end it told me I’d already bought my allocated number of tickets this month!  Someone is telling us we not visiting Alhambra this trip; as much as we’d like to see it, we’re not that fussed and they’ll always be somewhere else to go.  Perhaps someone is trying to tell us the crowds and noise of the city of Granada are not for us.  We’re staying here for another night tomorrow, so I can get out for a long bike ride and Cathy can explore more of the beach.  Now Granada’s off the agenda, we’ll continue to make our way down the coast, popping inland if somewhere takes our fancy.  

Lunch in the sunshine

Only two people in this massive unit!

A depressing sea of plastic as far as the eye can see