Tuesday, 27 May 2008

east of eden

Before we left we picked fresh lemons from the trees and gathered windfall avocados to take with us. That's how much of a paradise Patty Pan's place was and is. A more characterful campsite and friendlier host would be hard to find. It's not ideal if you don't like animals (Patty has three dogs, Lika, Charlie and Norman and two cats, including a certifiably insane black moggy with three legs called Tripod. Theo was very taken with her in particular - I think it was the vigour with which she attacked him that attracted him) and I can't imagine it being favoured by the efficient Netherlanders in their spotless motorhomes (although they might get the washing machine working) and the roaming retirees, who tirelessly cross the continent in their shiny Winnebagos. Nope, it's definitely one for the more alternative type of traveller, who's more interested in making new friends and a lifestyle which contains a few quirks. One other thing about our genial hostess which particularly pleased Kate: she whooped Theo's arse at Scrabble. Yes! Anyway, the time has come to move on, so this morning we got back on the road.

The Spanish are in the wrong time zone. In a line North to South with the UK and thus on the same longitude (or is that latitude?) with London, Spain should, geographically speaking, be on GMT like Morocco and Portugal. Instead the Spanish use CET - Central European Time - and so share their hours with Germany, France, Italy et al. This is a masterstroke as it means the Spanish get long summer evenings, with sunset around ten, and can catch the dawn, even in May, at a not inhuman hour.

So, after spending a warm evening bathing in fresh water rock pools in the hills behind Estepona, we hit the road early to be greeted with a spectacular sunrise over the Med at 6.30am as we rounded Marbella heading east from Patty's eden.

We are heading to Barcelona, to the Primavera Sound Festival to see, among others, our good friend SJ Esau. It's a long drive, over a thousand kilometres from Estepona, so we're doing in it two days - after nearly 12 hours in Sheena today we made it to the Costa Blanca near Valencia. There is such a huge variety in Spain's landscape - we're seen nothing like the Basque country or the plains of Castile since we left them - and today was no different. Almeria was just a maze of polythene, each hill rounded bringing yet another series of plains and terraces of long, low, industry greenhouses. Murcia was dry and dusty, with unattractive bungalows sprawling across arid plains. Valencia, so far, seems beautiful and picturesque, full of orange trees and striking hillsides, with even the high rises of Benidorm appearing (from the road at least) attractively built and well laid out - a huge contrast to the usual, unthought out apartment block monstrosities we've found on the fringes of most Spanish cities.

Tomorrow Barcelona - if we have half as much fun as we did last time we were there we'll be in for a treat.

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