Fools Gold

Aqua Amarga 24/04/2015

We are sitting in the van parked up on the beach at the chic resort and one time fishing village of Aqua Amarga within the Cabo de Gata National Park, just East of the gritty city of Almeria. It has now been a week since we left Granada, a week of sporty activities, not all of them successful, a week of meeting new friends, very successful and a week of changeable weather, not successful at all. But first a google map of where we are and a photo, a photo that includes a view of Tracy wrestling with our table to start you off:

Aqua Amarga Parking

Granada to San Jose 16/04/2015

Yes we do know the way to San Jose but unfortunately the inconsistent SatNav does not and took us on the most convoluted way possible, we don’t bother arguing with it anymore, when we do it just shouts ‘you are over the speed limit’ incessantly. So we have learnt to put up with it even though each journey is never the easiest, shortest or fastest no matter how we set it.

While we were in Granada we indulged between the showers in a spot of van-popping with our adjacent Homies John and B, swapping stories, chewing the cud and recommending places to go. We had been informed of Cabo de Gata and passed this on in a neighbourly fashion and left for the beach in the wind and the rain. This area is supposed to be the warmest and driest part of Spain with the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada acting as an enormous windbreak.

And it works, as we cleared the mountains, the clouds broke and Mr Current Bun poked his head through. As this is Spain and LPG is a bit thin on the ground we took the opportunity to nip into Almeria to re-stock. Opposite was a Mcdonalds and history was made. Tracy had her first MackiDee’s without being sick, a Chicken McRoyale was the option, only complaint from Tracy was; should have had the happy meal. Leaving the delights of Almeria, a city not on everyone’s top ten, the scenery changed dramatically as the volcanic landscape opened up. San Jose, the main town of the park was our choice to stop and we were not disappointed.

Cabo de Gata 16/04 to 24/04/2015

A parking area 50m from the beach in San Jose was our chosen spot for the next three nights. At this time of year this is a truly wonderful spot, unlike summer the crowds have not arrived, unlike winter the shops and restaurants are open. The setting of San Jose with its golden Beach within the bay is memorable, sitting having dinner in one of the beachside restaurants will live on for a long time.

On our first foray into the town we spotted an illegally parked homie by the beach with two faces we recognised, John and B. After a quick exchange we jumped in their wagon and directed them to the parking area. Here we are, all parked up.

San Jose Parking

Bike Ride 17/04/2015

The first event of our Cabo de Gata ‘triathlon’ was the 30Km bike ride to Isleta del Moro and back. While this was no Via Verde in length it made up for it with its hilliness, there was never a flat piece the entire journey but the excellent electric bikes made short work of the inclines and we were able to zip past less fortunate souls than ourselves pushing cycles up hills. This is a beautiful place with classic volcanic features of peaked domes, craters and plugs in abundance interspersed with white villages and traditional windmills like the one below:

If we thought San Jose was beautiful then Isleta blows it out of the water. Stunning, pure and simple. A rustic village set upon a small peninsula and surrounded by majestic extinct Volcanos. We had coffee on the terrace before heading up to the headland for lunch. While we were here we made the decision that Isleta was going to be our venue for the sea debut and third leg of our Triathlon, kayaking. The sea here was calm and there were many nooks and crannies to explore.

Some pictures of Isleta and Tracy with her new padded bum cycling gear.

Brenda Wiggins

Isleta del Moro

Quay Isleta Del Moro

Iselta Del Moro Pier

Iselta Del Moro Kayak Arena

In the evening we went to a beachside restaurant and had a wonderful time with John & B where Tracy and I shared a freshly caught Sea Bream, J&B a Paella.

10Km Walk 18/04/2015

Fresh from the success of our bike ride we kept our toned bodies in tip-top condition by walking westwards along the cliff path to view the beach of Playa los Genoveses with J&B. This walk also allows a panoramic view of San Jose from on high and here it is;

San Jose

The walk ended with Ice-creams all round. Gotta keep the calories up with all this exercise. Naughtily that evening we had a Barbie in the car park.

Drive 19/04/2015

Sunday, let’s go for a drive and then head for a campsite as our water was getting low. We decided to head around the coast to the town of Cabo de Gata itself taking in the Bird Sanctuary at Salina del Cabo de Gata, aviary gold we were told. The area around Almeria is the European centre for the growing of the Tomato, the winter variety being Rasa and the summer delivers the darker Comato. To the traveller it makes not a jot of difference as far as the eye can see the area is covered in white plastic sheeting with only shanty towns of the African migrant workers breaking the monotony. This was our journey until arriving at the windswept town of San Miguel del Cabo de Gata, gateway to aforementioned gold. This time we were going to bag Flamingos by the thousand.

We approached the hide with muted excitement and then foolishly we forgot we were in Spain. As soon as we got sat fifty giddy cyclists arrived talking, shouting and taking pictures. If there were a flamingo to be seen they were now well on their way to Kenya. Disappointed we left. Hope was on hand as another hide was available that involved a walk to get to. This was empty and through the binos we saw our first flamboyance of Flamingos on the one leg and eating. Marvellous. We carried on past the beachcombers and headed for the photogenic rocks and emblem of the national park of Cabo de Gata. From here we re-traced our steps and headed to the campsite of Los Escullos and a rendezvous with J&B. Here are a couple of pictures:

Cabo de Gata

Cabo de Gata and us

Blown Away 19/04 – 22/04/2015

The plan was to stay a night, change over our water and complete our Triathlon the next day. However somebody of a higher authority than ours decided to put on their windy trousers and blew in a fiery one for the next three days. We spent the time writing and posting the blogs, doing the washing, trying to adjust the headlights, a miserable failure, sadly saying goodbye to J&B as they headed northwards and watching the weather forecast. Good luck to you and safe travels Mr & Mrs S and hope to catch up with you soon.

John Bee and Tracy

John Bee and Tracy

San Jose Again 22/04 to 23/04/2105

Our plan this time was to leave the campsite, take in the botanical gardens and the goldmine at Rodalquilar and camp overnight at Las Negras. But before all that we were to go to Isleta for the Kayaking. Although the wind had dropped the sea was still displaying the wrong characteristics for kayaking and so we parked up and waited. And waited. And waited. When we realised things were not going to improve we upped sticks and headed for the Goldmine. Foolishly we forgot we were in Spain and it was shut, same for the Botanical gardens. Pictures of the goldmine:

Disused Gold Mine

View from Gold Mine

Back in the van on onwards to Las Negras, a village in a sheltered bay and hopefully the new venue for our kayaking.

Have you ever wondered what happens to people with baggy trousers (we like to call them shitters), dreadlocks and yappy dogs go to when they are pensioners? Well they come here to Las Negras, last resting place of the old and decrepit traveller. The Shangri-La of the great unwashed is not Bath, it is here. A motely town of one-horse proportions with not a lot going for it, think of it as a thorn between the two roses of San Jose and Aqua Amarga. We took some pictures and left and ended up back in San Jose and a Pizza.

The one horse of Las Negras

The one horse of Las Negras

Las Negras

Las Negras

Kayaking 23/04/2015

The weather looked great, not a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind in the air. Off to our original spot of Isleta. We sort of found some meaningless tasks to do while we both secretly plucked up courage. Tracy hoovered, I took the headlight to pieces again. Our kayaking experience to date was half an hour on the Grand Union Canal, a place not known for rip-tides, cross-currents or back-wash. We decided not to use the engine and go for full manual power.

The kayak was inflated, pressure, check, life-jackets, check, aqua shoes, check, paddles, check, keys in waterproof bag, check, back-up pump, check, repair kit, check, replacement keel,, check.

What we forgot to check were all the white horses dancing just beyond the breakers or the fact it was high tide, or the storm that had blown for three days was still present. I put Tracy upfront as a sort of figurehead with myself as the Steve Redgrave powerhouse at the stern. We were completely soaked before either of us were inside the kayak. Every wave sent the boat spinning 90 degrees to broadside.

We got Tracy in first with the plan for me to push the kayak beyond the surf before I joined her. Unfortunately the water was too deep and the current to strong, so I jumped in. We now spent the next ten minutes with me shouting ‘get it straight in to the waves and paddle’ and Tracy getting hit full in the face by another wave. Each wave forced us back inshore and delivered another few gallons into our now fast sinking canoe. Was I going to give up? No way, not when I was sitting in the back and laughing uncontrollably as another wave pounded into Tracy’s right cheek. But all good things come to an end and we sunk.

We managed to drag the thing ashore and empty it of water. The kayaking seems not to be our strongest suit in the Triathlon but we will try again. We have to as I have not laughed so much in ages, if not ever.

A picture of the Kayak venue with the gear drying out.

Isleta del Moro after the sinking

Aqua Amarga 23/04 – 24/04/2105

After drying everything off we had a good hot shower in the van and headed to the town of Aqua Amarga just a little further up the coast. We parked on the beach here:

This is a good place to be and hopefully if the weather stays good we will stay here a few days. Here are some pictures:

Agua Amarga main square

The sea here looks calmer than Isleta and I am trying my creepy best to get Tracy in the kayak again, fingers cross. My only regret in the previous failed attempt is that we didn’t have an action cam strapped to Tracy’s head so we could have captured each battering in HD Wide-screen gorgeousness. But in the meantime we made a movie for you to see this wonderland that in our opinion at this time of year is far better than the Alhambra.

The link to the video: Cabo de Gata

Love to all

Take care

E&T

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