3 months later


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Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Grazalema
April 4th 2007
Published: April 4th 2007
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Back in the UKBack in the UKBack in the UK

Our site at Itchy Feet in Cornwall. we overlooked fields with a view across to the sea.
Here we are, 3 months later

At last, a Wi FI internet connection and a chance to send a blog. Knowing we would have limited internet access I have been writing blog notes as we travel, as from experience, I knew I would not remember what we had done or what to include.
So at the risk of boring those of you we met up with in Jan I have left the content of the blog as it is, covering events from our return.

With our now perfected expert timing our return to the UK was arranged only a week before our flight, on 23rd Dec.
I thought Christmas had arrived early when I got 4 seats on the plane. Although, this was not just by chance but hard earned. Having noted prior to take off the rows opposite us were empty, I asked the hostess if I could move. “Yes” was the reply “but not until the plane is airborne, because of the balance”. As I am not the world’s most confident flyer this worried me a little. I know I am not stick thin but surely if the moving of one fairly small person affects the
Luggershall  BayLuggershall  BayLuggershall Bay

Our first glimpse of the village, as we walked along the coastal path. When we got there we found the pub was closed for renovation!
stability of the plane on take off to me it didn’t say much for our chance of getting home. Anyway, all flying nerves were forgotten as we bounced through much turbulence because I spent the time assessing the competition and deciding I was in with a good chance for the seats.
I concentrated on that seatbelt sign waiting for my opportunity.
As soon as the sign “binged” and went off I was like a greyhound out of a trap, I sprinted across the aisle to claim my prize. Even the Airhostess was impressed and commented on the speed of my manoeuvre. This made for a pleasant flight as it enabled me to stretch out for a snooze. I now know that a five ft person actually only needs 3 seats for a comfortable flight because when I woke, to find the aircraft descending into Gatwick following a short 8 hr nap there was a breakfast tray balanced just above my head on the vacant seat. I didn’t know whether to be pleased the flight had passed so swiftly, or a bit miffed that a wonderful meal had passed me by.


So, much visiting and catching up took
A few visitorsA few visitorsA few visitors

Marion and a few of her friends dropped by..... and all got a seat.
place and before we knew it an enjoyable Christmas had come and gone and it was time to greet our home at Southampton docks.

A word of advice for any of you who get stressed out over the Christmas season, this is the way to do it.
1) Avoid all the preparation by hanging out somewhere where Christmas is a low key celebration, which strangely enough for the land of consumerism it is in America...
2) Take an 8 hr flight during which you not only change time zones but seasons.
3) And then take advantage of everyone else’s hard work and thoroughly enjoy the holiday. Perfect!

Whilst we were enjoying Christmas with our friends and family our home was on the high seas, wending its way from Georgia, having left on boxing day.
On Jan 20th we set off for Southampton to be re-united with our Rig. Our first port of call was the UK customs and Excise office to get the clearance to pick up the Rig.
We turned up loaded with paperwork to prove we fulfilled the requirements for private importation, it turned out we had substantially over -. prepared
With the several carrier bags of documents around our feet we answered about 2 questions, completed a form, waited for about 5 minutes and were on our way clutching the requisite documents required to retrieve our home and get it registered.

We were very pleased to see the rig parked on the dock side. Upon close inspection we noted she had survived the journey with no damage done and only a few small items pinched. Can anyone tell me just what type of person is it that needs a box of matches, an imperial allen key, a screwdriver set and a tin opener? All insignificant items I hear you say, maybe but not when you come to use them and find them missing, especially when you are expecting Graeme’s mum for dinner and end up hacking open the tin of tomatoes with a swiss army knife. Don’t do this at home kids………

Reunited we set off on our first journey. This took us along those “ you cant possibly drive that on those narrow” type of roads” to Cornwall where we were going to get the necessary conversion work done required to make the Rig legal and usable in the UK.

For
OopsOopsOops

Oh, now I see, its a bit of a situation.
those of you interested in the conversion technical minutiae, here goes……. ..
The electrical grid in North America runs on 110v at a frequency of 60 hertz. Europe on the other hand uses 220v at 50 hertz. This means we had to drop the voltage coming into the rig where we plug into the mains, from 220 - 110, the frequency cannot (practicably) be changed. That’s the easy bit. As all of our appliances are 110v we kept most of the sockets US Style but had some 220v fitted to cater for any new equipment we might acquire
Next priority was to replace the DVD player to a multi region, fit a satellite receiver and have our automatic self seeking satellite dome reprogrammed to work in Europe.
Now the plumbing bits The USA propane / LPG tank fittings are different to the UK standard which are different again to European connections.
The American hose fittings are also a different size and thread and there is the age old problem of imperial and metric. Then there’s the problem of………… no, I suspect that’s already more than enough information.

Anyway following the uneventful journey it was dusk as, we turned down
Animal cruelty!Animal cruelty!Animal cruelty!

So that's what they use all those soft toys for. The Duty Free shop looked like an animal experimental lab.
the one width country lane to our destination, which was a lovely US type RV site occupied by approx 20 other large RV units. It was really quite strange seeing so many together here in the UK. This was a good way for us to start RVing in England as this is probably the best / only site specifically for American RVs in the UK or possibly Europe. It was as easy as it would get for us as far as camping goes.

Whist the work was being done on the Rig we stayed in a cottage in the grounds. This left us free to explore the surrounding areas. We had forgotten just how pretty Cornwall is. We did some beautiful coastal walks, ate some excellent food and drank a few, oh so lovely real (warm) ales in 15th C pubs.
We did have to stop ourselves from constantly saying “How much!” and getting quite crabby over paying vast amounts of money for parking, something you just don’t do in most of America, after all you are going to spend money in their shops.

Our conversion work was completed and the Rig registered
We had the added bonus
ToroToroToro

Several years ago roadside hoardings were banned in Spain. However, these bulls had become such a tradition that, after a public outcry, they were retained, minus the company name.
of all our electrical goods working We had been told quite categorically in the US that our TV, washing machine and possibly the microwave / convection oven would not work in the UK. We listened to all the experts! but decided to leave them in, partly to see if this was true and partly because its very difficult to remove a fully fitted washing machine through a motorhome. As we ate our hot supper whilst watching the TV, the sound turned up a little to cover the noise of the washing machine whizzing around we decided it was a good job we hadn’t listened and taken them out.
We were ready to move on.

We set off for Sussex where we were going to stay at Tawnies Nurseries in Birdham. There is a camp site there which has one site for a big rig. (Much time consuming research by Marion found this for us) and it was as near to “old home” and family we could get.

The lovely early spring weather we experienced in Cornwall turned into the type of weather I had just spent 18 months telling our N American friends “it’s not like that
What does that sign say?What does that sign say?What does that sign say?

There was no sign at the other end of this road so we only discovered we should not have been there after the event.
all the time you know”.
It rained and rained and then rained some more. As the puddle around us grew into a lake, we felt that perhaps we should actually be in an Ark not a RV. , Each morning when I pulled the curtains I expected to see a line of rather damp but patiently waiting animals peering in the window awaiting embarkation

This weather lead to our first real problem in 18 months of travel, in fact it led to Graeme’s first ever “really stuck” problem in his driving career.
We had parked OK but the rain had saturated the earth and following a move for “servicing” purposes whilst manoeuvring back into a really tight space the rear wheel sank into the mud.
Graeme had limited choices, we could not reverse as it just dug a bigger trench for the wheel, and as he was facing only a few feet away from the nurseries glass houses he most definitely could not try to lurch forward (moral of this tale , people with glass houses should not let large RVs park nearby)
By this time we had attracted the attention of some of the owner’s family all
Breath in.........Breath in.........Breath in.........

No problem, he obviously didn't read the sign either.
of whom were quite interested in the state of affairs.
We assessed the situation, by now the icy slanting piercing rain had begun to penetrate, not only our clothing but our skin. Mrs “Tawny” said “Oh just leave it, go inside and make supper” Considering we were only inches away from demolishing their livelihood and completely blocking the access to their house I was quite impressed with her cool attitude.
.
So suddenly, that precautionary breakdown policy came into it own.
Over the phone we explained to the break down man that we could not go backwards or forward and actually we were rather tightly parked!
As it is not easy to tow a motor home we were quite interested to see just how the professionals would deal with this situation.

The phone call resulted in the prompt arrival of the breakdown man complete with trailer + tractor. As he set out to rescue us he showed no particular surprise at the situation saying “oh, this should not take too long”

Although at first he was confident of moving a 33,000 Lb /14ton bus it was not quite as easy as he first assessed. It was when the tractor started to move towards the Rig rather then the Rig moving out of the mud he had to reconsider his tactics. Following several attempts to anchor the tractor we were eventually extracted from the mud. Gratefully we parked up and collapsed inside.

One nice thing of being here was our family and friends were able to visit us and see the Rig. Although most had seen it on the blog they were still surprised how big and comfortable it is in “real life” and can now understood how we had managed to survive the last 20 months without too much difficulty

We had decided to take the Ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbau and then drive via Madrid to Grazalema in Andalusia. As we headed along the A27 to Portsmouth I realised it had been far too many weeks since I had last sat in my navigators chair,

The ferry trip commenced with the captains calm understated announcement that it could be a force 8 and therefore a “little choppy” at times. As neither Graeme nor I suffer from sea sickness (we hoped) we were not too bothered.
Whilst in the channel the ship rode the waves bow to stern, but as it entered the Bay of Biscay the motion changed to a side to side roll. That night as I moved up and down my bunk I felt like that bubble in a
Spirit level, comfortable only in that brief moment I could stay in the middle.

It is an interesting collection of people who, on a wet rainy February weekend decide to take a “mini cruise” across the Bay of Biscay but it made for an interesting journey.

Some months ago, whilst talking about Wales with an American he asked if it was “open” in the winter. (Must have thought it was a theme park or something) At the time I thought that was hilarious although I was quite impressed he had, at least, heard of Wales. Now I think he knew something I didn’t. Wales obviously was open as a vast amount of them had left the place to take this Mini cruise Coming from Wales they obviously thought the howling wind and lashing rain was just a light summer shower as most of them appeared to be dressed for a warm Mediterranean night. A considerable amount of stilettos, mini skirts glittery
So thats where the wine cork comes from.So thats where the wine cork comes from.So thats where the wine cork comes from.

Grazalema has a forest of these oaks. The bark is stripped every 8-9 years and it gradually regrows, the most recently stripped ones are a lovely deep chestnut colour.
tops and white flesh was to be seen and that’s not the youngsters!

We decided to go for Supper in the buffet restaurant. In itself this would have been a reasonably pleasant way in which to pass the time but in a force 8 gale offered the added attraction of free entertainment.
People were either moon walking or lurching everywhere and the women, who were tottering around on their Stilettos and glitzy sparkling outfits were like Torville and Dean without skates. Wine was splashed rather than poured and soup was probably the least popular starter of the day.
My (almost empty) wine glass hit the floor, which was not so bad as it quickly reappeared miraculously refilled.

We passed the time easily enough people watching, watching films, watching the huge waves, attending the whale watching lectures and avoiding the Hi de Hi entertainment, a rather interesting performance of “Summer Nights”, OK so I did see 5 minutes worth.

As we set off towards Madrid we were wondering just what adventures we would meet. We knew our rig was rather large for Europe but had decided we would give it a go until we decide to sell it.
 "Pink Village" "Pink Village" "Pink Village"

Grazalema has beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Often they turn the white buildings a wonderful range of colours.
We also knew that the roads in Europe would be fine; it would be the camping that would be the problem. As Graeme has more then the average amount of experience we decided that although it would be more restricting we (he) would manage.

How different it was here in Europe compared to America.
One main difference we have noticed is how much more reserved campers are. (No surprise there really, as if we didn’t know that). Campers will pull up in their vehicles, park side by side, and only speak if you absolutely make them. In the US if you spend a night parked next to some one by the next day you are a long term friend and invited to spend Christmas with them (a genuine invitation).
In the US people would knock on our door to say “ hey,well done, one day I will get myself a rig like this” but so far our experience here when you park up is that you can almost feel the Tut Tutting, the annoyance and the cold stares from other campers , (other than the Spanish) . Although some vehicles are towing and therefore as long as us, we
Left a bit!Left a bit!Left a bit!

I don't know what the problem was, there was loads of space Oh thats my coat hanging on the rusty nail.
just look so much bigger. We are not sure if it is because of our size they don’t talk to us or that’s just how it is. Perhaps our first experience was not typical.


Our first destination was Grazalema in Andalusia. It is one of the famous Pueblos Blanco’s (white villages) situated amid the spectacular Parque Sierra de Grazalema. The Sierra de Grazalema offers spectacular scenery, precipitous gorges, rocky summits, and beautiful river valleys. Some of the hillsides are scattered with the ancient pinsapo pine tree, a relic of the great Mediterranean fir forests of approximately 2.5 million yrs ago. They can grow up to 30 m high and live for up to 500 years it is amongst this scenery at 830 meters Grazalema rests between the craggy limestone peaks which form this beautiful natural park. It is popular for its wonderful walking, bird watching, rock climbing and for us sherry drinking and people watching.
Despite popular belief it is not strictly true that the “rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain” as in fact it falls here, in Grazalema. It is (In) famous for having the highest rainfall in the country, about 2.5mts / 94in
Typical StreetTypical StreetTypical Street

After walking up and down these streets for a few weeks my legs now resemble the shape of those famouse Iberian hams. It has to be good for you!
a year
The guide books describes it as one of the most beautiful of the “white villages accessed via tortuous winding mountain roads on which only in the last 25yrs tourists have made their way along”.

So, Ok then, just in case life should become too easy we started with one of the most inaccessible place to get our Rig to.

The last time we drove this route was in a nice little hire car, how different it was in the Rig. Actually, although at times it was a little narrow and bendy it would have been OK, after all the local buses take this route. However it is the local speedy oncoming traffic that makes no allowance at all for oncoming vehicles large or small that made it a bit nerve racking. We immediately hatched a plan to look up the time the local bus left to follow it out when it was time for us to leave.

Actually there was a purpose for this journey. Just before we left England for the States we had come out to Spain to see the demolition commence on a building / renovation project Graeme & our friend Harry had here.
20 months later we returned to find it almost 99% completed and were arriving just in time to organise the finishing touches.
Harry, who had been over several times during the process had identified several place that could be suitable for us to park so when we arrived we scouted around to choose a space. We wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible so eventually settled for an area on the top of the hill above the village. It was only once I had walked to the far side I realised that we may have been inconspicuous from the village but from the other side we gleamed and twinkled like a diamond in the sun, visible from a good mile or more away.

We knew we needed to stay here for a few weeks so although it was beautiful where we were we really needed to get into a camp site. After all we were not sure just how long the local police would ignore us “hiding” in the various car parks. We did move from time to time to present a different aspect but I don’t think they were fooled.
Also we experienced our first
Roof top viewRoof top viewRoof top view

This is the view from the terrace of our house. It has a 360 degree vista.
dodgy episode Early one Sunday morning whilst in that semi conscious state we became aware of a feeling “ there is something strange going on here” Gradually we realised that there was someone outside at the back of the Rig, as we could feel the rig moving. As we were thinking of investigating a tremendously loud “Thud” rocked the bus.
Graeme leapt out of bed and after pausing for a brief moment to put on some clothes rushed out of the rig to see what was happening. I also leapt up and paused to put on clothes but also stopped to grab the baseball bat.
As non gun totting Brits we had invested a few $ in this bat to use as our form of protection whilst in the US and Mexico. We had never had to use it, even for sport
I emerged from the Rig swinging wildly. I didn’t know if I was going to protect Graeme or bash the thieves, it didn’t matter really, I felt this was a good time to make our investment worthwhile.
The car disappeared into the distance. It was quite disappointing really a good swipe at the car would have been quite
Spanish ladiesSpanish ladiesSpanish ladies

The Spanish are very fond of their fiestas.
satisfying.
It turns out it was probably a group of youngsters returning from the Saturday all night disco who decided to pinch our bikes. They tried releasing the wheels to remove them and when that didn’t work they just tried to force them off. The bikes however were so firmly attached to the back of the rig, by so many methods that they ricocheted back and hit the rear of the rig ( about 2 foot distance) making quite a large hole in our up to now immaculate paint work. It was this that finally really woke us up.
We decided it was probably a one off but for peace of mind we would have to move to a camp site.

Graeme reckied the only local camp site (for tents) and decided that it might just be possible for us to squeeze in through the gates. He also noted that there was a perfect area for us; the only problem was it was full of building materials. Still it is always worth asking
We (for this read Marion, our friend who lives in the village) spoke to the Boss. After at least 10 minutes of loud aggressive sounding, gesticulating
The next tour is at .............The next tour is at .............The next tour is at .............

As we walked through the village up to the rig we collected a few people to visit us.
conversation he paused for breath, we looked expectantly at Marion who translated…….. “If you can get in that’s fine with him”. That’s it! all that and that’s what he said? Basically yes,
“What about the wood?” Oh yes that will start to be moved by 10.00 Monday and when clear you can move in.
Monday……. Nothing moving. Tuesday not a lot happening, Wednesday, man with small pulley thing starts moving one plank at a time, it was an interesting if not a little painful, system to observe, Thursday things really hotting up now, several planks at a time piled on the trolley and by Friday miraculously space almost clear.

So now it was up to us, could we get in? The entrance had about every angle to consider. It was on a hill, sloped side to side, curved to the right whilst the parking area was to the left, and we had possibly a 5cm clearance through the stone gate area, which as a final challenge had a rather nice rusty nail sticking out of it Uhm……….

Graeme lined up the Rig and reversed, slowly edging through the gap. I could only see one side to help judge
Zahara 13th century Moorish built castle towerZahara 13th century Moorish built castle towerZahara 13th century Moorish built castle tower

Zahara de la Sierra It was following the recapture of this castle by the Muslims that provoked the Catholic Monarchs to launch the last phase of the Reconquest of Andalucia eventually leading to the fall of Granada.
the space and could not get around to the front to watch the height but no problem, because by now we had a small audience all of whom offered lots of (obviously all in Spanish) advice, guidance and hand signals. Ignoring us all Graeme gradually inched his way through, before we knew it we were in, accompanied by a round of applause from all watching.

So we settled in for a few weeks. It was time to enjoy life in an Andalusia village, sort out the house, and enjoy the area and our friends company.
We had caused a bit of a stir. People walked up from the village to gaze at the Rig. Sometimes when we looked outside or opened the door we would find people examining parts of the bus. Our campsite managers Pepa & Pepe suddenly become very popular.
People knew they had visited us in the Rig and called to see them hoping to come in with them. So every now and then we held a little open hour.

So the week or two we thought we would spend here quickly slipped into Spanish time. Day after day was busy, whilst nothing much really
 "Roughing it!!  " "Roughing it!!  " "Roughing it!! "

Graeme at the "watering hole The locals must have wondered what we were doing with the gallons of water we collected every day. Believe me tipping 10 gallons at a time into a 100 gallon tank takes a while to fill it.
ever happened. It is so difficult to achieve anything rapidly here, its not even “Manana” more like Nunca (never) a couple of general examples follow.
Simple task number one,
Order the glass for the internal door. With Marion acting as interpreter we set of to order the glass, easy really. The glass place is in the next town and the man who fits it lives in the village, Oh even better, in the same street in fact. So, we choose the glass, give address and phone number, are told that Diego will come soon. We wait a day or so, and then wait a few more, Marion regularly enquires of the whereabouts of the glass man, nothing. We see Diego around village, and ask again. We then lose interest for a while. One more time, we ask again “any chance?” No not really. To date, no sighting

Simple task number 2.
Graeme needed to change the name on the council tax bill and then pay it. (Those of you reading this in the UK eat your heart out; it’s all of a few Euros) He also had to obtain a form which comes from the police station.
Should
I need a drink!I need a drink!I need a drink!

Graeme and Patrick enjoying much needed sustenance after strenuous morning's work!
take about 10 minutes? Oh no more like 10 days, here’s how it went.
Identify papers and fill in form. Find Patrick to help translate and walk 3 minute journey to town. This bit we achieved quite easily it was downhill from here
Go to the council office to pay bill, council say you don’t pay it here you pay it at the bank
Go to the bank to pay the bill but bill now out of date so bank has to request a new bill from council office in Ubrique (next village)
Bill sent to the Bank on Monday. (What we didn’t know was it has to be paid on Monday)
Go to the bank on Tuesday to pay bill, can’t pay bill as one day late. Bank now had to request another bill.

We head to bar for much needed coffee

Meanwhile Patrick goes to Police station to request form,
Police station is empty.
He tries again, Policeman not quite sure about form, offers to phone Ronda….. Soon…….when not busy!….
Back to bar for coffee, Policeman also has coffee.
Back to Police station….. Policeman present, but no phone call…… may make it soon
Back to Bar, more coffee. Give up for the day.

A few days later we go to Ronda to collect the form from the police station only to find very long queues as a) it is Passport day and b) it was the first week the police station had reopened following its closure for corruption and fraud. We didn’t feel too hopeful here so swiftly moved on to the Solicitor who Hooray …. miraculously has copy of form.
In delight we return to the village to pay the bill only to find bank has shut early as it is Easter later in the week.

Return to bar, this time order beer
Final score… Spanish system 2 …. Us Nil, but high on coffee

Originally we were told we would have to leave the campsite by the Easter week as it is so busy and we were occupying 3 spaces, but by the time that week arrived they had got used to us and said we could stay. Ferdinand, the owner, explained that it would be very noisy and crowded (we had been the only people here for most of our stay) with parties all night long. We decided as it would be almost impossible to book anywhere else over Easter and as we liked here and, strangely enough, still had things to do we would stay and enjoy the celebrations.

Easter is a huge celebration in this part of Spain. It is known as Semana Santa and lasts from Thursday to the Sunday, (although obviously for the Bank it’s a few days longer!)
Throughout the towns and villages there are parades and celebrations, dances and bull runs.

Unlike the usual joyful fiestas here this event is an expression of mass mourning and public repentance. Quite different to the UK where Easter is about chocolate eggs and Easter bonnets. During the celebrations this is symbolised by the gathering of the Nazarenos
I was keen to see some traditional aged customs performed and as I had seen interesting posters of these people and had crossed the Bull Run off my list of entertainment this was the outing for me.

There is more than a striking resemblance between the outfits of the Nazarenos and those of the Klu Klux Klan, although they are more colourful and the wearers go out in the day time. I learned that they
Arabic starsArabic starsArabic stars

I love these natural light vents in the roof of the Arabic baths, Jerez
symbolically cover their faces because of the shame of their past sin. Perhaps the KKK covers their faces not because they are cowards after all but because of their current sins?

We had gone to visit the village of Setenil famous for its houses that are built into the cliffs.
By complete chance we arrived in time for the parade, partly thanks to the sudden onset snowstorm which had driven us down from the hillside where we had been exploring the roman ruins!
The narrow streets were decorated, and thronging with people. It was noisy and colourful. We didn’t understand the significance of the various groups
( must find out) so it seemed a bit strange to see the spookily hooded Nazarenos, sombre bare footed shackled folk carrying crosses, Jesus on a beautifully ornate plinth covered by flower petals and Roman Centurions accompanied by the modern looking gun twirling, axe carrying dancing soldiers, which by the way were very good.


In-between our frustrating tasks we did manage to do some things other than drink coffee.
We went walking and visited surrounding villages and towns. Whichever way you left the village the scenery never failed to take
uphill struggleuphill struggleuphill struggle

With its steep narrow streets and low electric lines it occured to me that if you are going to help carry one of these, there could be easier places. They had to execute 3 point turns to take the corners.
our breath away.
One favourite route was across the Puerto de los Palomas (Doves’ pass) to the next village of Zahara. The pass peaks at 1331 meters offering spectacular views across the lake and the village which clings on to the side of the mountain, its famous 13C tower outlined against the sky.
Keeping your eye on the road is difficult as each hairpin bend reveals another stunning view, it is also tempting to watch the Griffin vultures as they ride the thermals whirling and spinning effortlessly, often almost along side you.

We visited the 12th century Alcazar in Jerez which very thoughtfully is conveniently situated next to the Tio Pepe Bodega. Sherry is considered a food here so no there is no guilty conscience whatever time of day you have a glass. The Moorish architecture is just so beautiful and balanced. Everything including the gardens is restful and soothing.

Earlier as we travelled through central Spain I was reading about the rich Moorish culture and heritage in this area between the 12 - 15th century. Then a thought struck us, consider this……….. If the Catholic Spanish had not reclaimed the land Spain would have remained a Moorish / Muslim country. What if it had? and these people then sailed to explore the New World? .
America would now have a huge Mexican / Muslim population right next door…
That wall would have been built years ago!


For us this area of Spain does not offer the most desirable cuisine. At its worst it is a vegetarian’s nightmare and at best, eating out twice a month could possibly be once too often. Once again we are so glad that in the rig we cater for ourselves.

We soon noted the culinary connection to Mexico where pig rules. Again we learned that “no it’s not pork” does not mean the dish will not contain pig in some other form. Here chopped up pig does not count as pork, pig or carne. Chopped up pig is in fact perfectly fine for none pig eaters as it is in tiny, tiny bits.
A typical favourite Andulucian breakfast dish appears to be some sort of pig fat thing on toast. I know regional diets reflect the availability of local produce and develop to support the calorific needs of the working people but what I don’t understand is why these villages are not full of people with coronary heart disease.

One evening we were eating with Pepe & Pepa and some other Spanish campers they asked how we liked the local food and then went on to tell us how Spanish food was much healthier than the food in other European countries. I glanced down as I was thinking of how to reply and my gaze rested on the plate containing a large quivering lump of fat which they were all tucking into, Healthy fat I’m sure. There must be something in the diet and lifestyle here though, because you just don’t see any fat people and if you blink you can miss the elderly people race past you as they ascend the steep village streets.


Over Easter the lovely mountain weather took a turn for the worse. Whilst the UK was basking in 70 degrees we were receiving some of that annual 84 inches of precipitation, in all possible forms. Rain, hail and snow fell between brief glimpses of sun. We were parked at the top of the village and were often shrouded in rain cloud, we then realised that if we ventured out down
Still alive, the dog that isStill alive, the dog that isStill alive, the dog that is

Sue and Terry are not really holding Benny up, at 16 he is still quite perky. It was great to see him again. Thanks Sue
the hill it was not so bad and if you got in the car and drove to the valley it was several degrees warmer.

We were still here the week following Easter and the camp site was closing. No problem though, Fernando locked the gates, gave us a key and said to call if any problem. Oh and please come for lunch. Now we know we have been here to long.
We were keen to get away but things kept cropping up. Following heavy rainfall we appeared to have an indoor waterfall in the basement of the house which we didn’t recall agreeing to in the original plans!
No problem they said once we pointed it out. Well it wasn’t to them until we saw it. Now it’s their problem (we hope)

Whilst being here we realised we are but a short hop to Morocco and were deciding whether or not to go. Following much encouragement from our friends Pete and Jane, and a very positive report on a RV site from a guy with a large RV we decided it sounded like fun. However we should be back mid May and we are still here……..
So will let you know

Oh Current status of achievements ………… bill not paid, name not changed, no glass in door, and no kitchen yet.

PS Having just commented to each other that nothing on the rig had broken for quite a while the drain plug for the water heater snapped off.
If we did not get this repaired we would be unable to “dry camp” or survive for long as we would not be able to heat our own water.
The mentioned earlier the difficulty is that the rig stuff is all imperial measurements and the continent is metric so we thought we would only be able to get the part from an RV dealer. To get it sent from the UK would take several days and cost an incredible amount for one little plastic bit.
Whilst thinking about it we asked Marion if there was a plumber in the village. She took us up the street to a building site and asked if any one could help.
The plumber left the site, drove up to the rig assessed the situation, returned to the village, had the exact part we required (in imperial measurements?) removed the broken piece, fitted the new one and all for €10.
Miracles do happen………..

PPS. We read of the bombings in Casablanca, Morocco and decided that perhaps it was a sign to remind us we were meant to be coming back to sell the rig. So we are heading north (slowly) to put the rig up for sale……………… fancy the lifestyle? Offers anyone?

Footnote from Graeme,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Some of you may remember that we met up with Ian & Margie while we were in LA at the end of 2005, & had a lovely time with them. Unfortunately Ian was taken ill with oesophageal cancer in early August 2006, & after a hard struggle passed away on 22nd Feb. 2007.

I met him only 4 or 5 years ago whilst I was Tour Manager for 21st Century Schizoid Band. Ian joined to replace the previous drummer who had finally walked out after a long night in a hotel room in Tokyo (long story). Anyway, the Band was made up of musicians who had played with King Crimson, & that is why, on the suggestion of Robert Fripp, Ian had been asked to join.

During his 40 year + career he had played with so many other great musicians, it would take too long to list them here. However these are a few:
Bob Dylan, Don Henley, Jackson Browne, Tim Buckley, Alexis Korner, Alvin Lee, Steve Marriott, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon, The Travelling Wilburys, Ron Wood, Badfinger, Rodney Crowell, Johnny Halliday, David Lindley, Stevie Nicks, Roy Orbison, the Quireboys, Sandie Shaw, Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band, Procol Harum………..

He was a drummer of superb technique, but above all, had a wonderful feel to his playing……. I always enjoyed watching him play......However, even more importantly, he was a great bloke & a good friend.

After we had seen them in LA, we had planned to meet up again in Santa Fe, or Mexico, but as is so often the case, we never quite managed it, & now it is too late. Makes you think doesn’t it….Carpe Diem! He will be greatly missed.







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15th April 2007

You have done it again
Each time I read one of your travelogues I realize how much I miss seeing you....Moi, you crack me up....I felt as if I were stuck in the mud with you and wearing out the shoe leather whilst you tried to get paperwork done....sounds like Mexico to me....The Spaniards had all kinds of choices about what they might have left behind in the New World....why, oh why did they choose incredible inefficiency in bureaucracies????
22nd April 2007

Contact
Its 21st April, where are you at present?
25th April 2007

Steve, which Steve are you? This comment thingy does not give me any info on the sender We are still in Spain heading towards Tarragona. E mail and ID yourself Moi

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