Tuesday, October 23, 2007

14 October 2007

Slow start this morning and was it nice. I went to bed with thoughts of putting some miles behind me, but after my third cup of coffee I decided to order lunch which lingered until about 12:45 (mostly due to the poor service of a young girl that so obviously stayed out until the sun started to rise). Not an auspicious start to a day of travel, but that was nothing compared to getting on the wrong road out of town. It took me two hours to get sorted out on the right interstate, but most of that was of my own doing. Once I got lost I decided to explore some of the area and one thing led to another and I found myself way off course.

I made up some time on the motorway, but still didn’t come close to the target city to stop. I did make it a quarter of the way through the scenic route, but pushed on through Mojacar, Spain to the next town down the coast just assuming that the towns would be similar. I couldn’t be further from the truth. Mojacar was a busy tourist, beach resort that was very built up, had lots of restaurants filled with people. Since it was only 4:00 pm I pushed on hoping to settle in around 4:30 or 5:00, which should be the next town over. The next town down the coast was Carboneras Playa. It was 29 km from Mojacar, over a very narrow winding pass overlooking the ocean and the sparkling white buildings of Carboneras. What a sight! Most of the coastal towns in Almeria are “white towns” which comes from the color of the houses. This is a Moorish tradition that continues to this day.

After riding through town once in search of a hotel (there were several 1 star hostels that had a look of ½ star at best) that was open. It took two circles of the town, but I finally found one that is right on the beach and had parking right out front. The El Dorado Hotel appears to have had a hey-day, but that day has long passed for it. Chipped paint on the doors, peach paint in the rooms, astro-turf leading up to the pool from the rooms and a five pound key fob that occupies the entire cubby that holds all notes for room 118 (not to mention that when I put it in my pocket I appear to be priapic).

By this time it is 5:15 and I am getting hungry, so I go in search of food. Since I have been through town a couple of times I have noted that most restaurants are close or have only a few people in it and most of them are drinking. I stopped at five restaurants on the beachfront that seemed to be the center of that area…all closed the kitchen at 5:00 (it is Sunday after all), but they would pour me a beer. I moved on. I went to the center of new town. The Pastelleria was open and had a big crowd…they served ├ęclairs, doughnuts, pastries and coffee. They all looked good, but it is almost 5:45 and I am not in the mood for sweets. I walked two blocks to the right – 6 more closed. I walked two blocks to the left – 8 more closed (or just serving beer). Back on the bike. Irish pub – full but doesn’t serve food. Chinese – closed. Supermarket – closed. Pizza – stopped serving food at 5:00. Everything in town is closed and it is now 6:00 pm and I am watching the old men roll the sidewalks up realizing that I should have stayed in Mojacar. How was I to know that this town closed down by 5:00 pm? I have never seen anything like it. Even in the smallest town there is usually one thing open late.

Back on the bike, over the very narrow winding pass hoping that that town didn’t just shut down while I was searching this one for somewhere to sleep and eat. No such luck! Or should I say, I was in luck. Everything was open with many things to choose from. I am back on track and am now happily fed. I get back on the bike and head back over the very narrow winding pass to Carboneras, but now the sun is setting and the pass could get tricky. It didn’t, but it did open all the right colors for the sunset as I crested the top of the pass. Mother Nature’s used all the colors in her palette tonight, and for that, I am happy that this crappy little town doesn’t serve food after 5:00 on Sunday.

Tomorrow I will find myself further down the road, perhaps as far as Gibraltar, but I think that might be a bit of a stretch. I want to continue on this scenic detour and find myself at Cabo de Gata for lunch at the beach. From there it will be back on the interstate and grinding kilometers. Looks to be about 400 to Gibraltar from here and that is a lot of time in the saddle. If I do that, I may just stay in Gib for two nights and then head up to Seville early on Wednesday. We shall see…

Not a big time town
Can’t find anything to eat
Been on all the streets

Motorway is fast
Upright in saddle gives aches
More time will ease all

Turbulent fast roads
Don’t want a dent in my head
Caution is my friend

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