V is coming to join us on Saturday. She’s flying into Malaga, which gives us five easy days of travelling to cover the 400+ miles between here and there. We don’t want to leave Pinos and G&L; we don’t want to rush along the distance between here and Malaga.
So it’s with lots of repeated hugs that we make our farewells. Stan will miss Daisy and Holly’s company as much as we will miss their owners. We get an open invitation to come back their way when finally homeward bound. It’s very tempting.
We stop off at Calp to pick up M’s specs. They’re not ready on time, so we discover a lake and put the kettle on. We give Stan a wander and find that the lake is home to lots and lots of flamingos. Pale pink in body with darker wing tips and then deep blue ends to their beaks. They wade, mostly heads down, lost in the lake, sifting for lunch.
Today’s discovery was the collective noun for flamingos. There are several to choose from (a stand, a colony, a regiment) but my favourite is ‘A Flamboyance’ because, set against the distant mountain tops and the huge rock of Calp dominating the skyline, nothing but such flamboyant beauties could compete. We stand gawping until we realize that we haven’t seen Stan in a while and we’re in shady, bush territory – there’s a tell-tell tale trail of loo paper.
“Stan, Stan, where are you?” He languorously trots toward us, we anxiously check his facial movements – is he licking his lips? I think not, but am too chicken to lean down and take a sniff.
M is the passenger today, I want him to have the chance to see sparkling views of sun and sea as we head out of the Jalon Valley and back towards Costa Blanca, Alicante and then Cartagena. On our right are drier sierras, they’re dustier mountain realms than we’ve been used to. To our left, ‘urbanizations’ (purpose-built satellite housing estates) merge to form an endless vista of homogenous roof tiles.
After the sense of space and tranquility of the last few days, I feel overwhelmed by the crushing populace of the cities that we pass in the van. People are everywhere…
Two warm driving hours (230C today), and M finds another example of Park4Night brilliance. A small town called Pilar de la Horadada boasts an unspoilt beach. This conurbation seamlessly blends into the towns North and South of it. But there’s a parking area that’s free, where the police don’t apparently try to move campers on.
We choose our spot and start getting sorted. A voice calls from outside. M and I pop our heads round the open side door to see a very fit British guy on his pedal bike.
“I’ve been following you round for days,” he says. “You were at Calp, Altea” and he rattles off other places we’ve stopped at.
We smile, unsure if this is a good thing.
“And I’ve been following you on Overnight Camping.”
“Oh, ok” I resist the temptation to ask: is that alright?
“Oh well, at least you know who we are now!” I cheerfully respond and there are a few more exchanges between us. He’s parked up further down the coast. A regular campervanner on the Spanish Riviera he reports how much busier it’s become in recent seasons.
“There are campers everywhere now, where there used to be just two or three.”
“Yes” I commiserate and recount our experience of tailing long lines of motorhomes around Scotland.
Then he takes a slug from his water bottle and is gone, leaving us to get food ready.
Supper done, M walks Stan. Pilar appears to be a purpose-built holiday town, full of uniform dwellings. All but six seem empty, the town is uninhabited, dormant; like sleeping beauty waiting for her visitors’ kisses before she can wake up for the summer.
Which is great for us, it’s quiet and nothing interrupts the sound of waves crashing against the pink and gold limestone rocks, except for the occasional call of a sea bird or Stan snuffling in his dreams.