Thursday night, 14thFeb
Our big flat car park in Cordoba was (just) ok for a few hours, but neither of us felt like spending the night there. Right next to a dual carriage way, unmonitored by security, it was a perfect place to get gassed/robbed. Just as we decided to move on, M found a ton of reviews all describing the horrors that have happened here.
Quick, quick, run away, run away..
Park4Night shows a new spot for the night, just a mile or two away, it gets great reviews – quiet, picturesque etc. We set off into the twilight sky, the last of the sun’s glow diminishing by the second. As visibility finally fails, we’re directed onto a narrow track – bouncy to say the least – our headlights suggest that in between the craters are just more craters. Neither of us like what we’re looking at; trouble is, it’s a narrow lane and we’re on it now. Paint-scraping foliage hems us in on both sides and there’s nowhere to make a 3-point (or 5-point or 7-point) turn.
Oh well, onwards and upwards…
The narrow gets thinner, the bushes get thicker, the night gets blacker, our hearts rise up to our throats. It goes on forever…. Well, at least a couple of miles.
Abruptly, we are stopped.
A barbed wire fence is festooned with high-vis jackets as it bars our way. We’re going no further forward, and we’re not turning round. The only way back is by reversing. Bummer.
I close my eyes and hide my face. I’ve no idea why i do this, it’s not like I can actually see anything and it’s too dark for M to see my trepidation. He’s sensibly focused on the reversing camera and rear view mirrors, squinting at the views he can barely see since he lost his variafocals some four weeks ago. I love being behind the wheel of the van under normal circumstances, it’s a great drive. Tonight though, I am quite happy to let M’s ‘Police Advanced Driving’ experience take over. In concentration-zoned silence, slowly, slowly we retreat, one careful wheel rotation at a time.
Where is the end of this awful lane?
Each time we hear the awful woody branches slicing into the van’s paintwork and lovely decals there are two sharp intakes of breath in the cab. M keeps us straight, no dips into the deep ruts on either side, no bumping into low obscured walls or boulders. Just achingly slow progress until, eventually, we’re back to where we turned off and can reverse the van into a small access area.
Neither of us say much for a while.
“Cheers Chubs”, he replies but he’s got his phone out and is now looking for that ‘other’ site he saw, eight miles away. The review has pictures. It’s a long, river-side car park beneath a hill-mounted town. Looks lovely, although we’re slightly wary of car parks next to busy roads. There are no bushes in evidence though and that looks like a tarmac road.
M’s sleuthing finds us in a ¼ mile-long, immaculately block-paved parking area, directly above the ox-bow river that separates us from the town of Montoro. Gazing up as we give Stan his last walk, it’s like staring at a Christmas card of Jerusalem. The jumble of buildings, one layer stacked above another is up-lit by dotted street-lights. A central dome at the peak carries a cross, and above this, one particularly bright star hangs heavy, before the canopy of the galaxy opens up above.
It’s quiet. It’s calm. It’s very flat and there are no bushes, craters, car thieves or assailants anywhere to be seen.
I’ve got a deadline to meet so the van becomes my office. M explores Montoro with Stan, they come back to report on their findings and then, after lunch we move on. I’ve mastered the art of typing while we travel, so sit next to M, up front and look up to avoid car-sickness, letting my inaccurate touch-typing do it’s worst.
We can’t quite bear to go North yet. Partly because the weather forecasts show plummeting temperatures, but mostly because we’re entrenched in this new life of ours. Going up, means going home, means it’s coming to an end. It must, end, of course, but we’re just not ready to admit that yet.
So M (with careful assessment of all site photos) picks a place, next to a lake, with a castle, with motor-home specific parking.
Argamasilla de Alba, is exactly what it says on the tin. A lovely expanse of a reservoir, overlooked by a medieval castle and the dam wall with another ancient structure on the other side. The parking is broad, flattish (we’ve got ramps to get level) and again it’s still.
Supper is a chicken-broth with the chunks of crusty loaf, consumed to the sight of the sunset down-climbing the skies behind the turrets of the fort. Tomorrow we’re going to try Albacete, slightly North but mostly East of here, it’s a city that boasts a nice cathedral and a buzzing tapas scene, apparently.
We’re so close to Gary and Lesley now, that it seems a pity not to go by their slice of heaven, so that’s our general direction. These two lovely people are glad we’re coming and unfazed by the fact that we can’t quite predict when we’ll arrive.
You just never know what you’ll find…