October 21, 2009
Your level of fatigue at the moment makes it difficult to get this entry flowing. But your enthusiasm should carry you through to the finish. You and Alexis are currently in Orgiva, Spain, and are riding the buzz of a mere 25cl of celebratory beer—for having run up (and down) a 950m mountain in just under two hours. No mere feat. Alexis actually schooled you on the ascent. Alas, the student is bound to surpass the master. Twice, yes, TWICE, you asked her to slow the pace (a severe blow to your ego, as your readers can imagine), and she responded vindictively by turning the skrew, leaning into the trail, and swinging her long legs up it with about the same amount of finess as a billy goat.
Going backwards… last night, you arrived in Orgiva quite late. The sun had already gone down, and you were hard pressed to find a camp site. In the pitch darkness, you stumbled upon a hole in a fence, found that it led to an olive grove over a blanket of very deep, dusty topsoil, and decided it to be safe enough for a brief stay. You did not anticipate (well, actually, you did!) the rainstorm that hit you around 2am. Alexis informed you that there was a puddle in the middle of the tent, and for the next two hours, you basically kept at work by “bailing out the tent,” staking it down into what had become 4 inches of solid, sucky mud and puddles, and feeling both sad and amused by how absurd your lives can be at times. The rain finally did abate, but not until your sleeping bags, clothing, backpacks, and souls were damp-to-soaking. 4:30 in the morning, you slipped back asleep and then woke at 8:15 to a dog barking an alarm of your intrusion in the grove. You packed up in a jiffy and took off for an early morning coffee. No big worries, no huge hangups. You later treated yourselves to a camp site, hung out all your clothes, washed all the mud from the gear, and when all was said and done, hit the mountain trail.
Before Orgiva… 5 glorious days in Granada, camping in the mountains just behind the city (but actually an hour’s walk from the center). Granada was your real introduction to the south of Spain, quite different from the north. The city is surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains, sand is ituated below Alhambra (old Islamic palace). It’s a mix of traditional Spain and Morocco, with small cobble stone streets running between closely packed buildings, set against a dry, sandy, though bountiful terrain. Granda had energy and charm that finally delivered what you’d hoped to derive from Spain. You and Alexis took your time to walk the city, try the local beer and tapas, see a Flamenco show, eat a delcious and extravagant Spainsh meal, and explore Alhambra, which was in the top five most visually impressive things you have ever seen. You shopped, studied Spanish, wrote, and truly relaxed for the first time in weeks. Granada is incredible, now one of your favorite European cities—lesser known, but a must-visit. When not in the city, you were relaxed at your campsite, staring up at the stars as your made dinner, running over mountain trails that overlooked the city, and splashing around in clean mountain pools and waterfalls.
Before Granada… you couch surfed in Valencia with a 28 year old guy named Carlos, which was interesting and challenging, to say the least. To say the most, by the end of your trip, you’d decided that the guy has Asperger’s sundrome, which is the best way to describe his behavior. Though despite a few moments of severe social awkwardness, the accommodations were great, Valencia turned out to be a gorgeous and manicured city, with beautiful parks. You met two interesting folks from Finland. The five of you took a day trip down the coast, seeing three coastal towns and having paella at a restaurant in Alicante. You were grateful for the amount of Spain you were able to see in one day, which would ordinarily have taken three or four days.
Where to next? You have a wwoofing job lined up on the southern coast, where you are promised your own private cabana on a sea cliff and asked to work only 2 hours a day. Who can say no to that?