We moved on yesterday from Tarifa area and having spent three fabulous weeks there we got to know some of the other folks on the site, some stay there for months. On saying our goodbyes it transpired that the mature German blokes on the site (who didn’t mix with anyone else) ‘jokingly’ called us The English Mutants, German humour eh?! Oh how we laughed! Its a good job there weren’t any South African Mutants or Brazilian Mutants around as the raucous German giggling would have been deafening! Anyhow, sad to move from a great location, a pretty quiet site and a happy cat, but we needed to continue on.
Firstly, given we’ve not ridden everyday, you all know I’m filling my rehab time with Duolingo learning. If we see any of you for dinner anytime soon, Nick suggests you don’t ask me how I’m getting on, as I am now fluent in “This restaurant has very good rice” and “The grandmother and the girl are reading together on the beach”…. you have been warned!
Our next ride out was a Komoot one (a cycle route app that’s frankly rubbish!) and yes, we found ourselves at a locked gate to…. So resorting to google we meandered along and found ourselves in a lovely town called Facinas, up in the hills behind Bolonia. We were a tad intimidated by the giant man and the bull at the roadside but we persevered, and didn’t look either in the eye.
The Black Bulls are all over Spain and are the Osbourne Bulls symbolic of The Osbourne Sherry Company ads for their Brandy de Jerez. Who the guitarist is I don’t know!
Facinas is very much a working locals kind of town but very pretty nonetheless. It reminded us a bit of Trinidad in Cuba but slightly less shabby and Facinas has road names unlike most streets in Cuba generally (maps weren’t updated after the revolution) Facinas’s streets were similarly all cobble stone, high curb with tiny colourful houses. Several tiny bars are scattered around and there’s an oversized for the town, sports complex (possibly Olympic money funded) The church at the top of the town was understated and charming.
From Facinas we headed inland and from there didn’t see a soul until nearly back. We had a picnic lunch up in the hills watching the wind turbines stop and start all the time (why??) It was incredibly quiet but for bird song and bells (cows, goats, sheep) The final leg of the route was along Camino de la Pista which looked very different a couple of days later… a high up section with views down to Tarifa. Anyhow, 23.1 miles of glorious solitude in the main!
Trying to not overdo it, we decided we’d wash the van given it’d been sea sprayed for quite a while. A lady in another asked if she could video Jigsaw for her blog, Jigsaw wasn’t fussed but Nick was! Don’t think we’ll be doing any merchandise just yet even though I’ve heard there’s a market for it in Frome… Ana, is from Kenya and produces a blog, generally viewed in Africa where she posts about quirky things that go on in Europe. Apparently she thinks a beautiful travelling cat will be good for her likes 🙂 Anyhow, Jigsaw behaved herself, with the help of Dreamies and we all know how Nick is with her anyway. When we see the final edit we can circulate it (Sonia!) if you want! That evening was the most stunning sunset, everyone was out watching, even the German ‘older single man, bike riding, beer drinking and humour’ clique!
Camino de la Pista looks very different after some rainfall, such was the terrain that I thought it needed to drop a couple of its letters. We wanted to do a ride known as the 7 valleys which involves heading inland from La Pena and through the valleys behind Tarfia and out towards Algeciras, returning via a coastal track through Tarifa. We wondered at times if we’d been a bit too ambitious. The photos show the mud involved on the Camino which deposited itself all over our clothes and faces for the rest of the day. It was however a great ride, again hardly anyone around, lots of big views, more cork tree’s without their trousers on, waterfalls, serious rock falls and a sheep that took an interest in Nicks feet. Mid afternoon we thankfully found a cafe which overlooked the straight to Tangiers and Morocco, it looked so close!
You won’t believe it (if you have read other posts) but the route back towards Tarifa involved an old military area and it was open! Afterwards, we concluded that the authorities had decided that it didn’t need to be all locked up as surely people wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and…..
After 5 miles of boneshaker riding, even with full suspension on, I got the feeling back in my hands and was able to take a photo (Maybe to do with gripping and using the brakes so much) It was one of those rides that once you start you have to finish. It was an up and down track made of nothing but large rocks with some water and mud thrown in for good measure. On a positive, we did see some old derelict military buildings and artillery emplacements… serious, as we were coastal path, the views were fab across the shipping lanes to Morocco. We do feel that calling it a “beach road” on the map is akin to Ben Nevis being a walk in the local park.
Our last day involved cleaning the bikes, cleaning ourselves and a BrioTarfifa lunch treat. Bizarrely after 3 weeks, we actually got some neighbours for our last night. A Dutch couple who have recently started on a world tour with their children, aged 2 and 7! Now that’s an education money can’t buy!
Finally that night it was also crystal clear across the waters to Tangiers port and Tangiers itself. These pictures took some taking by Nick (zoom and dark is v tricky!) but it was so incredibly clear we could see the lights on the dock cranes twinkling (20 of them) and the Arabic (we assume) writing on the hillside lit up. It reads God, Homeland, King which when we researched is said to serve as a reminder to Moroccans of the hierarchy of what’s important. (Is a Queen possible?)