Friday, 27 December 2013

Day 48 - El Passo to Vera

I woke up first as usual. I slept pretty well on the smooth concrete, with the pop-up tents again proving to be a great purchase. Tom and Chris also got up early enough to allow ourselves to leave on time. Mark and Michelle however did not, and were still in the process of getting ready at 7.30. Me, Chris and Tom left them behind and headed to the next town of Cartagena a relatively short distance away for breakfast. We found an Aldi so went in and got breakfast. Chris and Tom went in first as I was busy making a model bike out of cable ties. Tom had texted the others to let them know where we were. Maybe about half an hour or so later Mark and Michelle turned up. They had got a bit lost trying to find us - we weren't surprised as we had to ask people for directions due to the lack of signposts. Anyway the others ended up having coffee somewhere, so we ended up having an unnecessarily long break. We finally got pedalling again at about 10.30am. It took us a little while to navigate our way through the town but eventually we came out the other side and were greeted with countryside and hills. There was a section of closed road which we went down - this was amazing as we were the only people around in this now desolate place - it was like being on Mars or something. It was gorgeous scenery but hard going with the temperature soaring and the hills long. Michelle was a bit behind and I was struggling to keep up with the others so I ended up dropping back and riding with her. The tough hill we climbed rewarded us with some incredible views over the baron land. There was a great long descent the other side which was a good chance to recover and cool down after the climb. At the bottom we could see a Repsol and knew that the others would have gone in there. Sure enough as we approached we saw the bikes parked outside so went over and joined them. We used this as an opportunity to charge stuff as I found a socket outside. After a pretty substantial break we pushed on. It wasn't too long before we were greeted with more hills. These were tougher than the earlier one with the humidity very high and zero wind. I was once again the inbetweener. Sensing that Michelle would be struggling with these conditions I stopped about halfway up one particularly tough bit and waited. About 10 minutes later she appeared labouring up the hill slowly. She was clearly struggling so I sat her down in the only bit of shade by a random wheeliebin and gave her some water. Once she had calmed down/was breathing normally again about 10 minutes later we slowly made our way up the remainder of the hill together. We stopped again towards the top for another break. This time we had a big wall for shade and a friendly guard dog to keep us company. We were rewarded with a long downhill and could see the sea in the distance. Thankfully there was a town at the bottom of the hill so we were able to refuel and rehydrate. I saw a supermarket so went there whilst Michelle chose a petrol station. I got the standard 5 litre massive bottle of water before rejoining Michelle at the petrol station. Michelle had been able to get in contact with the others and they were at another town further on. There was a man selling melons out the back of a van at the petrol station for 1 euro - Michelle ended up getting one. The man who spoke no English then proceeded to get out a machete and slice the melon into segments so we could eat some. I had a bit and it was delicious. I put the remaining melon pieces into an empty ice cream tub in a pannier bag. I remember one of us had left something behind when we left. The melon man ran and called after us to give back whatever it was we had left. It was late afternoon now and a much easier temperature to ride in. There were still some inclines but nowhere near as bad as earlier. I was relying on Michelle for directions as she had the trusty Iphone with google maps. After maybe a few hours we got to the town where the others were and soon met up with them. They were sat outside a bar on some plastic tables and chairs - the table full of empty bottles. They had been there a few hours and had used those two hours to make the most of the very cheap Spanish beer. I found this funny - Michelle was a little concerned. We stayed there a while talking, snacking and feeding salami some stray kittens. Eventually we got ready to leave. Our plan was to find the nearest suitable place to put up the tents and call it a day, with Michelle leading the way and me at the back keeping an eye on the others. When leaving Tom said he had a puncture. Michelle being close went over to have a look. When she lent down to see Tom chanted 'WHEYYY" (there wasn't a puncture, he just wanted to see Michelle's reaction). The alcohol clearly brought out his funny side. It was hilarious - certainly the funniest moment of the day. We then set off. Chris was over-excited and cycled far too fast through a narrow gap between two kerbs almost catching his back wheel. Thankfully there were virtually no cars about. There was loud talking and singing amongst the lads. We couldn't find anywhere suitable in the town but I saw a sign for a golf course so we decided to try and camp there. We couldn't locate the golf course so pushed on. A few minutes later I could see a 'Shell' petrol station logo in the distance so we opted to aim for this. It was now getting properly dark and we were in the countryside away from streetlights. Mark had a torch in his mouth to see where he was going. He ended up dropping this and we had to wait a few minutes for him to find it before continuing. We were then greeted with a load of bats making a racket in some of the trees we passed under - a bit unnerving. Anyway we eventually made it to the petrol station. It was closed which was a good thing. We decided to pitch up under a car parking area/shelter next to the forecourt. The ground was relatively smooth and flat and we could lock the bikes to the shelter's frame. The petrol station opened at 7am so we agreed to leave by then. The others went to bed whilst I found a table/chairs and had some food before bed at probably 11pm.

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