Time for the thermals

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Where I stayed
Sol Parc

Flag of Spain  , Balearic Islands,
Thursday, October 21, 2010

 

Week 3 – Time for the thermals




Half way through week 3 now and there was a huge change in the weather a few days ago. First we had a storm followed by heavy rain for 15 hours. After that the sun shone between showers, which were not sufficiently heavy or frequent to prevent us getting out each day and going for long walks. The rain brought out lots of small crocuses on the paths. They appeared from amongst the stones overnight. Huge heather bushes on the headlands burst into pink blooms.

We took the bus to a small town called Fornells which is pretty with a harbour and sheltered bay, almost like an inland lake where you can learn to windsurf and sail. The plan was to walk across to the next urbanisation (Cala Tirant) where the beaches, river and woods provide good walking. We needed to time the day carefully because there are only 3 buses a day from Cala Tirant back to Son Parc, the last one being at 4pm. We reached C T to find a lovely settlement with villas and apartments well spread out and well cared for including manicured lawns. The strange thing was there was no-one about. The hotel, supermarket and bar were all closed and we did not see a soul during our walk. (See photo of Jim on steps). We went to wait at the bus stop a little early as we didn't want to risk missing the bus but (it was the last one of the day) as we sat and waited we began to feel there was little chance of it arriving. However, only 2 minutes late it came hurtling down the hill. The only person on the bus was the driver! I had seen him a couple of times before. He is sullen and does not like tourists. I bought the tickets and then said in my best Spanish, “we were very happy to see you”. The corners of his mouth curled up in a quarter of a smile so I knew he understood, (or it could have been indigestion).

The only negative effect of the rain was that it reduced the temperature so clothes did not dry easily and we had to resort to wearing our thermals/pyjamas to bed, and on the second night when the Tramontana (a cold, strong wind that blows from the mainland) blew, we even had to wear thick socks at night! Thankfully the wind has dropped and the sun is out again. Without being aware of it at first, both of us went around humming, “ Hello, Mother, hello Father, here we are at Camp Granada.......” , remember the song about the kid who hates camp until the sun comes out?

We hired a car on Sunday so making it easier to travel further afield. There is a popular walk from Son Bou to Sant Tomas which is across the back of a long beach, between the sand and a wetland area. None of the information about the path had explained that to start the walk it is necessary to cross a small river flowing into the sea where the waves cross a sandbank and meet the river. We decided we could time the waves and run across between them. Half way across we realised the flaw in the strategy – it was much deeper than anticipated. We stopped and decided to take shoes and socks off quickly. I helped Jim balance while he did that and he helped me. Sadly, after helping me take one shoe and sock off , he forgot what he was doing (?) and turned the other way. A large wave came whilst I was hopping about and, I don't know if the wind blew, or my rucksack affected my balance but in slow motion I fell full length, face down – but not into the waves – no, into the river. At least it was a soft landing. The good thing about having the car was that Jim could drive me home to get a change of clothing.

On Monday we planned to surprise a couple who were stopping here in Mahon on a cruise ship. Unfortunately the ship was not able to come into the harbour until Tuesday because of the Tramontana. They did come ashore then and we abducted them from the dock to go and visit other parts of the island. I hope they did not mind, and that they enjoyed their day, we certainly enjoyed their company.

On Wednesday we did a very special walk up the Algendar Gorge. The whole gorge (took about 40 minutes each way excluding the stops to look at birds, butterflies, goats etc ) was a delight, an amazingly tranquil place, which reminded us of films about the land that time forgot. (There was a very strong smell of goat throughout but as they never had smelly-vision on the films it was not something I expected!) But the highlight of the walk was the sighting of Egyptian Vultures, beautiful creatures (even if they don't sound it – they have had a bad press!) and we were lucky as we saw 5 seated high up on trees, and at least another 4 or 5 soaring over the gorge.

This hotel is closing on the 24th October so we will move next door which may be an improvement. There are very few people here now and the staff have closed up most rooms for the winter. See if you can spot our room in the picture. (The table and drier might give a clue.)

This morning we parked in a national park area and I went to the facilities before setting off. The loos were the mobile cubicles found in lots of rural areas that operate with a chemical “plunger” flush which smells pleasant but is very strong. They don't have lights but a little daylight comes in at the top of the door. When I came to leave I could not get the door open. The lock had jammed. After jiggling it, turning one way and another, but without success, I resorted,to shouting “Hello, I can't open the door”, in Spanish a few times but no-one came. Thinking about the effect of breathing the chemical fumes I then went for a more direct approach of “Help me” (imperative). Somehow it felt impolite shouting in another language. By now it was quiet with no footsteps outside (there were few  people around anyway) so I decided to save energy until I heard someone, and I carried on playing with the lock. Suddenly it gave way , clicked into place and opened. I crossed the car park back to Jim and asked if he had missed me or heard me calling. He said no, but he had thought perhaps there was a big queue (?)

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