Beach and wade.
Torre de la Peña 2 camping site to Tarifa. This is an easy walk along the beach. But you do have to wade across a creek. At high tide or during storms or spring tides this might be dangerous. At mid tide, we just wet our knickers.
We caught the 10.25 bus and in spite of my specifying Torre de la Pena II, the driver stopped at Torre de la Pena I. I had a chat and said no doubt he thought I meant two tickets which he did and I did as well. At 10.40 we reached the bus stop.
We tried a couple of options right opposite the bus stop but these were both dead ends so we walked back along the main road for a few yards until we came to the Val de Vaqueros wind and kite surfing school. Here we went over Perky's cattle grid (Perky was a Yorkshire terrier we had long ago who was very interested in cattle grids when we drove over them in the car). This was a nice un surfaced way to the beach.
At the beach, we turned left and walked along straight into the wind as usual but it wasn't too bad today perhaps force 6. It didn't distort your cheeks or make you fall over. At the start of the beach, was a bed of what we at first thought were iris reticulata, but which, on closer inspection, turned out to be crocuses. This is the first time we have seen clumps like this so we were pleased.
After an hour (10.40) we had a short break. My drink had frozen nicely as I had put it in the freezer compartment over night but had to be opened slowly so that it didn't all squirt out. There was some white tamarind broom gone over showing that this year the weather is normal and last year was unusually cold.
Our arrival in Tarifa did not go without a hitch. We had a very nice taxi man called Marcos. We had been told to ring 30 minutes before our arrival but when I tried, the numbers didn't work. The last email I got before departure had a mobile number on it to ring but, as I already had a mobile number on my paper, I did not print this one out. I remember thinking I should just check they were the same but didn't, so that meant I now hadn't got a contact number. Well, we went from one agency to another not because they were Costasur (our agency) but because we hoped they would know where Costasur was. The first one had a list of numbers but they were the same as the ones we already had. Eventually we found one who seemed to know, and she rang and got through. Andrea said she'd be with us at the gasolinera in 5 minutes which she was and she led us to the house on her bike.
The house is very nice but the stairs are fierce for Mini so Neil and I are upstairs and Mini is on the couch. There were quite a few wooden slats missing so we have reconstructed her bed like a princess's by laying one mattress over the broken slats, then superimposing the slats from the single bed in my room and then putting on another mattress. There is a toilet and wash basin down there en suite so that is OK.
I have forgotten a comb for Mini and more importantly my headset for Muvo so I am doing these worms from memory.
Tomorrow I will get a comb, a headset and a new backup pile (battery) for Psion.
Today I telephoned Marcos about my coat which I had left in his car and he offered to bring it round when he was in the area but I said wait till Sunday because it isn't cold. It is 18.5 C today and my fleecy jumper is enough. If it gets really cold I can buy a cheap fleece in the sales. I saw one for 35 euros. Have I now done three stupid things? Am I now safe for a bit?
We had lunch at 12.15 in the lee of a pine. It was the last sheltered place before the exposed wetlands before Tarifa (how wet we were yet to discover). The first watery place had been completely dry and in any case there was a perfectly good bridge we could use at high tide so we had no worries about getting through.
We have seen pancreatic maritimes and sea holly as well as the sand crocuses (possibly two kinds of these).
13.15 We set off again. Neil has printed off Goggle earth pictures of our route so we know where we are going. We have to do 7 pages the first two days and 8 pages the second two days and then we have to do Gibraltar. Anne looked up some words so we now know that Paraje is a place or spot and Peña is a rock or crag.
I have to look up interesting words at home because the dictionary I take with me is the Berlitz one – very portable and useful for menus but little else if your Spanish is beyond the most elementary level.
Today we had a doggy with us for a time. He brought a stick for us to throw and then retrieved it several times for us. We think his man was out wind surfing. We think the dog’s name might be Stickula.
The next river was very much deeper and there was no bridge this time. Meanwhile the tide had been creeping in – an Atlantic tide so quite a big one. Initially, we took our zip off legs off but it was so deep we had to go back and take our trousers off entirely and go across in our knickers. This was a sight for sore eyes – luckily not too many people about. Then on the far side we took our knickers off as well, washed them to get the sand off and hung them from the straps of our mustangs (rucksacks) to dry.
At the first tea break (2.50) on the outskirts of Tarifa just past the football stadium), we hung them up on some marram grass. We hope we don't leave them behind like Nicholas Crane. Not for nothing is he called Nicholas! We are on the cusp of the weather between Spain and Portugal. Behind us it is cloudy and ahead it is bright.
Anne makes a mental note to buy some posh plastic bags to keep out rain and sea water. My rucksack bought from Tilley has a single strap and is very light weight but the down side is that it is not waterproof as we were to discover to our cost a few days later.
15.40 We set off again. As we have not gone far today we carry on beyond Tarifa to the islota hoping to go round it for completeness. We get across the causeway all right and as far as a gate but can't get in. On one side is a sign saying Oceano Atlantico and on the other a sign saying Mar Mediterraneo. I think the change is at Gibraltar. Those are the true pillars of Hercules surely. As I haven’t yet done my swim in the estrechas (straits) that’s how I’m interpreting it.
I have made these recordings with Muvo inside my jumper. It seems to have reduced the wind noise.
The spiral staircase in the house reminds us of a house we had in Cyprus where Neil ended up in my bedroom one night because he had become disorientated. As we don’t need to go downstairs to the toilet here, that is less likely to happen. Tarifa is the most southerly town in Europe and we have now passed through it so that is another landmark on our journey.
We went back into Tarifa and visited the port where the ships go to Tangier. We passed a fort and the Castle and statue of Gusman the Good and the castle of Sancho the Brave (bravo in Spanish can mean splendid and courageous but also wild and ferocious as we were to find out later).