Nature reserve. Quiet coast road. Mountain unmade road. Hail thunder storm.
We caught a bus from Aguadulce to Almería. At the Intermodal Station (bus and train) we caught the next bus to Cabo-de-Gata (and Las Salinas). We walked from the village of Cabo-de-Gata round the point to San Jose. This was a delightful, almost car free, walk. A short afternoon thunder and hail storm just added to the drama of the mountains, dunes and sea.
We get the 6.45 bus to Almeria as usual and then the 8.00 to Cabo de Gata. The driver lets us wait in the bus which is nice as it's cold and windy. Almeria seems to attract wind but it may just be a weather pattern.
We head out towards the point. There is a track flanking the cement factory which is shown on Neil's GPS. We take it through scrub and saltings and salt pans. We see the flamencos and a squat heron perched on a post.
The flora is more varied here and Neil takes a lot of photographs. His camera is playing up so many have to be replaced. At the salt reclamation plant, we rejoin the coast road. It goes right along the sea front and is quite wild. The sea is rough and breaks on the shore with a crash.
We reach El Fabriquillo, a wind-swept hamlet on the coast just before the coast road heads uphill towards the point.
This is a pleasant climb of a couple of hundred metres. Bernardo buses keep passing us with parties of seniores being rejuviated. Near the top, they are disgorged to go and take their pictures from the mirador. They are very jolly and greet us as we pass them. The same cannot be said for a surly man in a small car who decided he was going to park in the lay-by where we were having a breather after our ascent. We beat a hasty retreat for him and then wondered why we had bothered when he immediately pulled out again and went into the lay-by beyond. We had rushed for nothing.
The main road heads down towards the point and the lighthouse. Our route turns left up a narrower road marked as a cul-de-sac. We are very pleased with this because there are very few cars on it. Later on, there is a raised barrier across the road. This is closed at certain times to give the animals and birds some peace - maybe in the breeding season for example. People on foot can go at any time.
We had lunch in a lovely spot half way along and then did the long ascent to the top. There were lots of people here admiring the view.
The way down, was blocked to motor traffic so we had the descent more or less to ourselves until we got beyond the next barrier. Then there were more cars. Lots of people had come to enjoy the sandy coves along the coast. There was one particularly big sand dune called the rampant dune which we had been able to see all the way from the top of the route.
It had been a bright sunny day until now, but as the afternoon wore on a great mass of cloud was building up behind us. At one point I thought I had seen a flash but thought it was an optical illusion. Then a succession of thunderclaps made me realise it really was a lightning flash. We had zipped off our legs but as the temperature dropped we put on our jackets and soon afterwards our cagoules as well. It was tipping it down. Then, to keep the contents of my bag dry, I took out my waterproof bag bought a few trips back to use when wading across estuaries to keep our food dry. I sat down on a bank to do this and then watched amazed as rods of hail sheeted past me. We didn't bother to zip our legs back on as it would be nice to have them dry at the end of the storm. Neil said our legs were being exfoliated. I had often wondered what that felt like so now I know.
Now the rain had set in, the number of cars built up as people headed for home. The rain had settled the dust so that was good.
A very kind Spanish driver slowed down to offer us a lift. I thanked him and then explained that we were walking the coast. He understood immediately and said yes, if we took a lift there would be a gap in it. Some other walkers turned right along this stretch and later we saw them emerging at a windmill on the outskirts of San Jose. This would have been an even nicer route but We're not complaining. Today's walk has been lovely.
Once in San Jose we look for the bus stop. I ask a lady in a shop where it is and we are only a few metres from it. We check bus times. It appears the bus leaves at 8pm not 7.30 as we had thought. We cross the road and sit down on a bench. It is non longer raining and the sun has come out. We hang our things out to dry and have a snack. We are not as hungry as usual today because we have a different kind of bread which has real food in it. It is lasting us well.
After a brief pause we go down to the sea. On the way, we pass a tourismo which unusually is open. It has interesting artefacts for sale and lots of information leaflets. We find a bus timetable for San Jose. On this, it looks as though you can go on to La Isleta del Moro on the same bus. This is exciting news as we want to go there next. In the same tourismo is an excellent map of the Cabo de Gato which we buy and, at the counter, there is the telephone number of a taxi. We now have all the information we need.
As there are still more than two hours before we need to be back at the bus stop we go to the beach and have supper there. San Jose is a nice village so maybe we will bring Mini here one day. At around 7.00 we head back uphill. People are gathering and we wonder if the bus maybe goes at 7.30 after all. It doesn't. They were all waiting to meet their friends who had been on a trip and were coming back from Almeria airport.
There was a little supermarket near the bus stop and some people with herringbole locks dropped a jar of guerkins. They successfully retrieved them all, wiped them and put them in a plastic bag. It did me good to see people even more obsessive about not throwing away food than I am.
Our bus is a Bernardo bus and is being driven by a lady. She has a man with her as she is perhaps new to the route or under instruction.
The driver and her supervisor get out for a fag. She lends her lighter to a girl to light a self-rolled cigarette. The aroma takes me back to Peace Corps parties in the late sixties.
We are looking forward to the bus ride which should take us through La Isleta and Rodalquilar before returning to Almeria. It fairly soon appears that this is not going to happen. We are going straight to Almeria albeit by a circuitous route through dusty plasticos with numerous stops but no bus stop signs. I ask the man and lady if any of the buses go to La Isleta and they do as of right on a Saturday and a Monday but only in one direction. But they also go on other days if someone was dropped off there in the morning and needs picking up. I felt sure that by buying a ticket in the morning to La Isleta (but not getting off, or getting off and straight back on again to buy a ticket for the remaining few miles.) it would then be possible to be picked up from there in the evening. I felt the woman understood me but the man just said no that wouldn't work, you'd have to sleep there and return the following morning.
We give up and decide to hire a car to finish off the pussy. Also Neil wants to get there early in the morning so we can see a lynce and an ibex.
We get home at 9.30 as expected. The change-over at the intermodal station was beautifully timed so you had time to get off one bus, buy a ticket and get on the next.