Thursday, 5 February 2015

We cycle to Roquetas market and see flamingos in a wetlands park

Every town in Spain seems to have its own weekly market and Roquetas
Nacional Vertice Geodesico inscription 
de Mar is no exception. The stalls stretch from the roundabout by the Gran Plaza shopping centre practically down to the beach, a distance of several hundred metres, and mostly sell clothing or fruit and vegetables. We cycled from Camping Roquetas along the dedicated beachside cycle route and a couple of almost deserted roads. The journey was a leisurely fifteen minutes each way. The cycle routes here are fantastic. There is an almost entirely traffic-free route alongside the beach from Aguadulce harbour at one end to the wetlands natural park on the far side of Roquetas at the other end. Several roads into the towns also have special red-painted cycle routes and Spanish drivers around here seem particularly aware of cyclists and walkers, giving both a wide berth. It is great for confidence building!

Aguadulce harbour from the promenade 
We didn't have a long list of things to buy although I especially wanted to get a jar of local honey. We had seen hives on the sunny hillsides while walking so I was sure there would be some. One stall had teas, spices and several flavours of honey. Made at Cortijo La Magana, and with the portraits of the beekeepers on the lid, they all looked tempting. I chose an almond one and tried a little stirred into Greek yoghurt this evening. Delicious!

After lunch, we reverted to the car and drove to the wetlands park. I think we may try cycling there tomorrow. There is an ornate gateway from a wide road at the edge of the urbanisation. We parked up and set off walking but a couple of cars were also touring, slowly, which seemed odd to us. We didn't expect driving cars around to be accepted but the dirt roads were obviously well used. The first part of the park doesn't have any visible water and could pass as generic waste scrubland anywhere along this coast. Miles and miles of plastic-roofed tomato greenhouses are visible nearby and we could even see snowy mountains in the distance. After about a quarter hour, we passed by a lake with a few ducks and, to our delight, a couple of dozen flamingos! We haven't seen flamingos since Tavira last year. I tried unsuccessfully to get a photo as the birds were too far away and mostly had their heads underwater feeding. They can hold their breath for a long time!

Still in the park, near the beach, we saw this bizarre collapsing structure.
Tower in Roquetas wetlands park 
It looked like an abandoned windmill from a distance, but there were no doorways or window apertures, or indeed any sign of stairs upwards. A stand for a helpful placard had been provided nearby. Perhaps its information sheet will be attached soon?

Another odd sight was this tall stone pillar with a short stone cylinder on its top. We initially thought it was some religious marker due to the white cross in front of it. In fact the two are separate. The cross commemorates the deaths of two pilots presumably nearby or who were from the locality. The tall pillar belongs to the Instituto Geografico and is a Nacional Vertice Geodesico. There is an oval inscription on the side that says so. It also states a dire threat for anyone damaging the pillar. We didn't touch! We guessed a Nacional Vertice Geodesico is something like a trig point back home and, upon Googling, think we weren't too far from the truth. With excuses for rusty translation, we think it was one of 39 sites across Spain and Portugal that were used for an extensive GPS survey in the 1990s.

Pillar and memorial 
In order to walk a loop - Dave hates out-and-back walks - we continued along the beach as far as the edge of town. Here, there are lots of fairly new streets and large apartment blocks. Some look to be general housing and others appear more like luxury holiday accommodation for tourists. A golf course has also been created here and is a lush green in contrast to the grey-greens of the surrounding wetlands. Most of the apartment blocks seemed closed up and deserted, perhaps because it is winter, so I was amazed to turn a corner and see dozens of freeloading motorhomes. A car park at the end of the promenade had been taken over, which is fairly normal, but then they continued, parked both sides of the wide roads, for several blocks! I've not seen so many together before.

I find it quite weird that these people spend thousands on their luxury motorhomes, but then pennypinch by parking up like this, literally just at the side of a road under an apartment block with no facilities, no view or even any sunshine to set out a chair in. There were so many that they couldn't all just be breaking their journeys there for a night before moving on. Freeloading in pretty places I understand, but not this!

In other news, huge thanks to Adrienne for being the first to 'buy me a coffee' (through the Paypal link on the right of this blog page). I shall be sure to savour every sip!
And for book persons, if you were intrigued by Sophie and Suze's recent Review Challenge, they are starting another later this week. This challenge is specifically aimed at Netgalley reviews and further details are on both Reviewed The Book and on Librarian Lavender. I have one Netgalley review, for a Korean novella, outstanding and I must get requesting some more titles!

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