This week brings the end of our first full week at Pinar San Jose, Zahora and it’s been a lovely week, in it’s own simple way-which is exactly what we were hoping for.
Monday brought our first proper taste (this time) of the famed retinto beef, with a lovely one rib, rib of beef. David cooked it perfectly on the BBQ and it had a wonderful depth of flavour. Unfortunately, our Aldi potatoes let the side down and no amount of butter or mint sauce could rescue them, they were just horrid potatoes. We should have stuck with getting all our veg from the market, including the rubbish looking potatoes there.
Thankfully for me, we have also found the purple mangos for sale in the same market and I’m more or less up to one a day, and they really are the best. But, so sweet and soft they are, you have to eat the whole one, which can be quite filling. So, on Monday I made a mango lassi with one, so that I could have it over two breakfasts. The result was very authentic, but the making, time and utensils used of said operation was about the same as a full-on roast dinner, so I’ll go back to straight up mangos and make the most of them whilst in season.
This week was also a first, in so much as David has been and sat (almost laid) on the beach- not once but twice at the incredibly lovely hippie surfdom of El Palmar. David is a shade, sunbed, swimming pool kind of guy and so these two outings really took me by surprise as they were both at his suggestion, and there are none of the above at the beach here. Our first visit on the Thursday, saw waves at least eight feet high at times, although there was no wind as such. Being a week day, the beach and the waves were quiet, but there was still enough action with the ‘seals’ to amuse us. Plus, for David there was his phone and iPad to hand as well, and the sand made easier for him being of that very soft kind that really does brush off you easily. However, much to David’s amusement it was me who came unstuck on the beach, as after laying out on my towel resting my head on my cycle helmet, reading and not watching out for the waves, that I and my belongings got soaked, as one of the eight footers came bounding in and covered me, just as David looked up from his phone to scream “Karen”. Thankfully, neither my phone or Kindle suffered in the soaking, just me and my rucksack. So, at that point it was time to truly retreat to the bar for a small sherry and a couple of tapas.
During our last time in Spain in 2016, in Nikki we came to know and love Spain and were always aghast when people would say how they liked the country, but found the drivers terrible. We never did…. at that time. Since arriving back here, we have changed our view a bit, they are in fact quite shocking and have turned into real speed freaks. Either that or we were just as terrible drivers back then as well and might have improved with age this time- not sure about that last theory. They do however, in general give cyclists room on the roads, providing of course they have seen you. I’m most often riding at the rear on any of our outings, being a slower cyclist and also like taking my time looking at the scenery etc, so it’s usually me they don’t see and then have to swerve to avoid me into the path of the equally manic driver on the other side of the road. By this time, accidents thankfully avoided, they realise that this old biddy, dawdling along can’t be by herself, there must be another one and so they slow down and David is under aware of these incidents.
So we were both really glad to find a quiet cycle route to the white pueblo town of Vejer on our Wednesday visit. The cycle by the road was about 20k’s one way, but there was a Camino route that although not that much shorter, did avoid a lot of traffic, and what a find it was. Dubious at first on my part as it was gravel and dirt, it led us through again the most idyllic countryside, with rolling hills, fields giving with it of course those stunning views. Vejer, is a hilltop village and so we knew there was no avoiding the climb, but this route made the climb with manageable gradients, dropping us into the edge of the town. We then made our way, as we knew was advisable by foot through the narrow twisting, turns of streets that make up the old town and lead to the lovely fountained square. After a good mooch around, remembering our previous times here and friends we made we stopped in the square, as it was of course……. sherry, tapas time. The Spanish (bless them) were of course sitting in the shade, wrapped up in their winter coats, whilst David and I sat in the sun, in UK summer wear of shorts and t-shirt, and on this occasion with the sun beating down on my belly I was just ready for the ever present cry of “Aren’t you cold”, but with sweat rolling down my nose they seemed to know better.
On this trip and perhaps as a sign of the current times we have also noticed a few things that have saddened us here, and that is the poverty side. Andalusia, is a poor area overall in Spain, with the obvious money spots within it, but there seems to have been an obvious increase, with more begging including at tables in bars and restaurants, along the ever present African sellers. Also, an increase in random car parking helpers, there helping you find and park in a spot for a few cents or so, but it has to be said straight way on this that there is no aggression with any of it, a No or shake of your head and they leave you. Times are hard and we try to help whenever we can, but it’s sad to see and of course we realise it’s hard everywhere for everyone at the moment.
Next moan now for our Spanish friends, which we can not accept and that’s animal cruelty. Again, at this time we seem to have seen a huge increase in abandoned dogs, just left on the road, or in the countryside. On our cycle back from the beach today, there appeared to be another just dumped beautiful looking terrier. He or she ran up to David and I separately with such a look of affection and “can you help me please, as I’m lost look” in its eyes, that I stopped further on and waited to see if anyone was around with him, but No and he just continued to amble around running aimlessly. Animal lovers or not, it’s shameful to treat these loving creatures in such a way. Apparently, approx. 60,000 dogs are killed or abandoned every year in Spain. A sobering and unpleasant thought. So, on that note we won’t tell you about the truly horrific worse than any David Attenborough nature program scene that we witnessed the other day and talk about sherry instead.
Sherry, or Jerez as it’s known here is a wonderful drink, that I’ve been quite partial too since I was a child, when I was given sweet sherry mixed with my night time milk- apparently it helped me to sleep. Not sure that child welfare might have seen it that way, but I certainly had a fondness for it until I moved on in older years to a nice, chilled dry sherry. We are currently about 60ks from Jerez, the actual main town of the wonder drink, and so around here as you might expect it’s cheap and readily available, providing you can pronounce it! David and I have an inability to be able to say it correctly and so it usually takes 5 minutes, charades or google translate to get one, unless of course I have my Tio Pepe t-shirt on and then it’s a bit simpler. Jerez, is a hard word to say in Spanish. We of course know and have mastered that J’s are H’s and so can do that bit, but then comes the Z and that’s one of those splutter, lisp, roll your tongue all at the same time whilst spitting over everyone letters. We’ve tried, but it remains unmastered and so that T-shirt just has to be washed and worn continually!
Our week, has along with the declared State of Alarm in Spain seen Andalusia close its borders until November 9th, meaning that we can’t go anywhere outside that area. Not too much of a hardship as we weren’t leaving anyway for now. However, with this week being Halloween and Day of the Dead in Spain, the site from Friday onwards has been rammed to the seams and continues to be so. The 11pm curfew and only 6 in a gathering has been lost in translation here somewhere and we can honestly say that when we got back late from a walk on the Saturday, the site looked like something out of a horror movie, with ghost, ghoulies, witches and screaming children everywhere. Thankfully, none of them came near us, as David was ready with his Hammer House of Horror impression.
So, with lock down now happening in most countries including the UK, we hear you say, “well at least you have the sun”. Which is true……. up until next Wednesday when it’s due to rain non-stop for two weeks, and we were getting along so well at the moment!
Oh well, what can you do?? Another Sherry Perhaps?
With lockdown happening and boredom rising, do read our blog and pass onto family and friends, you never know it might relieve the boredom or even help you to sleep!