One thing you can always rely on when travelling in motorhomes is meeting and enjoying lovely people’s company, this can of course be as much locals as well as fellow motorhomers. This trip, for the usual boring reason, has been slightly different. Not so many people, a reluctance by everyone to meet and greet, with of course the huge barriers of not being able to touch, kiss, shake hands etc due to social distancing. For many nationalities this is a big part of their culture. That said, David and I have been lucky and during our various lockdowns have teamed up with lovely fellow travellers, by choice or not. There was of course our gang of eight in Turkey, with our leader Katherine the Great keeping us busy and amused.
We have now been on Camping Pinar San Jose six weeks on this second visit. On our first, the campsite was even quieter and our gang consisted of Jason, the surfer, who keep us amused with his surfing stories and tales of the area, mainly about the drugs, and dubious horse stories. He made a break for it before Christmas, heading to his sister’s place in Menorca.
This time we have formed a lovely gang of five, Judy, Alan and Helena. Judy and Alan, had no choice but to eventually like us, as when we arrived for the second time, despite an empty campsite, we decided to park right next door to them. On that fateful dark, wet evening we arrived disrupting their peaceful evening, reversing in, throwing chocs out, arguing with all our usual parking up shouting (swear words a must) as we made Buster and us ready for our enforced long-term stay. To top all that off, we stole the cat back, with him immediately recognising us (in our world) and running over to us, deserting the hands that had then been feeding him! Anyway, the days turned into weeks and along with Helena, from Sweden we have formed another lovely group. Is there a leader amongst us? Probably not, but on Tuesday Judy and Alan stepped to the fore and organised a pancake day party, to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.
The day was thankfully sunny, although with a cool breeze and along with David, I and Helena, they had also invited Kim and his wife Sue (both of whom have been part of David’s and I wider gang on both occasions here), plus two other German families, one set including their two delightful small children. Tables were laid, balloons were blown and spread around the van and nearby trees, making it all very festive. It began at 1pm, with beers and wine, some bread, cheese and pate before the main pancake event. It was here that the normal pancake options took a turn and we were to have New Zealand pancakes, which Judy and Alan had discovered and loved on a visit there. The warmed pancakes were in a stack and then there was a variety of fillings on the tables, both savoury and sweet. Judy took the lead and made the first one, showing us all exactly how they were done, before we made our own. Essentially, a New Zealand pancake is a stack of both savoury and sweet filings, so Judy started with bacon in one layer, then a sausage layer, with maple syrup on those. OK, not so unusual, especially in the world of America. However, the next layers on top were a mix of fruit-strawberries, kiwi, banana and then topped with ice-cream along with more syrup. It was a veritable picture of decadence, before Judy tucked into it and invited us to make our own with whatever fillings we fancied. Of course, everyone apart from one, was a little hesitant, both about what filings to have and what our stomachs might take too. The little person amongst us, took second lead, struggling to push David away from the table and making her stack, deciding hers was just going to be fruit and of course much ice-cream. The rest of us, made more modest choices, with generally the savoury being keep separate from the sweet, but David did really embrace the NZ pancake theme, stacking the pancakes with as much of everything and anything that was on the table- and decided they were absolute winners on the pancake front.
It was then time for pancake Olympics- this was also met with much amusement from our German neighbours, who had never had done such pancake related activities! We were split randomly into groups of four for the competing heats. I have to confess despite my previous athletic career to being a failure in both the running and tossing part. David, as with most things is especially competitive and pancake racing was no exception, but elbowing Roland, one of our German friends out of the way, mid toss and making him drop his pancake might have been a bit much. Adrian, (also German) was aided considerably by the crowd, namely his three-year-old daughter, and it was this along with the fact that he is also half David’s age we think gave him the overall win and Olympic gold. Various dogs, got any pancake casualties and therefore were equally as full as us when the afternoon drew to a close. It was a lovely funny afternoon, with a wonderful twist on a normally traditional theme. Big thanks to J&A.
Continuing with the food theme from Karen’s Kitchen, on the Monday David and I whilst out walking came upon a delightful menu del dia. As ever, it wasn’t our intention to have lunch out, but of course once you have the bum on chair moment and have a sneaky look at the menu, you are drawn in – aren’t you?! I think the €9 menu del dia price also drew us in, and we were then totally hooked when that included one drink each with paella being one of the first course choices. Job done! My second plate was local tuna cooked in a lovely onion sauce with hand cooked fries, but after the paella it was a bit of a push to finish it. Thankfully somehow again, something was lost in translation and we never got the customary desert of flan, just a café con leche. Needless to say, the second part of our walk was much slower, but thankfully overall part of a 18k total step walk.
David and I, as we have said have been in this area for quite a while now and have explored as much of it as we can or have been allowed, and of course much of this exploration has included a few bars and restaurants. All of course in the name of research, expanding our local knowledge, culture, language etc. So, it comes as no surprise to us that more often or not we see the same locals in these various establishments. In fact, it would seem that wherever we are, they are, at any time. I would point out that this does include in the morning often as well, when we are having desayuno and coffee, but they are generally partaking in their first beer of the day (Just trying to dispel the belief that it’s the Brits that are the biggest drinkers). We, as I’m sure they have for us, have nicknames for the more shall we say colourful characters. There’s polyester sheepskin man, Alsatian guy, old toothless slipper man and parrot man, to name a few. However, it was parrot man that caused a bit of a stir amongst the rest of our gang on Thursday. Judy and Alan had not seen parrot man before and as they are very nice people stopped their motorhome to give him and his parrot a lift into Barbate. The parrot, who normally sits very happily and contented on his owners shoulders all day, has been having some kind of stress issues and is losing some of its feathers, so he was being taken to a parrot healer in Barbate.
There is no public transport in Andalusia that will take pets on the buses and so either walking of thumbing for a lift were his only options. It was upon arrival in Barbate that things then came a bit undone, when on getting out from the front seat across Alan and safely onto the pavement that the parrot decided that the windscreen visor would be a good perch and that given his stress, it was time for a rather large bowel evacuation on the visor, unnoticed by his owner. Also unnoticed by his owner was the fact that he left his rucksack in the van as well. It was then that David and I saw Judy and Alan cruising up and down Barbate’s high street, looking for parrot man so as to return him his rucksack. So, what to many other people might have been a strange cry, was to us partaking in a light lunchtime tapa quite a normal one. But that said Judy hanging out of the passenger window trying to avoid the parrot poo just by her head hollering “Have you seen a man with a parrot” did give us call for some amusement. Of course, on route stories had been swapped between them, with parrot man again underlining the amount of drug use in Barbate, and how they should be careful and so we had to ask them when we were all back on site, with the rucksack ominously sat in between us, whether they knew what might be in it. Let’s face it, men who perpetually walk about with a parrot on their shoulders aren’t exactly of the norm. So, with Judy and Alan, being law abiding citizens it was left to David and I to have a quick peep, just in case there was any illegal contraband inside. Otherwise, next week’s daily campsite visit from the Guardia Civil might turn out more interesting.
The next week will see our gang of five sadly break up. Judy and Alan are heading back to the UK, to pick up with their horticultural business and as they are travelling through France need a few more days and of course many tests and forms. Helena, is also returning back to Sweden in April to take up a job on a campsite, helping to run and manage it for summer, and with some restrictions becoming looser in Andalusia is taking the opportunity now to see a few more parts and to practice her Swedish on a fellow Swedish traveller. So, we decided to have a farewell lunch in Los Pinos restaurant across the way on Saturday. We all had one of the set menu’s, which was three courses of fish, starting with some delightful fried tiny prawns, then tuna taki, finishing with beautiful cod in a tempura batter. A few bottles of wines were taken and a complimentary shot before we all headed back to our vans all contemplating the weeks and travels ahead.
For us, we will remain a gang of three for another week or so, while we wait for a delivery and also to get some bits sorted for our new family member, but it will be with sad hearts that we say goodbye to our gang tomorrow.