The Travel Chronicles, weeks 3&4


Walking again, along the riverbed and up to Sacromonte, then back to meet and old friend.

He did his Erasmus at my faculty some 15 years ago – I’d just returned from my own Erasmus and made friends with many Spanish exchange students. We kept contact for a short while after they left, then slowly lost it. Except, when I visited Córdoba years later and told him I was in the region (not quite close, but a lot closer than normally), he travelled there to meet me.

And came to Málaga last year when I was there. And to Granada this time.

It’s always such a joy to see him.

I concluded the day with yet anoher walk through the Albaicín, a show at a Zambra and a drink with a family of Danes.


I seem to have found the best ever bike mechanic that exists. Not only did he do me a favour by taking up the work at all (they were full), he did the repairs from Thursday to Monday even as their current waiting time is at least ten days. On top of that, he looked over the bike and fixed a bunch of smaller issues beyond what I asked him to do.

Finally, I have a functional bicycle.

Málaga – Torrox, 49,3 km, 156 m.

Just to warm up.

Torrox – Playa Granada, 53,8 km, 577m.

I had to send a package home to make my luggage lighter. It included my dancewear, which feels like betraying myself, even though at this point it was more of a just-in-case  thing. I could still perform my Bike Song anyway.

Feelings of betrayal aside, those four kilograms make a huge difference when riding uphill.

Then I got to the camping, made dinner, half of which fell into my lap, then noticed I had a flat tyre.

Why would anything work, really.

Playa Granada – Castillo de Baños Abajo, 35,8 km, 382m.

I checked the tube three times under water, but couldn’t find the puncture. Naively, I put it back, thinking if it holds up for a while, it might be okay. It held up with only the luggage, but when I addded myself to the mix, it was flat in 2 meters. So I removed the wheel, checked the tube again, and found – and fixed – the puncture this time.

Off I went to Decathlon for some air pressure, then for lunch. The moment I left he place it started raining – a slow, gentle rain, exactly what the earth needs, but heavy enough that I got drenched in five minutes and needed to take refuge in the nearest bar.

At 5:30 pm, I still had almost 30 kms ahead of me.

How wonderful it is though to cycle on the empty country road after the rain, suspended between the hills and the sea.

I even saw some deer.

Castillo de Baños Abajo – La Garrofa, 83,2 km, 500m.

Empty country roads, suspended between the hills and the sea. Pines, rosemary, thyme on the roadside. And heaps of trash, as well as the stink of chemicals between endless rows of greenhouses in what seems to be a desert.

The Dutch cyclist I met a couple days ago was already in the camping and lent me a hammer to help me with the tent. I still struggled: the earth is dry and hard-packed, so a motorcyclist lent me a heavier one.

“What’s wrong with my hammer?” he asks.

Am I really supposed to get into whose hammer is bigger, after having cycled over 80 kms??

Sunday was a day for rest and maintenance, though slow as I was I couldn’t finish it all. I went to Almería looking for a salsa night in the evening – I had fun, but of course you can’t build the same sort of trust in a few hours as you do over the course of several months.

I miss my dancers from Cádiz.

La Garrofa/Almería

And this is how I didn’t see much anything of Almería: the ain gods have finally taken pity on the place, if not on this lonely cyclist, and cried all their tears on the one day I wanted to look around here like there’s no tomorrow.

La Garrofa – Cabo de Gata, 35,4 km, 94 m.

I didn’t mind the late start – though the tent, technically, stayed dry over the Great Flood yesterday, most my stuff was damp and needed drying this morning.

I did mind the giant puddles and the deep sand.

For a long time I resisted going inside the nature reserve, opting for the paved road just outside of it, but then the temptation proved too great, so I ended up pushing the bike around said puddles – having cycled through the first ones and found them deep enough to get my sandals soaked.

Then I got to the river, and found the ford – the Ford. I never thought I’d use the word ford to talk about my life. Anyway, it was flooded – whether from the tide or from yesterday’s rain, I’ll never know.

Cue another long, long walk pushing the bike upstream in deep, pathless sand and mud.

I got lucky at the next one, and promptly got myself into the camping, for that I’d done such a short distance for the day.

Cabo de Gata – Los Escullos, 32,4 km, 434m.

Some days, I take the easy road: the one that’s shorter, better paved or less hilly.

Not today.

The climb was difficult even on foot as I did about 90% of it, but rewarded me with some ridiculously amazing views – and the instant appreciation of an Italian cyclist (who, by the way, cycled up all he way, maybe without luggage but also without much difficulty) and her partner, who later invited me for coffee when I caught up with them in the village where they were staying.

Los Escullos – Sopalmo, 54,4 km, 860m.

I would have chosen the easier road today, but there were none.

After the second climb, I was already feeling funny, after the third I was definitely feverish, and by the time I got to the camping it was quite clear I had a heat stroke, or whatever they are called when they don’t get you all the way to urgent care services.

Don’t ask why I didn’t stop earlier. I’ve been working on that shit ever since I burnt out at work a couple of years ago, but old habits die hard, I guess.

Sopalmo – Águilas, 51, 8 km, 338m.

Here’s the dilemma: you’re clearly sick and need rest; however, you also need food, and the nearest place you can get any of it is about 130 height meters downhill.

First conclusion: folding the tent is more restful than the return ride from said nearest place. If you’re going that far, you might as well stay downhill.

Now, you might just roll down to said nearest place and then to the closest camping, and that would probably be a wise choice.

Or, you could wait until after 4pm so as to avoid riding in the heat, give yourself an hour to test the waters, so to speak, reserve a place yet another 30 kms away;

and embrace your slowness, knowing with absolute certainty that you will arrive.

Second conclusion: I can do 45 kms on not-quite-flat ground after working hours. Even when I’m sick, weakened and have a strong headwind against me.

I might not enjoy it, and I probably shouldn’t, but I can.

Third conclusion: you should not mess with my stubborn ass.

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