Reaching the bottom of Europe: Andalusia

I leave Victor’s house in La Romana for a sunny day in the interior roads of the province or Murcia. It is very quiet and I encounter little traffic.


 

The next town is Algueña, home to marble quarry and businesses.

20121220-DSC_3446
Algueña

 

I manage to make a few extra kilometers for not having been vigilant to the road crossings, and that makes me visit the fields.

20121220-DSC_3454

There is little happening today. The only surprise is to find 5 coins of 1€ on the road of a roundabout. The dry weather and the relatively hot sun gives a desertic look to the landscape and the hills. It’s only around 4 pm with a dimmer light that I find it beautiful.

20121220-DSC_3463

20121220-DSC_3470

For the end of the day, after Mula, I take the road from Pliego to Lorca on the north side of the Sierra Espuña national park, a small mountain range. The road is bordered with green fields and the colors are nice. It’s empty and there’s plenty of attractive grass to camp in. I already reached 100 km and it’s becoming darker, but I notice I have no phone network. Yet I want to finish a blog post (almost finished yesterday when the restaurant closed) and just need a bit of network to post it.

20121220-DSC_3477
Meeting the Sierra Espuña

 

20121220-IMG_1212
Sierra Espuña

 

Without noticing it, I already went from 200 m to 500 m. There’s a few kilometers to go and I see the sun setting behind what looks like the top of a pass. I decide then to continue and take the chance that the network will reappear there. The sky is now purple, with some peaks on my left, on a small road, it’s absolutely pleasant. And bingo, the network, even the 3G, reappears when I reach the top. But the best piece of news is that I am now at a viewpoint over the small valley between the Sierra Espuña and neighboring hills. I can see as far as Pliego, some 20 km away. A small track leads me to the edge of the hill where I find the perfect camp spot with a view as the night comes.

20121220-DSC_3485
Riding eyes up

 

20121220-DSC_3488
Glad the network quest took me here

 

20121220-DSC_3495
Dining with the stars

 

I cook under the stars with enough light brought by the moon crescent and I don’t even make use of the network since I just crash in my tent.

 

The next day, I wake up with the wonderful view as expected. The giant man-eating pterodactyl is still absent from his nest, and I spend the first part of the morning doing my picture work that I was too tired to do in the evening.

 

20121221-DSC_3506

 


 

20121221-DSC_3511
The nest of the giant man-eating pterodactyl

 

20121221-DSC_3513
Watching the news while having breakfast

 

When I start, all the good conditions are here: sun, downhill, scenery, good road quality, no traffic … and as usual in this case, the wind comes in to spoil everything. The headwind wants to make sure that I feel slow in the descents.

20121221-DSC_3518

I know I have passed to the west side of London as my GPS indicates now negative longitudes. It doesn’t go faster this side, but I still reach Lorca in a decent time.

20121221-DSC_3526
The impressive river of Lorca

 

20121221-IMG_1224
The impressive modern architecture of Lorca

 

I have then a boring choice to make about the route: either through the interior, qualified as boring and desertic by a restaurant guest the other evening, or closer to the coast, in the same valley as the highway. The best would be to be right by the sea in the national park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar, but it would take me too much time. So I go for the highway valley.

Time flies but there is little to be said about the route. It has long stretches of strait road, it is more or less flat, and I stop only to refill my water bottles at roadside bars. Several times, as the sun makes me drink more.

20121221-DSC_3528
Pulpí welcomes me in Andalucía

 

20121221-DSC_3529

I stop also at a petrol station to refill the petrol container of my stove. It’s funny to park my bike just like a car, and get petrol for 0.59 €, which is all I need.

20121221-IMG_1226
Pit stop

 

Around Cuevas del Almanzora, I notice that many houses are built inside the hills seemingly made of mud/sand. They have a facade like a house, but the rooms inside are caves. To end the day, I am offered a magnificent sunset behind a cloud pattern looking like the smoke that goes out from a magic lamp. I could see it forming during my last kilometers as I am cycling towards it.

20121221-DSC_3535
This one is just mud and windows

 

20121221-DSC_3550
My fantastically weird sunset

 

There, where the sun set, I am lucky to find fields of oranges (they are getting less and less) but a man roaming around doesn’t want me to camp inside. Instead he sends me 3 km further to an abandoned factory and offices. It’s a weird piece of advice, and involves still some road to go at night, but after all it might not be a bad idea to be protected from the rather strong wind. It is behind the Holcim plant (the second I see today) and offers Autocad magazines from 2001, but I’d rather sleep.

Day048-Bike-121221