Cabo de Gata, a small section of the Spanish coast where nature comes before tourism. A natural park, a protected oasis for wildlife; a place of deserts and deserted beaches, sandy coves and quiet villages and small towns. We went there on a tip off, and spent almost two weeks parked on or near beaches, wandering across arid hills full of wild thyme amongst bright flowers and pacing beaches restlessly through a spell of bad weather.
The calls of birds were our first impressions; from the natural saltwater lagoons mysterious bird calls and hootings filled the air but the reeds kept the singers hidden. We lay in bed and listened to what we thought were geese crying overhead and later realised they were flamingoes passing in flocks of red and pink feathers; surprisingly noisy, gangly and graceful.
Here on this little protected toe of land, jutting out from the otherwise concrete encased Costa del Hell, we found long dark stretches of sand with barely a soul to be seen. The boys rolled in the hot sand to warm themselves after plunging into the still-cold Med. We found tiny fishing villages, hardly changed in decades – a Spanish anomaly. The weather turned while we were at one of these, La Isleta, and the wind whipped stinging sand against our bare legs and turned the sea into a frothing frenzy. While our van rocked through the night I, feeling lonely, watched the waves through the curtains and wished for sleep.
At Aqua Amarga, another unspoilt small town on the sea, we returned to the van after a downpour to find Colin marooned in a mini-lake and all other motorhomes vanished. We, abandoning common sense, decided to stay and wait it out on a raised bit of earth in the once-river bed and watched the storm clouds over the sea and played cards as if we were camping in Wales. The darkness moved on after a day or two and we were rewarded with sunshine and swimming; bright sand and clear water right outside our door. Oh and pink luminous jellyfish too, mauve stingers,…but they didn’t deter us for long.
Something about the quietness, or the weather, or maybe just the empty space of all that freedom made us all think about friends and family and company in general. Long term travel can be a funny thing for the brain to wrap itself around. All those possibilities but only each other to wake up to every day. Together but alone. Cast adrift. Floating. Flotsam.