Had a fantastic day today. Left Portugal, crossed the border into Spain and finally filled up the van with reasonably priced fuel. The roads became noticeably better and the TomTom and I are now friends again. We decided to head along the coast to the Donana national park and then inland to join the main east-west road across southern Spain. The Donana park was a little disappointing to start with, miles and miles of identical trees and dead straight road. But we stopped for lunch overlooking the beach at Matalascanas (photo) and am so pleased we persevered, because further north we found the tiny town of El Rocio, where everyone either rode a horse, or drove a 4x4. The roads had no tarmac and every bar and café had a spaghetti-western style wooden rail outside to tether your horse. Fantastic. It looks as if it may well be a place that floods in the winter and certainly turns to mud when any rain falls. The flat marshlands were home to one of the few truly wild Greater Flamingo colonies in Europe – so we pulled over, I jumped out with the camera, and Ant checked the driveshaft bolts were all still doing their job. We continued north to join the main road east and had to take a bit of a detour due to a road closure (common occurrence as we have discovered in these parts). It felt good to be back in Spain, people were waving and honking their horns at us again (we think the Spanish like the bull on the front), but one guy chose to pick a particularly busy and hard-to-navigate 4-lane junction in the middle of Sevilla to honk his horn and frighten the life out of us, just to give us the thumbs up! Thanks mate. We passed Sevilla and drove through fields and fields of sunflowers, olive groves and orange trees before reaching La Puebla de Cazalla, we pulled off hoping to find a picnic area on the river to camp. We followed the river out of town, until it actually crossed the road making it impassable for us, so we figured it would be a quiet and beautiful spot to camp for the night; which it was. The morning however was a different story. The river may have stopped us, but it didn’t stop the quarry trucks which started ferrying rocks backwards and forwards at dawn… Or the tractors pulling huge metal ploughs … or the singing farmer (or was it happy howling?) on his motorbike with 7 greyhounds tied to the back!
“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins