Cádiz; A Personal Note

As I keep saying to myself and to others, those early days of this course, they seem like a lifetime ago. But when it’s all over, it’s going to seem like a momentary intense month lost in the stretching of years.

There is now a week left and suddenly we find ourselves about to leave the rigmarole of loading with particulars at the harbour and set sail into the unknown ocean of choice and choosing. It will be like the end of an absorbing book, film or an experience that although enduring, loving and ever lasting comes to an end. The horizon will stand out like it has done before; i imagine it beautifully clear, tinged with a romantic pink gently caressing the blue metallic sea.

These feelings were expected but finally I find myself close to the finishing post. Time to drift and with the wind navigate the boundless waves of opportunities to the next challenge. There will, at the end of this, be a chance to regain my self, my ways and even my health as long hours of hard tefl come to a close.

Thats one way of looking at it, the other is to say thank f*** it’s nearly over. Now hopefully night time dreams of past English teachers and impossible explanations lost in a sea of present perfect can come to an end and i can eat vegetables again and drown in sleep rather than be dunked in and out.

I jest a little, it’s been a wonderful experience, not life changing but life enlightening. It’s not over of course, anything could happen in the next week for me to speak to the contrary. But I would like to utter a thank you to someone, that there was a week in the middle where i was able to de-wobble, compose and breathe and that on my blog i can comfortably start this sentence with a conjunction.

How long were we teffling? as the clouds part and we reflect not about one lesson but a whole sequence. More on that, everything else and others next time and not just my use of the sea as a comparison to my thoughts. You will read about it here.


North to Galicia: Day Fourteen

We are towed from the campsite in the pouring rain in the morning. We’d imagined we’d be getting insurance to take us home but are taken to a garage where the engineer is keen to solder plastic all over our problem. “It’s a temporary fix but it should get you home” he smugly says. Book into a hostel for the night, play scrabble and watch Bradley Wiggins on the telly.

Before dinner we have a brisk walk by the harbour, gaze out to sea and then feed our insatiable appetites with hot squid and chorizo, green peppers, scallops and chat to a couple of stargazers on the next table. Take a glass of the local firewater before bed, served by a wild boar of a woman.


North To Galicia: Day Thirteen

Day trip to Vigo. It resembles a grubby clutter of granite falling down to the sea under a demoralized overcast sky. We end up on Rua de Pescaderia where we don’t eat the oysters. This famous street is jammed with perfume sellers, restaurant sharks and people eating mammoth seafood platters. A Romanian accordion player recognises me from Cádiz. Evening in the campsite bar watching Olympics.


North to Galicia: Day Twelve

Take a bus to Villagarcia at lunchtime to see the van for sale, which leaves us further hesitant as to a plan. After a lazy afternoon walk back into the town at dusk. We amble round the rough and ready fishing port, stepping over ropes, appreciating seaweed and strolling through wafts of hot oil and deep fried fat that clung to our clothes. Taxi home at midnight.


North to Galicia: Day Eleven

It’s a hot, hot day as we sit in perfection at the campsite, playing scrabble, though there are one or two underlying thoughts draped with uncertainty as to the journeys end. Eat simple and flawless dinner of salty chicken and chips at the campsite bar while pondering an advert for a van we had seen at reception.


North to Galicia: Day Ten

Spend inspiring morning in Betanzos before heading south, but soon realise that the water leak is too severe to continue. So filling up every 10 minutes we head to a campsite in Villagarcia to work out a plan. The campsite is by a lovely wide river and we watch other campers set up while playing scrabble as the sun burns away our problems. By darkness for some reason I am vomiting.


North to Galicia: Day Nine

The van struggles to start in the morning so we breakfast in a dreary café in town. Later, the van breaks down on the motorway. We eat an empanada while waiting to be towed as we are rocked side to side by traffic roaring past us on the hard shoulder.

Spend the afternoon in a friendly Citroen garage as a water leak is assessed. After some repairs we are told we will have to top up the water as we travel. “Should be ok.” They say. So after a drive to a non-existent campsite spend the night in medieval Betanzos watching the Olympics opening ceremonies and eating glorious yolky tortilla.


North to Galicia: Day Eight

In the morning hire a kayak and glide up the emerald green and sea through waters of the River Sor. For lunch: Cockles with lemon, Green peppers from Padron, deep-fried Hake and some more Santiago cake in O Barqueiro. We are through the door of wonderful. Head to west coast in the afternoon to huge sweeping beaches and camping in Valdoviño. Lovely lentil slop for dinner.


North To Galicia: Day Seven

Drive into Galicia and the Rias Altas. I daydream of seafood feasts as the van begins to shudder unnervingly. Stop for night at O Barqueiro, a tiny fishing village down steep slopes. Drink Albariño wine with evening mist and spots of rain. Eat small tuna empanadas, Galician Octopus and a large slice of Santiago Cake. It’s all knocking on the door of wonderful and we are as happy as clams.


North to Galicia: Day Six

From the high mountain motorway we arrive in Oviedo for lunch in a cider house on Calle Gascon. Smells of rich Asturian stew waft up the street as cider is dramatically poured from great heights. Later drive to Luarca on the Green coast to pretty and peaceful camping on lush green hills with extensive views of the motionless ocean. Map out next few days to Galicia over a cold one.