South!!

 Home Up Souther Still?!?!  

 

We left Colom and made our way down the Balearics.  Again the log reads repeatedly "anchored in x, over sand, etc" often accompanied unfortunately with the hated word "rolly".  One particular high spot though was Cala Blanca on the north west coast of Ibiza - this was a lovely small bay with a couple of very up-market houses overlooking the bay with beautifully manicured gardens, a very small beach and nothing else in sight - and no rolling!   Anchored close by was a very luxurious sixty something foot motor cruiser with staff and lots of very shiny stainless steel with a Spanish flag.  A few hours later the dinghy from the smart cruiser came across, asked if we were British, did we play bridge and would we like to come across at 7pm for cocktails and bridge.  We said Yes please even though traditionally we never play together (too much angst).  We had a wonderful evening with Al & Greg, an American couple, who spend the summer in Ibiza.  We were waited upon, played bridge successfully and then were invited to stay for dinner - yes please.

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On down Ibiza, dodging the occasional thunder and lightening storms but managing to anchor somewhere, to Espalmador/Formentera where we picked up one of the new buoys.  Espalmador was one of our favourite places, but it's now like a car park for boats, all crammed in with just enough room - quite unpleasant - we stayed for 2 days and then set off overnight, with a full moon, for mainland Spain. We sped past Benidorm and its mass of highrise concrete and anchored inside the harbour of Torrevieja for shelter (dodgy holding so we continued the following morning).   

Passing Cartagena which was full, we stopped off the hamlet of La Subida which was very quiet, a good beach with a few other cruisers including a German boat  named  Coeur de Mer which attracted our attention in many ways.  When they anchored in the bay, about 10 metres of chain was dropped followed by a tall blonde athletic man who jumped over the bow.....a short while later he reappeared by the boat, more chain was dropped and he got back on board (we understand now that we was setting the anchor personally).  The other 2 crew members were female, one blonde and one brunette (both petite) and they proceeded to toast their arrival together.  The following day the girls went ashore to the market with another German couple in a nearby boat.  When they returned to Coeur de Mer however all was not well - the blonde athlete was strutting about naked, screaming at the girls - mainly the blonde one.  We thought perhaps there was a problem with the boat but couldn't understand the German.  The man continued to rage all afternoon which was very unsettling and he started to push the blonde about.  The  next day the violent outbursts continued together with the blonde female being hit while in the cockpit - at one point being strangled and then thrown to the floor with more blows.  At this point Lindy blasted our horn which sent the man downstairs very quickly.  We kept looking over but the girls didn't acknowledge our concern - they seemed to take it in turns to sit on the foredeck, having a cigarette and staring at the water but not speaking or comforting each other in any way.  The fury of this man was not abating and we felt quite helpless - we didn't want to make things worse by offering help and the neighbouring German boat turned the other way (presumably they understood  some of the problem). The following morning they had left the anchorage - and we will never know the answers to our questions.

We continued towards Cabo de Gata & Almerimar (170 miles with little in the way of shelter, a slightly dodgy weather forecast and Cabo de Gata's ominous reputation).  The weather was worse than expected, on the nose, gusting to gale force (doesn't anyone in the Spanish met office ever get sacked??).  Sheltered (if that's the word) in windy, bouncy sea in Cabo de Carboneras, the anchor spring broke during the night mainly because of the pounding - that's a first - we'd sat out 50+ knots without that happening.  So, up at first light, nowhere else looks any better, so on to Cabo Gata.  Wind moderates (hurrah!), round the cape and now it's behind us (double hurrah!!) different world.  Of course the wind continues to moderate and soon we're motor sailing across the gulf of Almeria.  We planned to anchor off Almerimar for a couple of days, before going into the harbour to stock up, but there's a new gale warning on the Navtex, so we go in straight away, before there's a queue.  Just as well there are no 14 metre berths left and we have to pay for 16 - any later and they may have been full and there isn't another safe marina for miles.  Almerimar is large, purpose built, featureless, boring, but very safe and comparatively cheap - it also has a Mercadona supermarket which will deliver to the boat!  We stay for two weeks as gales and contrary winds blow through and washed the salt off the boat.

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While we were there we took the bus to Almeria a much more interesting town.  It's the annual Feria with street parties every day and night and Corridas (bull fights) every evening.  We return the following day to see our first corrida, neither of us quite sure how we would feel.  Well firstly, feria is the best time to see your first corrida.  50% of women are dressed in their feria outfits - the very tight, colourful long dresses that almost epitomise Spain. The corrida starts absolutely on time - one of the few things in Spain to do so.  As the clock clicks to the hour the band strikes up, the gates open and the procession enters the ring - the mounted officials in black with plumed hats, the matadors with their quadriles (teams) of picadors and banderilleros all in their sequined suits and finally the mule team that will haul the dead bull from the ring.  The toreros bow to the president of the corrida and acknowledge the crowd.  This is the natural successor to the Roman colosseum.

A signal from the president, another blast of brass, the gates to the bull pen open and the first bull charges into the ring.  Half a ton of very unhappy and aggressive animal.  He stands blinking for a few seconds until he spots a torero on the other side of the ring, without hesitation he charges and the torero ducks behind the thick wooden barrera which surrounds the ring.  After the first few charges the matador enters the ring for the first passes with the capote (the large cape). This is the opportunity for matador, judges and the crowd to assess the bull and  whether it is strong, fit, brave and aggressive enough?  For example, not turning away from the waving cloak and trotting off in the other direction.  If he fails the test the crowd will be on their feet shouting and he will be sent back and a replacement sent on!  The crowd have also been assessing the matador and his team.  This is Feria a week-long party, they're all out to have a good time, but equally this is the only week of the year when these big name matadors all perform at their small town.  They also have to perform well, be daring, courageous and execute  their moves perfectly.  Any hesitation or attempt to work a few inches more away from the bull will be greeted with derision.  But generally it seems it is a good corrida, (we don't know enough to judge but it's all pretty exciting for us), several ears and 1 tail are awarded.  As the plaza empties the crowd seem in high spirits as they presumably make their way to bars and restaurants for the next stage of the evening.  It's only 10.30pm, it's Feria and by Spanish standards the night is very young.  We watch all of this from the edge and as the crowd disperses wander off to find our taxi back to Samarang.                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

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Up Souther Still?!?!

 

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