Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cabo de Gata: San Jose

Sunday October 4, 2009

Since classes didn’t start until Tuesday the 6th, many people had made plans to travel after our Madrid trip. Some had already left by breakfast time, so MORE FOOD FOR US! The 6 of us who WERE riding back on the AIFS bus to Granada stocked up on the breakfast cookies once again before our 6 hour bus ride home. It was nice being able to sprawl out between two seats (with our seat belts on of course). I decided I am going to make a montage of olive trees, because during this bus ride I got so much footage! It’s crazy how many trees there are, and some of them don’t even seem like the farmers would be able to get to them! Once we got back, Will and I got everything re-packed to head off to the SOUTH, south part of Spain, Cabo de Gata. My professors and numerous travel books had said that this place had some of the best views in Spain. Unfortunately we took too long packing that we had to grab a cab to the bus station. This was actually pretty fun though because we told the cabbie (Antonio…taxi numero 73!) that we had a bus to catch in fifteen minutes. Immediately he stepped on it and we made it there with plenty of time. He talked to us the whole time (while swerving in and out of traffic…I’m pretty sure we went through a few red lights as well) about his American car, a Jeep Cherokee. He was really proud of it. He also told us that we were going to LOVE Cabo de Gata…so I started to get really excited! Once we got to the Almeria bus station, we were trying to find the bus that Paula told us we could catch to San Jose…a tiny town in the eastern side of Spain right in the middle of the Cabo de Gata national park. We looked and looked but all of the places we went to and people we asked said that there weren’t any more that evening. PAULA! There was only one that really went straight to San Jose, and since it was a Sunday, the last one that left was at 8:30…it was already 9:30. Will ran into these two English girls who had the same problem. They were studying in Almeria and had wanted to catch a bus to San Jose for the weekend. They decided just to leave the next morning, but we still had to find a way there! Finally we ended up just taking a taxi after about an hour of trying to find something cheaper. Oh well, at least we got there! After we were settled in, we made our way to the boardwalk to check out the sights. Seeing as it was dark out, all we could really see was that we were surrounded by some sort of LARGE hills. The town was built into these hills, and I could tell that our hike the next day was going to be difficult, yet fun! The place seemed almost deserted. I didn’t know if that was because it was sort of late, or because it was off season for travelling. Then I remembered that many of the travel books said that this town was always pretty tranquillo (relaxed). Just what I needed! Almost EVERYTHING was seafood, but I guess that made sense because it used to be a fishing town. Since neither Will nor I are big fans of mariscos, we decided to opt for something different. We ate at this little Italian place that had REALLY good pizza…it really reminded me of Punch Pizza from back in the states! Will got Spaghetti Carbonera that he really enjoyed. While we were walking along the boardwalk after dinner, we saw this older guy with his mini amp playing and singing. He sounded a LOT like Bob Dylan and played so many different American oldies. I wonder how he ended up in that tiny town…Will and I both agreed that he could easily play professionally!

Monday October 5, 2009

As we headed out in the morning, we saw that there was a bakery right across the street from where we were staying. It was pretty early, so we managed to get some pretty fresh pastries! I also grabbed a bag of muffins for our long trek through the hills. As we started off, we really weren’t sure where we were going, but got pointed in the general direction of Playa Monsul…a beach which is considered one of the most beautiful in Spain, and was also used in an Indiana Jones movie! We walked through the tiny streets of the town (that really looked like we could have been walking through streets in Greece) until we ran into a gravel road that looked like it was taking us away from the beach. Cars passed us and gave us odd looks, but then we finally found a sign that had a little map of the beaches. It directed us down this dirt path that looked like it would be perfect for mountain biking. There were SO many aloe vera plants as we walked, and very little shade. Once the aloe vera plants started getting to be fewer and fewer, their lack was made up for with the presence of a ton of cactuses. I could totally imagine a movie being filmed there! First we reached Playa de los Genoveses after about 40 minutes of walking. Seeing the beach was really interesting because we were still in the middle of the…desert. Behind us there were HUGE hills and in front us was desert that turned into a giant beach. There were only a few people there (who had driven…) so it was very relaxing. We hadn’t brought our swimming stuff, so we just walked along the beach for a little. Check out the photos…when they get posted! We found what looked to be the continuation of the path we had just been on, so we decided to take that. I’m still not quite sure what path it was that we found…but it definitely wasn’t for any old travelers. Speaking of which, we ended up being followed by this Spanish couple who was in their 50s (ok, they’re not OLD). We went along for a long time, having to hike up very steep parts of the hills to get over one and look onto the other. In between each of the hills was a tiny cove with its own personal beach. I kept expecting to see Playa Monsul, but as we made our way, it seemed like it would never come! When we stopped for some photos, the couple caught up to us. They thought we were Spaniards as well…and then we started talking. Apparently they had no idea what path we were hiking on either, so we all sorta wandered along together trying to get to Playa Monsul. THEN it got really interesting. As Will and I pulled ahead of them we saw that around the bend of one of the hills was this area where we were literally walking on a 60 degree incline of rock. I’m fine, don’t worry…it was crazy though. Will got some footage of it, and it was pretty ridiculous. The couple ended up doing the same thing as us…after I found a do-able path, of course. This lasted for about 40 minutes. We talked with the couple again and they had gotten their map out and saw that Playa Monsul was still quite a ways. The path we were on didn’t look like it was going to get any…safer, so we decided just to stop at that cove for lunch. We hopped down onto the beach and made our way to the shady part under one of the sides of the hill. The couple headed toward the opposite side of the tiny beach. Will and I ate our muffins as we looked out over the Sea. Then, the couple decided to go swimming. Spanish-style. Stripping down to absolutely nothing, they proceeded to go running into the Sea. I couldn’t decide if it made it more or less awkward that we had just talked with them. Regardless, it ruined any chance of me getting photos of this beautiful beach, because I didn’t want to whip out my camera and have them think I was a creeper taking pictures of them. Oh well, there were plenty other photo ops. Right before we were about to leave, we realized that we were sitting right next to a boat that had been completely covered with sand. Only the bow of the boat was sticking up, and it was at quite a sharp angle, so it must have gone at least 20 feet under the sand. Wow! Again, unfortunately I was unable to get a picture of this, or else in the background there would have been the carefree couple, haha. We made out long hike back to San Jose, but not before running into even more couples doing the same thing as the one we had met! Each little cove seemed to just call to these people…however we didn’t see anyone our age doing it, so we decided against it, haha.

Once back in San Jose, we headed to the beach that was right there in our tiny town. Surrounded by fishing boats instead of tourist shops, this beach felt a lot less touristy than Roquetas del Mar. We laid out there for a while, people watching and enjoying the view. After the sun started to set, we headed back to freshen up before we took a sunset walk past where all the boats were tied up. We climbed out onto some rocks that allowed us to watch the sun set against the far end of San Jose’s cove. It was really beautiful. (Again, check out the photos once they’re up!) We made our way back into town for another Italian dinner, this time at a different place. Will and I were so hungry from our 5 hour hike that we each ordered our own pizza…not what all the other people there were doing, but we were HUNGRY. The guy kinda looked at us funny when we ordered, but you should have seen him when he came to get our empty plates at the end, haha. I think he was impressed that I had just eaten equally as much (if not more…because I eat the crust) than Will! Funny, fat Americans. That’s Will and I in a nutshell…at least that night. We sat out along the beach for a while, listening to the Bob Dylan guy again. I decided that if we saw him again before we left the next day that I’d give him a bit of a tip. He seemed to be following us to give us a soundtrack to our weekend.

Tuesday October 6, 2009

We decided to catch one of the only two busses going from San Jose to Almeria. It was to leave at 3:00 and we weren’t about to miss it. We were walking across the street to the bakery when I heard our Bob Dylan friend. He was literally right outside of the bakery…how did he know. After grabbing another yummy breakfast from there, I tipped Mr. Dylan and we headed toward the beach to pass the time. We ended up finding a nice spot in the shade of one of the palm trees. I kept thinking about how happy I was that I wasn’t in the states waking up (in the cold) for class. Mmmm…how relaxing. At 3, we hopped on the Bernardo bus and rode back to Almeria. We caught an earlier bus back to Granada, which was good because I still had a few things I wanted to do before classes started the next day. Overall, I think Cabo de Gata has been one of my favorite trips so far. While the others have been very historically informative, I really enjoyed all of the nature of Cabo de Gata and San Jose. Now, if only pictures could do it justice...

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