Off Topic: A Road Trip to Aguilas
It’s only about an hour up the road, but I’d never been before, so we decided to take the Boomobile, our art & music studio on wheels, up there for the weekend, free of the internet and well, everything really. It proved to be a great idea. Parked by the bustling harbour, we spent the time exploring this lovely seaside town and its many treasures, on foot, and by boat. Treasures such as ….the immense and expensively-restored Castillo de San Juan de Aguilas, perched atop a vertiginous cliff rising out of the sea, not for the Cardio-impaired! (They’ve built an impressive glass-walled lift shaft for the last killer 300 meters, but sadly seem to run out of money before they could purchase the lift to go in it!)
….the dual windmills that sit on opposite hills rising out of the town, as if waiting for some modern Don Quixote to come tilt at them. One is restored to former glory, sails and all, the other still a little worse for wear, and recipient of the some of the relentless graffiti that blights the town.
I have a problem considering all graffiti as art. Some yes, but to blanket all of it with this moniker is to bestow on it a worth that frankly 90 % of it does not merit. Some uneducated git spray-painting that his bird who dumped him is a puta is not art, it’s ugly, and moreover criminal damage. The harbour wall that faces the sea however has some marvellous graffitied (is that a word?) murals on it, but there’s no fun in it when you’re actually allowed to do it, is there? Mm…..
…..The Don Pancho boat trip, what a wonderful way to spend 7 euros! The whole experience was pure entertainment, and I’ll tell you why. Firstly, the lady in the kiosk whom Miki bought the tickets off was extremely friendly, secondly, as we sat in the pointy end waiting for others to embark, we were witness to some great cabaret: one guy let slip a ten euro note which the girl taking the money failed to retain, and it fluttered into the drink, causing the Captain to (impressively quickly) assemble a long handled net and go fishing for money, successfully too. I managed to restrain myself from asking if we’d be fishing for 50 euro notes once we were in deeper waters. It didn’t end there though, one would-be passenger alighted on the deck minus one flip-flop, which ‘flip-plopped’ into the water also! True to the saying that the sea gives up its dead, the soggy footwear was rescued, this time by judicious and speedy use of a boat hook by another crew member. I turned to Miki and said “If we’re having this much fun before we cast off, it’s gonna be worth the money!”
The whole crew were great, and clearly loved their job, or at least gave a superb impression of doing so. Smiles all round, and the guy tasked with the commentary on our jaunt up the wilder coastline to the north of Aguilas was passionate about his subject. When the sleek dorsal fin of a dolphin broke the surface off our port bow, he was about as ecstatic as we were. I can only say it was mesmerizing. Time after time it buzzed our vessel, playing with the wake, darting off, leaping out of the water to our cries of childish delight. Witnessing a dolphin in the wild makes one regress. It reduces life to a microcosm of simplicity, to something almost Utopian. It speaks to the very depth of your being, of freedom, innocence and sheer, unadulterated joy. I’ve swum with dolphins in Venezuela, but they were in captivity, more’s the pity. This is were they belong, and seeing one exuberant, dancing on the waves where it’s supposed to be, is a privilege, and something I’ll never forget.
The great thing about disappearing for a few days in the Motorhome is, you can choose what your backyard looks like on a daily basis if you fancy. We were perfectly happy to stay put for most of the time at the foot of the castle.
After exploring the town in the mornings, I’d often just sit by the boats and read…tranquility doesn’t begin to describe it. Actually it really doesn’t because the seagulls sounded like a bunch of women at the January sales, but, it was relaxing, honest!
We took the Boomobile out into the mountains North of Aguilas too, for the hell of it, got lost, ended up on a road that…well, ran out of road, in a place called Cuesta de Gos. When I say ‘place’ it’s intentional, it wasn’t big enough to warrant being called a village. The tarmac ran out, and there was a church. Not fancying taking 3.5 tons of Motorhome on a gravel track to who knows where, I turned it round, and purely by chance spied a quite wonderful statue under an almond tree. Remember – we were totally in the middle of nowhere. We discovered it was a statue to, and the initial resting place of, the Internationally known Spanish actor and director Paco Rabal, who had a huge career in Spanish film and received numerous awards. Miki thinks she may have actually seen him attend the Alfas del Pi film festival many years ago, and indeed he was part of her consciousness throughout her whole life in Spain. He’d died in 2001, and this memorial had been erected 10 years after his death. He had been born here, in this quiet, beautiful and unassuming valley. On our travels, we often stumble upon wonderful little moments like this, and that’s part of the beauty of it.
I’m going to close this post with Paco Rabal’s own words, translated from the Spanish, and which are inscribed by his feet on the statue.
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