'Avoid Nordkapp and making rendezvous' was Grant Johnson's advice. Joint founder (with wife Sue) of Horizons Unlimited, the world's foremost long-distance motorcycle touring website, he knows a thing or two about long-distance motorcycle touring.
Well, we went to Nordkapp and found out what he meant.
My excellent brother-in-law, Weston kindly agreed to allow us to use the place in the south of Spain (Nerja) he owns with my sister Lucy as a repository for items I'd need to service the bike prior to the Africa leg of the trip. This, effectively, constituted the aforementioned, to be avoided rendezvous. I thought I'd left enough time for the Europe trip - I was wrong. So we've been having to get more of a move on than has been entirely conducive to the relaxed, easy, laid-back trip Angelika and I imagined.
|Wes and Lucy's place|
So we feel a bit guilty that we've not done Spain justice (but see below), so we've decided that we're going to use a little of our 'extra days' that are now available to us, to spend a week in the home of Flamenco, rest up some more, prepare mentally for Africa and take in some of the music and dance of the dispossessed in this most emotional of countries.
Cultural differences, as previously observed, are fascinating. Sometimes it's the low-key, non-tourist stops that are the most insightful.
We overnighted, on our race south, in the La Paz hotel in Alcantarilla just south of Murcia. It's a solid place, no frills or delusions of grandeur. It caters for workers and occasional travellers and has a typical Spanish restaurant/cafe bar, all coffee machines, bright lights, hubbub and a large TV screen. '!Diga me!' (Talk to me!'), is the waitress's opening gambit, more intimate and warm than it looks in print.
When we came down for dinner, they had bullfighting on the TV. And not some sanitised version. The torero kneeling before the bull's horns, the creature itself, shoulders soaked in its own blood and, finally, the moment when the bull fighter opens his underbelly to the bull's lunge to plunge the sword into the animal's spine.
I wondered about the morality of it. But, I wondered, is it more cruel, more dehumanising than, for example, factory farming?
The Spanish seem to be linked to their past more firmly than we are in the north. And not just to customs, but to what being human means - or meant.
Anyway, we had the football on before the gambas al ajillo arrived.
Being in Nerja is a watershed. Africa's next - and, truth to tell, I think we're a little nervous. Well, it's not worth doing if it's not a challenge, eh?