Saturday, September 21, 2019

Spain, bullfighting and Seville (6961)

What not to do
'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.

And then...
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 
When we discovered that Lucy and niece Georgina would be at the apartment, but gone by the time we planned to arrive, we decided we'd like to see them and bypassed Barcelona, Valencia and Murcia (all possible ports of call) in an unseemly schlep down the Autovia del MediterĂ¡no (I even got the Pillion on the bike at 5.30 one morning to make the most of the day on our longest run!) to reach them.

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.

In-restaurant entertainment
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?


  1. Pillion up and sentient at 5.30am? Good grief!

    Playing devil's advocate you could argue that factory farming isn't carried out for entertainment but to feed people. Eating meat may be dubious in its morality but at least it has a purpose other than providing a spectacle. Thought for the day over.

    Africa - now the adventure really begins. I know you'll embrace it, and I look forward to hearing about it - especially the food!

  2. I love your even-minded and thoughtful approach, but yes, bullfighting is way more cruel and dehumanising than factory farming. Some things should be relegated to the past. X


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