18th December 2016. Vera, Spain.

The weather was so awful when we woke up that I videoed the rain hurtling down and bouncing off the roofs on the other side of the road.  We decided to move on in the hopes we could leave the rain behind.  I wanted to visit Murcia but we decided that we’d come back after Christmas.  We reached the place where we were thinking of staying but as the weather was good and the roads were clear we decided to carry on closer to Roquetas de Mar where we needed to be for Christmas.

For some reason we must have decided that the drive in the heavy rain hadn’t been challenging enough and we decided to take a detour.  We left the main road at Mazarron and took the road through the Sierra de la Almenara mountains which is a protected area.

Thankfully the rain stopped as we drove through the mountains but there were some places where the road was beginning to flood.  It was well worth taking a detour, the landscape was different from the places we’d seen so far, however it was sad to see so many abandoned houses, I always wonder what happened to the families who used to live in them.

The landscape changed as we got back on to the main road.

We stopped at a beach beside Puerto Deportivo Juan Montiel at Aguilas to stretch our legs because I could see some huge breakers and I wanted to take photos of them and the surfers riding the waves.  There were a lot of vans parked there and we briefly contemplated staying there for the night but luckily decided to carry on to Vera.

We spent ages watching the surfers, it must be amazing to be able to do that.

We had a very exciting moment (well I thought it was exciting) when I suddenly saw a pink stretch of water and in it were FLAMINGOS, a bit further along I saw even more flamingos AND on one side of the road the water was green and on the other side it was pink then there were green and pink salt pools separated only by a thin strip of soil.

Further along we saw HUGE piles of salt, I couldn’t quite get my head around how the heavy rain hadn’t washed it all away, I was under the impression that salt dissolved in water, apparently not!

Trying to find the aire at Vera proved harder than we’d anticipated, the SAT NAV wanted us to turn right and plummet off a bridge!  She was adamant that was the way we should go, and she’s quite right we DID need that road but we were certain there was a safer way to get to it.

We drove down some tiny roads and Darren found somewhere to pull over to try to work out how to get to the road we’d seen from the bridge.  It was a bit hair raising, the roads looked like they were getting narrower but we eventually came to a reasonable sized one and drove for  what seemed an age down a country lane into the middle of nowhere.  We eventually found a tennis club and as tennis coaching had been mentioned in the book we assumed it was there.

We’re always astounded by how narrow the routes through to the pitches are on these sites and this was no exception as we had trees to the left of me, (sing along now) jokers to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you!……. sorry couldn’t help myself….. and marquees to the right making the route narrower than it needed to be.  There was mud liberally spread all over the route from the rain they’d had.

When we found reception we noticed there was a note on the door saying come to the bar to pay for a pitch and telling us that the electricity was out.  It didn’t mention where on the site the bar was but luckily Darren saw a UK van with a Welsh flag on it and a lady standing outside it so he asked her where to go, she told us there were lots of pitches but not to go right up to the top because it was very windy up there.

After he’d paid Darren drove us up to our pitch overlooking a valley.  It was such a strange landscape, I kept expecting to see a wagon train of settlers trudging along the valley and hundreds of Indians looking down from the hills opposite before fighting with the cowboys, I can see why they used to film the spaghetti westerns further down the coastline, although as Darren pointed out wouldn’t it have been cheaper for them to fly the director out to America and film it in the actual area?

When the sun started setting we walked up the hill to the top and took photos without the wire fencing getting in the way.  It was very strange, there was a cloud all along the hill on the other side of the valley and it lit up twice bright orange, the first time Darren saw it he assumed it was lightning but it happened again about 10 minutes later as we were walking across the plateau and that was it, very strange.

When we got back I decided it was time to clean the kettle; but got a bit carried away with the bicarbonate of soda (that’s what happens when you wing it!).

It rained again overnight.

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