2nd November – 6th November 2016. Cabanes, Spain.

We were Billy No Mates again this morning, everyone has gone and left us.  We’ve had a lovely stay here and it’s a place I’d love to come back to visit again properly next time.  The sun was rising over the mountains when I opened the blinds, a beautiful sight.

The road to Cabanes was VERY windy, stunning scenery and pretty villages but petrifying in places nevertheless (no just a lovely twisty drive, mind you for some reason I kept having the urge to sing ‘we’re the self preservation society’ [I stand corrected, apparently I didn’t have the urge I was actually singing it!]).

We stopped twice to take photos of the beautiful views, as we looked at the view from the second pull in Darren noticed a sign for people driving towards the way we’d just come telling them the speed limits in France, until that moment we weren’t actually sure how close the French/Spanish border was and as we drove a bit further up the road we came to a derelict building in the middle of the road which looks like it was the old border control building although it was hard to tell under its layer of graffiti, I can’t imagine it looked like that in its heyday.

As we passed the sign telling us we’d entered Spain we were rather dismayed to notice that the road was equally as windy as the one we’d just driven on in France but it had the added excitement factor of being rather narrower.

‘Luckily’ the mountain side was on my side so I was able to watch the rock face whistle past the wing mirror by a hair’s breadth, much better than hurtling along a cliff edge. Darren had the dubious pleasure of watching lorries hurtling towards him as he drove round the hairpin bends (I much preferred my seat) and to add a frisson we were over taken a number of times on the windy roads, on one occasion by an ambulance, mind you he probably had good reason to over take.

I really do hope I stop being such a wimp by the end of this trip, currently it seems the only places I can travel to where I can’t possibly moan about mountains roads are Norfolk and Holland.

We found the aire easily this time.  It was in a field in front of the owners large house, there were a number of other caravans and motorhomes there and at first we thought the occupants had closed up and gone off for a day out but when we looked closer we noticed the grass around them was slightly longer and realised they were actually being stored.

The lady running the aire was very nice and it turned out that the price included very good wifi and electric hook up which was lucky because for the next few days I felt very unwell and rarely left the van, I became the proud owner of a kidney infection which meant tracking down yet another pharmacy but this time a Spanish one, with hindsight perhaps we should have named this tour the ‘So Far-macy So Good Tour’.

We tracked one down and Darren finally persuaded me to leave the van.   Although the pharmacy wasn’t very far away it seemed to take forever as we walked there at a snails pace.

I thought I’d been very organised as I’d written everything down in Spanish from Google before we left so the pharmacist could read it, unfortunately that didn’t help very much when she gave me the answer in Spanish, I hadn’t thought that one through to its conclusion.

The pharmacist couldn’t speak English and tried every way she could think of to explain why she couldn’t give me antibiotics over the counter, we gather she was trying to tell us something else too but I’m not sure we ever found out what that was.

She was so patient, eventually she gestured to us to come with her, she locked the pharmacy up, told a customer she’d be back in a moment and left him standing outside the door then walked us up to the doctors surgery a few doors away.  I thought that was very kind of her and assumed she’d leave us there but she came into the surgery and began looking for someone who spoke English who could help us.

Eventually a man walked in through the front door and she started chatting to him and explained what was wrong with me, then she said goodbye to us and went back to work.  It turns out he was the nurse and he spoke perfect English, thank goodness.  He introduced himself and told us what he needed to do, I assumed we’d have to wait for our turn but the patient who was waiting to go in gestured for me to go in first.

It was all went very smoothly from then on, the nurse took my details and asked for my E111 card which Darren had sensibly brought along just in case, that thought had never crossed my mind.  The nurse tested me for an infection and the doctor gave me a prescription, we wandered back to the pharmacy and the pharmacist sorted it out for me.  They were all such kind people.

Unfortunately when we got back to the van we realised we’d forgotten to get more paracetamol (we’ve only got a first aid kit because my lovely Mum made one up for me and my Step mum added some other items to it other wise we’d have had……. Uuuum…….. nothing , situation normal).  Darren went back later when the shops had re-opened and a different lady was serving, however when the pharmacist from earlier heard his voice she popped out from the back and took over serving him we assume because she knew why he needed the paracetamol.

A couple of days later I went back to the chemist to see whether they sold probiotics, again I wrote it all down and the lady got them for me then I handed her another note thanking her for her kindness and she gave me a big beaming smile, it was lovely.  As we were walking out of the door she called out and we turned round, she was rubbing her tummy and said “Bien?” and I nodded my head, assuming that meant was I feeling any better.

What lovely people.

There weren’t many shops in the village and the few they had were scattered around the ancient labyrinth of streets, going shopping was like playing a game of hunt the thimble but on a larger scale.

After a few days at Cabanes we had a slow wander round the town as I did pigeon steps, I had no idea it was possible to walk that slowly, neither did Darren.  He had discovered a ‘Local Social’ on one of his trips to the shops, it was a lovely big room with a bar that sold coffee, LOTS of different tea, very nice cakes and tapas so even feeling as manky as I did it was unsurprising that when I eventually got out to stretch my legs Darren took me to the Local Social.

During my constitutional we also paid the supermarket a visit, it was TEENY but as we were taking our purchases to the till Darren caught sight of a shelf which had 3 buckets on it and they all had lids, we’ve been looking for one of those ever since we first arrived in Germany.  It brightened the day of the lady on the till, she thought it was a great joke as she put all our other items in the ‘colourful’ bucket that Darren had chosen and popped the lid on, I must say Darren looked very fetching carrying his new handbag around the village.

While we were having coffee the local social (my first in over a week, perhaps I’ve been having caffeine withdrawal symptoms as well!) we saw the man who’d let me go in to see the nurse before him, I wanted to thank him but all I could do was smile at him and say “hola” and hope that it was enough that I’d recognised him, he seemed happy that I had and replied to me and as we left the cafe later he smiled and said something else to us.

During the time we were in there Darren had a brain wave and decided a good way to learn items on a Spanish menu would be to photograph the menu and look them up when we got back to the van, it was a SUPERB idea however when we got back to the van none of the words would translate on Google translate Spanish, he spent ages trying to get SOMETHING to translate but no luck until a little lightbulb pinged on in his head……….he was trying to translate Catalan.  As soon as he put in ‘Catalan’ that was a whole new ball game but he then decided we would soon be leaving the Catalan area so he wrote down different types of food and drink and Google translated them to Spanish, it remains to be seen whether we will still have the list to hand when we go to a restaurant!

On my second venture out we passed a pretty little bird sitting at the side of the road,  there must have been something wrong with him because he didn’t fly away when we walked, unfortunately when we got back later a huge motorhome was parked outside the aire and they’d squashed him.

I did have some unexpected entertainment while I was confined to the van.  Every evening at dusk I watched bats swooping and diving through the sky, every so often they’d flutter across the van window, they were fantastic to watch, it’s amazing that they don’t collide with each other at the speed they fly.

During the day the owner’s dog became the entertainment, he was VERY cheeky.  He’d wander around the aire looking for something naughty to do.  I photographed him on one occasion walking along looking sneakily around as he went, a moment later he appeared with a bag of rubbish that he’d helped himself to, he had another quick look round to make sure no one was watching then broke the bag open and had a quick rummage before choosing a choice morsel to nibble.  He spent quite a while with that then the excitement of his naughtiness got the better of him and he had a ‘victory’ roll on the grass for a few minutes.  He eventually had enough of that and sat up had another quick check to make sure no one had seen anything then lay there looking like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth with a very smug look on his naughty face.  Hee!  Hee!

We had a big lightning storm the night before we left, the owner’s father had warned us that it was forecast to rain later in the week and he was concerned that we might get stuck because the site didn’t drain well.  We could see the lightning flashing through a gap in the blind and I was initially tempted to lift the blind so we could watch the spectacle as I knew my friend Stu most definitely would have if he’d been with us, however it turns out we’re not that brave and instead we pulled the blind down completely and pretended it wasn’t happening.

Three days before we left the aire a UK registered van arrived and the man came over and started chatting to Darren then his wife joined the conversation.  I felt really rough at that point but sat on the step and talked to them from there rather than seem anti social.  It’s a shame we would have loved to have invited them in for a drink and a chat like all the kind people we’d met on our journey had done with us.   They were in the exactly the same position we’d been in 6 months ago, they’d just bought their motorhome and were on their first trip.  I hope we meet up with them at some point during our trip so we can have a longer chat and find out more about the journey Jim took to Morocco in a transit van with his mates during the 70’s, that sounds like an adventure.

We made a decision to move on to Figueres which was 5 km down the road, our original plan had been to cycle there but that was never going to happen now so Darren suggested driving there and staying overnight then if I was still feeling rough we were still close enough to return to the doctors surgery.

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