Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spain 5

Our transition day from Mallorca to the mainland went smoothly and we landed at the Alicante airport around 4:00 pm. As dusk fell, we drove north along the coastal highway to Villajoyosa where we turned inland toward our destination, the small medieval village of Sella. Our hosts met us at the town square and helped us through the recently rain-soaked streets to get settled into "Casa Roc", our new home away from home.

Casa Roc is a series of small houses that have been painstakingly restored by a British couple who have relocated to southern Spain to run this business. Their chosen location, Sella, is a hillside village in the mountains just inland of Benidorm, a mega centre of beachside tourism. For us, Sella is perfect. It's a peaceful haven far from the hustle and bustle of the coast, much like our village in Mallorca.

The streets in the village are so narrow that cars cannot squeeze through, so we have to park on the outskirts and walk just like all the locals. This is a photo of the front of our casa, the best I could do in the narrow walkways.

Our hosts paid great attention to detail when renovating the house and the results can be seen throughout the rooms. This is a beautiful tile mosaic beside our front door.

Elise was very excited about Halloween when we arrived on October 30th. Spain celebrates, but it's much different than in North America. There was a village costume party, but it was held on November 3rd in the basement of their local community centre. We attended, but it was kind of weird to be honest, and we left fairly quickly. The Spanish children stood around eating white bread sandwiches and chatting in Spanish - we could tell that Elise felt uncomfortable. She did enjoy Halloween, though, and dressed up as a dancer before conducting a candy hunt throughout the house. We managed to buy a pumpkin at the local Carrefour supermarket and we carved it on the night of the 31st. It was a fun evening...

Fresh fruits and vegetables grow everywhere on the terraced hillsides. During our evening strolls, we can't help but gather up a few specimens, especially since so many seem to be laying on the ground in various stages of decay. Here we have salads made from our forages.

The climbing is quite good here, but in very contrasting halves. It's either on sunny, low-angle slabs (perfect for Elise and Pam) or on a steep, shady wall called "Wild Side" (perfect for me). Once again, all needs are being met, much like at the crags in Mallorca. It's unfortunate to me that this isn't always the case at the areas we travel to in North America. Rock type, local history and style seem to dictate the approach to route development in North America, which is very different than in Europe...

A donkey greets us each time we go through the gate to Wild Side. It's pretty aggressive and always noses into Elise's pack, which she loves. We fed it a pear, which it inhaled before drooling green saliva onto the ground.

We now realized we were very spoiled in Mallorca. The beaches there were magnificent as was the landscape and hiking terrain. We've been to the beach twice in the Costa Blanca, and although the sands are very nice, they don't have the same "wild" feel as the spots we hiked to in Mallorca. Regardless, we've enjoyed getting pummeled by the early November swell, but the water is definitely cooling off!

Play structure on the beach at Villajoyosa. Elise later claimed this was her favourite part of the day. Go figure.

We traveled south past Alicante to Santa Pola, a port of moderate size. Using our hiking guidebook, we did a rather disappointing walk to a lighthouse on the cliffs above the sea. The views were nice, but the walk was along roadways and under transmission lines - not the wilderness experience we were looking for. 

We did another walk in a gorge near the city of Alcoy, which was marginally better. We saw griffins circling overhead and enjoyed wildflowers, but the hike still had a somewhat ad-hoc feel. We hope to have better luck with some mountain walks. Right now I'd say we're zero for two in the hiking department, a far cry from the spectacular walks we did in Mallorca.

After a few glorious days of sunshine, the weather changed for the worse. We've been stuck in a cycle of heavy rain ever since, and this has made all outdoor activities unpleasant to say the least. Luckily, we have our comfortable house to relax in, but it feels like we are back in Squamish, housebound in November! Luckily, better weather seems to be in the forecast - we'll cross our fingers.

Making the most of a bad situation. A hike to the base of Puig Campana near Finestrat late one afternoon after the rains had tapered off.

We won't be climbing on that peak anytime soon!

Less than three weeks to go. We hope for better weather during our final stretch and to come home to the start of another good ski season!
Marc, Pam and Elise

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