My texan friend and I are both moved into our new places in the center of Sevilla and we have both started our new jobs. The city center is great; it is close to nearly everything, the streets are narrow and cool and paved in cobble stones. All those old world touches though have their drawbacks. The proximity of the going out places make it easy to stay for a penultimate drink and not wind up home til til teh early morning and when you finally do make it home to try to sleep the rattely sound of car tires vibrating over the pavers and party animals drunk laughter or argument bounces between the shoulder to shoulder houses until it finally finds the perfect angle to sneak into the cracked-open-bedroom window.
To escape all that for a few Days VAnessa and I packed our bags for our second adventure of this kind. She had recently asked for fridays off so she thought it would be a bad idea to turn up top sork with a hiking bag on a friday, which meant she left it with me and I shleped it over to the bus station. After making it through the city bus managing to only bang into a few people and smack one old lady in the face with the nylon strap of one of the three bags I was carrying, I made it to the bus station where I would meet Vanessa.
Our bus was to leave at 730; it was 728 whe we bought the tickets. VAnessa sprinted downstairs to hold up the driver, which worked and we made the bus. An hour or so later in huelva. we organized a plan and walked out of the city stopping along the way for a Botellin of beer here and there. Immediately the friendliness of the people in Huelva stood out; being near the coast must really do the soul good.
We made it to the A-497 which would take us to the lagoons of Portil, Where we were going to try to camp. I should add that camping in spain is Illegal pretty much everywhere unless in a specified campground; we wanted to be away from people. At the roundabout where cars catch the highwayWest we started flying a sign for a nearby town thinking we could make it to the lagoons in a few short trips.
A guy pulled his Volkswagen SUV into the service station to put some water in it and started talking with us. He said we were never gonna get there the way we were thinking and drew us a map saying it would be better to go directly to Punta Umbrilla and walk from there to the Portil lagoon. He told us also that the people around huelva are ¨catetos¨ or redneck, while putting his pen back into his camo patterned pencil bag.
Following his advice we sat down and made a new sign reading, ¨Pnta Umbrilla¨ and no sooner that I stuck it out a little Seat Hatchback pulled over and a couple, her from Salamanca and him from Huelva, pulled over. When we got to Punta Umbrilla they asked if we wanted to be dropped off right away or if we would want to continue talking over a beer and a few tapas, a question easilly answered. One turned to two and two turned to five (between vanessa and I). It had gotten to be late and we were ready to set up camp. As we got up and walked away I reminded them we still had to pay. They said dont worry about it, that they had already paid. Thanks, Juan and Patri.
They backtracked,to the beach, leaving us to walk off into the sandy night with a half moon glinting off the ripples of the Atlantic. with only a hand full of hours of night time left we climbed over a guardrail and trucked up into the dunes to look for a good place to set up.
I woke up a few times hearing what seemed like himan noises but manages to get back to sleep. Finally around 815 the big one came; A man and his dog. The Officer and his dog were following our trail and had hit the end. My heart was pumping, what am I going to say, am I going to play dumb tourist ( It worked for Henri the french guy who was stopped when he picked me up on my hitch to Galicia). I shook Vannessa awake but she didnt seem alert or aware of what was about to happen. I slowly sat up and crawled on my knees to the front of the tent, carefully trying not to make any krinkly noise with the sleping bag or tarp. When I peeked out and around the tent there was no one.
After a max of 6 hours of sleep I wasnt ready to but we had to get packed up and get out of the dunes to eliminate the risk of getting caugh there. When we started walking only 3 minutes from where we slept there was a boardwalk crossing over the sandy hills and 5 minutes away was a main beach road. Our target for the day was to get to the Lagoon in Portil which would be an 8 km walk. We split the 2 hour walk between the hard packed sand right along the shore and the road that paralleled the beach.
A ways down the road we found a Chiringuito, or a little beach bar/cafe where we stopped to get a coffee and tea and take advantage of other civilized services. It was too beautiful and relaxing, we spend quite a while there on the deck staring out at the horizon before finally putting our bags back on and taking our shoes off.
We practiced Tying a few knots while walking using a piece of crapy nylon rope I found. I taught Vanessa how to make a whistle from a seashell and then a thudding base beat, faint in the distance came into range. A kilometer or so later we crossed the street, following the music. a party of about 25 people tops at maybe noon or earlier standing around discoteca grade audio equiptment blaring industrial electronic music. A kid invormed us it was a birthday party. Besides disturbing the peace and tranquility of the nature and thier questionable taste in music one thing really struck us on this trip; trash, garbage, rubbish, litter.
Things that belong in nature: plants, animals, insects, rocks, sand. Things that don’t: paper, plastic, man made glass products, tissues. I like Spain and like the people here but one thing I have to criticize is the attitude towards trash (which to be fair is similar in my own country). At bars in Spain it is common to see people throw balled up, used napkins at their feet, to see people throw sulifane wrapper from packages on the ground meanwhile there is a public trash can a few feet away.
these behaviors are reinforced by the idea that there are services to take it away, out of sight. every night bar keeps sweep it all up and big LIPASAM water tanker trucks come around while the workers pressure wash the streets and sidewalks. Unfortunately LIPASAM doesnt offer services and rightfully shouldnt have to, out in the dunes or up in the woods (when Vanessa and I went to the waterfalls we found used sanitary products and a shoe). what really tipped off this observation were the people of the party, who all seemed like cool people. They were dreaded up, tattooed, alternative looking. that look in my mind fits with socially concious. All of the sudden one of teh guys laun ched an empty liter beer bottle into the sea grass 20 feet away meanwhile there was a garbage bag in sight. I really wonder if they even took that garbage bag when they left that day or if it was just a pleasantry for the next person whose job it was to clean up after them.
The solution is simple. (skip if you are alread a carry-in carry-out practitioner. keep reading if not)
- If you are throwing a party out doors or simply taking a walk take with you as little trash to begin with. Empty beers and drinks into a cooler and leave the cardboard and plastic wrappers in a trash can at home. This goes for snacks or anything else you plan on bringing. Less trash brough = less potential for left trash.
- bring trash bags with you. bring as many needed as it will take to carry out what you brought in. Pretty simple equation.
- While walking and or cleaning up if you notice trash that isnt yours, it isn’t your responsibility but be a good citizen and maybe you will earn a few karma points for picking up someone elses garbage. if it looks gross try using a stick or one of your bags to pick it up.
- If you need to cleanse your soul, dig a hole. If there are no restrooms available bury your waste away from water sources.
we continued the hike with teh music slowly, slowly, slowly fading away. Portil was finally startig to get closer and eventually we hit the lagoon, which wasnt as impressive as I had imagined and it looked to be gated and guarded. So, we considered our next option, given to us by our friend at the gas station in Huelva, which was to go to the port and catch a boat across the rio piedras to the other side where we could camp in a more natural setting.
The docks were hazy in the distance, but a half hour later we were standing on the Nueva Portil Nautical Association’s dock, unable to get past the guard to the boats. under summer schedule there are boats every half hour but now there were none and we were hoping to catch someone who would drop us on the other side. after a while we came to our senses and realized, “how will we get back” an adventure I was willing to rish considering we had plenty of food and water and the distance across teh river was not too far andfiurthermore, by monday there would be plenty of fishermen who could give us a lift.
Since we couldnt get a boat ride we turned around and figured we could camp along the pine trees a 2 or 3 kilometers back, which would also be good because the road going back to huelva, which we would need in the morning was also close by. We sluggishly drug our selves back up the road sticking out our thumbs in half hearted attempts to catch a ride the short distance back. Fortunately a guy did stop and offered us a ride, which may tie for least distance traveled at once while hitching, With the old grumbly guy who took me up the road to a gas station just outside Segovia. But if a few kelometers is all you need and you get it safely, no complaining.
We hung out on the beach with our bags and had a snack while we gave the sun time to stretch to the west and give us some cover as we scurry up into the brush. It turned out our camp site would be pegged between two roads and in an area without a lot of under brush, just pine trees and relatively flat ground. We would be really easy to spot from anywhere. but it was the only choice.the one benefit was that teh ground had years of pine needle as a floor so it was like laying on a mattress, almost, besides the stick that was somewhere under my hip.
This time I even had tome to take out my hammock and rest a little in it. When we were scouting out our camp site there were sandy trails all around there were no recent footprints or motor cycle or fourwheeler tracks so I didnt think there would be any company. just when we got comfortable I noticed two heads wobbling along off in the distance, then I heard human voices and they became four heads; two human and two horse. We stayed still and they passed without looking over at us even though we were less than a hundred meters away.
Before falling asleep I asked vanessa how she felt about our chances of getting back to Sevilla she said no worries we will get back in three cars or less and we would make it back early.
I was exhausted every muscle from my head to my big to was sore and I had caught a cold but we had the good luck from teh apple and Vanessas prediction to motivate us. we set of walking and an old cycling woman rode up to us to tell us that she was looking to catch the bike lane all the way back to Huelva and then sped off. I Guess she just wanted someone to know her plan. We were walking backwards holding signs mine said SEVILLA and Vanessa’s HueLva, (not sure why she added the capital “L” in the middle). we came to a nice are which gave people a safe place to stop and before we even stopped walking a car pulled over. teh guy hopped out to help us throw our bags in teh back and we got into his sandy dog hair filled car:thankfully neither of us are alergic. teh guy couldnn, again, have been friendlier and gave Vanesa some smokes for the road after driving us out of the way to go back to the gas station where we started friday night when Vanessa thinks she lost her pocket knife.
We were confused about where to stand on the next leg of teh trip. there was a round about just before the on ramp for the interstate that connects huelva to Sevilla. teh shoulder of teh interstate is illegal, teh corner of the roundabout was creating a dangerous situation for drivers as they were distracted trying to look at us and merge with other cars. we sacraficed some time and energy and walked up the interstate and found an area just before an off ramp where cars could stop that also gave us some shade.
Just when I stuck out the sign and Vanessa was taking a picture a black Volkswagen pulled over and a lone woman with short black hair in her 40s got out and threw her purse in the trunk. We piled in and got on the road. She was headed to Jaen, way far from where we were going but on the way. She had been studying english so for about 15-20 minutes of our conversation was in English, which was fun. When we got close to Sevilla she began trying to figure out where to leave us. as we circled around the south west portion of Sevilla’s ring road I asked her to stop and let us out recognizing the huge bridge ahead.
The area was inhospitable to pedestrians but she would have only left us further had we continued. Vanessa kept wanting to turn around thinking teh city was back the other way but I was certain I could get us home, typical right? Vanessa was worried there wouldnt be a pedestrain portion for us to use when crossing the bridge but I assured her there would be, not knowing my self. We crossed the bridge uneventfully, collecting junk for her found object art project then climbed a wall and continued teh urban hike through an unfamiliar park where we sat and at teh last of our food while being attacked by flies. While eating we noticed a bus pass. Relieved to not have to walk back to the city center we paid.
When I got home and looked at a map as it would be, Vanessa was right.
How do you decide who follows and who leads when traveling?