Spain - Day 7 : Sunday
It was already warm when we got on our bikes at 8:30. The evening before, we had seen many giant ants in the area. In the morning, Bram noticed an overrun scorpion on the road. Fortunately, we hadn't seen one of those yesterday. There were also many dead snakes, so we would be extra careful the next time we dove into the bushes.
Besides it being Sunday, we would only pass two villages in the next 30 km. We had enough food to last until the afternoon but not water. In the second village, I noticed a garden hose spraying water. It came out of someone's garage and there were people inside. We still didn't speak any Spanish (besides supermercado) and didn't want to go in to ask for water. After a while, still no one had come out, so we quickly filled our bottles. When we were done an old man walked by who had seen everything. A hundred meters further, we passed a public fountain with drinking water.
We also passed a sign saying we were in the 'Extremadura' region and started climbing early. It would also get super hot today. Like all the other climbs in Spain, this one wasn't very steep. It was only a short time until we reached Puerto de, San Vicente.
On top of the Puerto de San Vincente.
After the climb the road swayed down the mountain. We knew there would be a second climb. The farther we descend, the more we would have to climb an hour from now. Unfortunately, we descended a lot. At the bottom, we crossed a river. Then the road started going uphill again. There were gravel hiking trails everywhere. We came near the city of Guadalupe, but not close enough to buy food or drinks. Around noon it was really warm again. We weren't on top of the mountain yet but sat down in the shade to have lunch. The Puerto de Puertollano was, at least for now, the highest point of our trip. The following 100 km would be relatively flat.
Puerto de Puertollano
After the climb followed a short descent.
View during the descent
It hadn't rained here in ages.
After the steepest part of the descent we went gradually downhill for another 40 kilometers over a perfectly straight road between rice fields. Growing rice in Spain might seem odd, but it is the most important ingredient of Paella. Yesterday I had a sore right leg. The tendon on the left back side of my right knee hurt while climbing. It seemed to get irritated by rubbing against another tendon, maybe even inflamed. During the 40 km long road it started to hurt more and more. What was supposed to be an easy part became a two-hour-long struggle. Eventually, we reached a small village with a bench where we sat down to eat. Continuing like this for another day would be impossible. If it would hurt this much we wouldn't even make it back in time for the bus. Coincidentally or not, Bram was hurting in the same spot. We both decided to lower our saddle.
In a bar we bought ice cream. We asked if we could fill our 1,5L bottles. After the break we continued through the heat. The pain in Bram's knee was mostly gone. Mine was still there but mild enough that I could at least continue.
This part of Spain was a lot greener because there were many rivers. We passed a large lake with a dam. We had a second lunch near the river, during which Bram noticed a wild turtle in a pond. There were cacti and palm trees, so we were really in the tropics. After dinner, we left the river area, and the landscape became dry again. Suddenly we saw it, we had often seen it in cartoons and wild-west movies, but this was the first time we saw it in real life: a blow-over-the-road-bush.
View over the dry plains without any sign of life
After the bush followed many hot kilometers with a headwind. We cycled through more nothingness with much dry grass, straight roads, and bull farms. In Campanario, we found an ATM and searched for a store that was open on Sunday. Everything was closed in the town center. In a bar we had some cola, there was no one else. The owner sat in a chair watching the Spanish Discovery Channel. We ordered two cold colas and then another two. I tried to ask if we could buy food somewhere 'mangara?'. I only knew the word for 'food' and not 'where can I buy'. The owner replied, 'non entiender' or something like that. He didn't understand, but I did understand he said, 'I don't understand'. Again some more Spanish we learned. He did understand we wanted water after we asked and then returned with our empty bottles.
In the village, we found a cart selling candy. We bought four bags of nuts as an emergency supply so we at least wouldn't starve. When we left the town, we passed a gas station. Fortunately, it was open and sold food. We bought three pieces of bread, a jar of honey, and some bottles of water. They boy behind the counter looked confused at us buying such a large supply of food.
After the gas station, the road became more hilly. We cycled over long undulating hills, each several kilometers long. There were poor villages with decayed houses. It again looked like the wild west. At the end of the day, we entered an agricultural area with farms every few kilometers. This was not ideal for wild camping, but we still found a spot between some olive gardens. On the other side of the road was a farm. The dogs there continuously barked, maybe because they had heard us or, more likely, smelled us.
Past 8 o'clock, it was still over 30 degrees. Today we drank about 5 liters of water per person. I was happy that the pain in my knee had subsided.
The view from where we camped
Our camping spot
Bram's bivy bag and my tent
The ground in between the trees was rock solid and filled with stones. We didn't sleep much.
The route of day 7.
Distance cycled : 168.55 km.