Spain across

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(>Pictures at the bottom!)

…to the Mediterranean Sea
In Santiago de Compostela we decided to postpone our trip to Portugal for the time being, as we would probably have to be in quarantine for a fortnight if we returned to Spain. At the same time we heard that even the Spanish government wants to put the inhabitants back on a “shorter leash”; the Corona pandemic is far from being eradicated! The weather was also very changeable and cold, which we both don’t quite like. Therefore we decided to drive across the huge country to the Mediterranean coast, where probably the tourist infrastructure has not yet completely gone into hibernation and the weather will probably be a bit more stable.

So we set out on the long journey to reach the mouth of the Ebro at the Mediterranean Sea at some point. But there was no hurry and we wanted to stay true to our motto; side roads as far as possible. The sun and renewed warmth tempted us once again to follow the coastal mountains southwards on some alpine roads. The next weather disturbance was announced for the day after next.

High above Pontevedra the first rain came and we had just enough time for a short breakfast. Almost exactly on the second when the back door closed the rain started and in a few minutes our way back to the main road turned into a slippery section. So we did without further off-road ways; besides the heavy rain there was thick fog in higher altitudes.

On the tarred road our average speed increased considerably and we became real “kilometre eaters”. Despite the bad weather we tried to follow as many side roads of the Portuguese border as possible. The attraction would have been, despite the later disadvantages, to simply change the border and drive through the Portuguese hinterland to the very south.  But this time we stuck to our decision and continued our journey eastwards towards the Mediterranean.

Sierras after sierras followed, followed by wide plains where the farmers diligently worked their fields before the coming rainfall, and again our road climbed up to the next hill. Even at higher altitudes, the farmers worked the fields and sowed the seeds. We were also surprised that we were always between 600 and 1300 meters above sea level and that in the evening the thermometer often fell below the double-digit range. The further east we went, the drier the weather became, but in the morning it was the fresher and the sun needed its time to warm up our “cooled” bodies again.

Shortly before the Mediterranean coast, a last mountain ridge rises, which again captivated us, where we soon turned into some valley and enjoyed the varied landscape, far away from sea and sand. In this way we also discovered – more by chance than by planning – wonderful valleys, where the stream tortured its way through narrow gorges, or we crossed high crossings as if it were somewhere in the Alps. The joy of discovery drove us more and more to climb up somewhere and discover a new valley, until we looked down on the Ebro Delta from far above.

The vast Ebro Delta was the exact opposite of what we had experienced in the previous days; it was simply flat. There were still many kilometres to go to the sea through rice fields, where huge combine harvesters with caterpillars were rummaging through them and threshing the rice. At the southern edge of the delta, where many birds find a place to stay for the winter in a large nature reserve, we searched in vain for an open camp site. Frustrated, we soon found out that the 2020 season did not take place here either, or was very shortened. We did not dare to leave our jeep on the beach, because the prohibition signs were omnipresent. So we parked our jeep on a car park for motorhomes, where there was no further infrastructure – e.g. WC, etc. – for camper minimalists like us.

The next day we went further south to look for an open camping site, where we could do our laundry as well as the people. Along the coast many campsites were already closed, which caused us a certain frustration. Hopefully it will be better further south and not have heavy padlocks hanging everywhere at the entrance gates. Luckily we found a place where we were admitted – as campers – to the last free place. All other places were occupied by permanent campers, who probably had fled here from some town or other and so were able to escape the corona restrictions a little bit.

We booked two nights at once, so that we had enough time for all the work and some maintenance work could be done on the jeep. The first day was relatively quiet and we were able to do a lot of work. On the second day, around 20 Arabic-speaking men arrived at noon, probably harvest workers, who were accommodated in three bungalows opposite us. We wondered how these people could share the confined space and deal with the corona measures? And, how do these people even get here? In any case, for us the borders to Africa (Morocco) are still closed and this year hardly anything will change. But we had the Moroccan flair right next door, it was almost like in the souk of Marrakesh 😉

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