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(>Pictures at the bottom!)
….escape to the South!
With new energy, clean clothes and a well maintained jeep we started the next stage and the goal was clear right from the beginning; we finally want to go to the south, where it will certainly be a little warmer than on the windy camping site near the Ebro Delta. No, again we did not follow the easiest way along the coast, but climbed again over countless sierras in the interior.
Immediately after leaving the coastal region with its orchards and huge greenhouses covered in plastic foil, it soon climbed steeply up the mountain. The orchards gave way more and more to the pig farms, and the pungent smell of liquid manure was in our noses even before we saw the stables. We also discovered sheep fattening between the pig farms, where the poor creatures are fed on their slaughter weight in miserable enclosures. In any case, for the next few days the slaughtered meat was off our menu.
The further we went up into the mountains, the lonelier it became and fewer and fewer settlements lay along our way. Empty houses, where all shutters were closed, often made up the larger number than the inhabited houses. Even collapsing houses in the middle of a village were not uncommon. Probably the inhabitants are long dead, there is no next generation or they live somewhere in another area.
Over many ridge roads and mountain ranges we reached for the second time the impressive town of Morella with its castle, which towers above everything. Because of the extraordinary location of the town, the water had to be conducted into the town from far away via aqueducts, which is today often marketed to tourists as the highlight; we, too, explored the last remains of a time long gone.
Actually we would have had plenty of time for further sightseeing, but the Corona pandemic drove us to continue our journey south. Some towns and villages were already closed to tourist traffic and our information was rather scarce. This also meant that we were always informed a bit afterwards and perhaps did something illegal. So we immediately drove further over mountains and wide plains towards the next Spanish region.
We enjoyed our trip through an almost deserted world, where only a few farmers worked in their fields or shepherds moved with their herds through the landscape. In many parts of the forest, adventurous trails invited us to take a change of pace, where we bumped over stones and roots at walking pace in places. Thus we reached the provincial capital Teruel in one afternoon, quasi through the back door. The silence in the city was nothing special for us and we thought more about the siesta than about any official decree. We went to an open supermarket to buy our food for the next three days and filled up the empty tank at the next petrol station. While paying, the cashier asked me in English where we came from and if we didn’t know about the lookdown in Teruel? The public life would be quasi stopped, the “entry” and “exit” from the city would be forbidden and controlled by the police!
Shock! A bit dazed, we planned to continue our journey and, as we reached the city, we wanted to leave it again; through the back door. We crept through the streets of the neighbourhood and soon found the way to our rescue, which led over a field into a wide valley. In any case, the feeling was strange and the bad conscience of having done something forbidden kept us busy until the evening. For the evening camp we looked for a well protected place in an open pine forest and hoped that we would not be hunted down by the hunters the next morning.
We continued to follow the backroads, where hardly ever a police patrol is on the way and thus experienced many stretches where we had to take a deep breath and not to look into the depths, the abysses were often very impressive. From now on we tried to avoid the villages and small towns somehow, so that we did not attract too much attention of the population; we almost felt as if we were on the run.
The next autonomous regions had not yet imposed any major restrictions on public life, so we were able to move around a bit more normally again, without a guilty conscience, shopping for food or visiting anything. Despite this renewed “freedom”, we kept retreating and made our way through fields and forests towards the south. In the region of Murcia it should be warmer and sunnier.
So we travelled on over countless mountain ranges, through forests and wide fields. On the one hand, we made a virtue out of the pressure of the pandemic and tried to drive in a straight line from north to south, if possible; “off-roading” was not prohibited in any case. Actually, you are allowed to drive anywhere where there is a way. Unfortunately, large private landowners, for their part, do not always tolerate driving on their property, which repeatedly forced us to turn around and make major detours before we reached closed roads. Our second virtue was the camp every evening somewhere out in the solitude, where we could enjoy the absolute silence with wonderful and starry nights; despite Corona, our nights were always in a dream place in the middle of nature.
In the meantime we reached the region of Murcia with its high mountain ranges and absolute scenic highlights. Above, in the mountains a wild landscape, below in the valley a lot of and intensive agriculture. We left the bigger cities to the left again and headed directly towards the sea. It was more coincidence than planning that we reached the province of Almería (region of Andalusia) the same day and set up an open camping site for the weekend.
On the following day, due to several Catholic holidays and a further increase in the number of Corona cases in Spain, the regions and provinces were mutually closed off and only urgent trips were allowed. Tourist activities are not an urgent reason and are also strongly restricted!
Whew, we were lucky to reach the province of Almería in time, where for the time being there were no additional restrictions in the province and we did not have to wait in any place for the next time!
It was no longer possible to continue our journey in a westerly direction. It was allowed to pass through the areas, but the destination had to be in an area without additional corona restrictions. But the list grew longer every day and with the measures followed the closure of the tourist facilities.
Well, winter can still be a long time coming!
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