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The Journey Back to Calatayud – Day 24

20 November 2009 No Comment

Wednesday 5th August 2009 – Spain

I’ve been thinking a lot the past couple of days about cutting the trip short and coming home. It hasn’t gone as I had expected it to, and the thought of having to wait any longer for my card is beginning to cast a shadow over the experience. I know it isn’t a possibility at the moment as I need to be here for when the card arrives, but reassuring texts from the family have made me realise that this is just a blip, however big or small. This is a story I can tell when I return to England.

Olympic StadiumAs I promised myself, I began the day on a trip to the busy city in my car. I wanted at least to say I have been there. My first stop was the Olympic Stadium. If I’m being honest, I thought I was on my way to the Camp Nou, Barcelona’s football ground. I programmed in the stadium on my sat nav and set off, only to be a little underwhelmed when I arrived outside, not overly impressed, and somewhat surprised at how much smaller it was in real life. It took a while to dawn on me, but I was happy to see the Olympic Stadium. It was a bonus I guess.

Outside the grounds I met a lady who was just wandering through. She caught my eye as she had spent the last few minutes standing in one spot, staring at me. I thought the polite thing to do was to say hello, but this proved to be a mistake. She was a mix of half Spanish, half Japanese, and was nice enough. She started talking to me like we were old friends, which made me feel a little uncomfortable. Her questions, although fairly harmless, were asked in a strange manner, and I wasn’t sure if there was something amiss, but I answered in a friendly way. It turns out that she was very hard to get rid of, and any attempt to end the conversation, or to move away, lead to increased attention on her part, and a more desperate approach to her questioning. I almost had to run away in the end, fumbling my keys as I tried to unlock my car door. There was no need for panic, though. She just walked away, turning briefly to watch me drive off. In amongst the awkwardness of it all, I had come away with the directions to the Camp Nou, so it was a positive encounter.

I headed for the Stadium, and this time found it. It was very busy all around, and I couldn’t find anywhere at all to park. All the roads were lined with parked cars. I drove around the stadium, noticing the entrance to an underground car park that seemed to be filling quite rapidly, and wanted to park there. Unfortunately, having no money to spare meant this wasn’t an option I could take. I could only admire through the windows of my car as I negotiated the manic roads, and admire I did, although its not a patch on Old Trafford (Manchester United’s football ground) 🙂

I was glad to be leaving the busy city in the end, as I always seem to be. It takes a lot of energy out of me driving in theses cities. It would be another 4 hours before arriving back at Calatayud, and the drive back didn’t have the same impact as when I first travelled these roads. I think the thought of being back in a place so far from Barcelona, in every sense of the word, was enough to put a dampener on things, and for this reason the trip seemed a lot longer than it was.

I almost made it back to the campsite, but for the warning light on the dashboard of the car. I needed fuel and I needed it now. I had a can of fuel in the car, but it was for emergencies only, although this was fast becoming an emergency. I turned off just before Calatayud to top up only 5 Euro of fuel, this being all I could spare. While on this mini detour, I spotted a sign for another campsite nearby. I thought it was worth a look, and nearly turned back as it was a fair distance down some country roads, off the beaten track. The big campsite sign in the near distance shrugged off these thoughts. To my delight the campsite was much better, even from first impressions, and was the same price as the other, so I had no other thought but to pay for a night here instead, going back to the other site on Friday to collect my card.

Unfortunately, I still had to go back into Calatayud to get some food and water with 3 Euro that I had in my wallet. All the other money went on the cost of the campsite. Back in this new, much better place, I tried the swimming pool, which was lovely. I also tried the facilities which were ample, clean and well maintained. I wished I had found this place a few days ago.

In the evening I felt some spots of rain, but wasn’t enough to be a problem. It stopped relatively quickly, but the clouds came over and filled the sky. It was still very warm as I sat with one eye on the sky above, the other was watching the ants charging around the floor beneath my feet, collecting all the crumbs from an afternoon snack. I sat pondering, and strange thoughts began to enter my head. I wondered about the most obscure place that a raindrop has ever landed. Maybe the blow hole of a whale as it came up for air, maybe a crack in the ground that took the drop deep into the earth. I also wondered how a Queen Bee or ant becomes a Queen in the first place. Is there an application process or are they just born Queens. I’m sure there is a simple, educated answer, but I don’t know what it is.

During my wonderment I failed to notice the rain that had begun again, this time with a little more authority. It seemed a good idea to batten down the hatches and brace myself. I got in the car and waited, hoping the car would get a much needed clean. The chunky rain drops were enough to clean the windows of the car, but the rest of the car was still very mucky. I was treated to a nice thunder and lightning display while I watched from the safety of the car. The rain ceased and I was able to re-emerge from the car and set about making my makeshift evening meal. The meal consisted of mash (from a packet), tuna and bread. It was foul really, and very tasteless, but at least it was a meal. The melted chocolate bar and bruised apple helped balance it out a little.

While making my gourmet meal, I spilt some of the oil from the tin of tuna onto the floor, and was impressed at how quickly the ants had descended upon the wet patch on the dry earth beneath the campsite shelter I was under. Within minutes the ants had established a path from nest to wet patch, and were busily working the ground at the site. I was fascinated, and spent much of the evening just watching them. The sound of the high speed trains passing by the campsite stole my attention from time to time, but I was quickly drawn back to the ants, who by now had established a nest site at the place I spilt the oil.

Anyway, enough about the ants I hear you say. Ants and trains, 2 very exciting things to be writing about I’m sure you’ll agree. Incidentally, I spent a while watching the bats dance around the trees this evening also. I’m turning into David Attenborough.

Click here to view more pictures from today, and throughout my trip around Spain


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