Jaen - Andalucia, Take One - CycleBlaze

October 5, 2004 to October 6, 2004

Jaen

We awoke this morning still holding out a bit of hope that we still might recover the missing pannier.  We talked ourselves into imagining that some honorable soul had found it and turned it in to the police - not the most likely scenario, but with so much at stake it was worth pursuing.  I forget how we had learned this, but we were aware now that we would need to get replacement passports from one of the U.S. Consulates - which at that time were only in Madrid and Barcelona.  So, obviously a trip ender - either one is too far away to get there and return somehow and then resume our interrupted tour.

An aside: I see that there is now also a U.S. Consulate in Seville, which reopened just last year.  So if you lose your passport in Spain, you’ve got more options now.

Alcala la Real is a small place - large enough for a local police station, but not for the Spanish equivalent of the highway patrol.  We stopped in at the police station first thing after leaving the hotel, but they were unable to help because they don’t have jurisdiction.  They informed us that we needed to visit a Civil Guard station, and said there was one in Jaen, our planned destination for the day.

Oddly enough, I remember the ride to Jaen as one of the most scenic of the entire tour.  The land between Alcala and Jaen is a rugged upland, with gorgeous olive draped hills separated by dramatic gorges.  The province of Jaen is practically blanketed wall to wall with olives, and is the most important olive growing region of Spain - it produces more olives than all of Italy.

For the first half of the ride we slowly approached the small town of Fuensanta de Martos by following the crest of a ridge that arced past a conical hill that mesmerized me as we slowly approached and skirted it.  Some of the prettiest riding I remember experiencing anywhere.

Today’s follows the road angling down and to the left, passing through Fuensanta de Martos, and then crossing the high ridge on the right before dropping to Jaen.
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I became fixated on that conical hill in the middle rising above Fuensanta, watching its colors and the lines of its olive groves slowly shift for the next hour or so as we gradually skirted it.
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The Arroyo de la Umbria. We’d have had an easier day of it if our road went through it, but instead we have a 2,000’ climb over the ridge to the north before dropping back again to Jaen.
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Looking north across Jaen as we drop into it from the highlands to the south.
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We had long been anticipating our stay in Jaen, at the parador (a deluxe state-run Spanish hotel, usually in a significant historical building).  We had never stayed in a parador before, and it was a splurge for us - but for reasons I don’t recall now we decided to try one out.  The Jaen parador is a conversion of Santa Catalina castle, a fortress with moorish origins dating back to the thirteenth century.  

Ancient fortresses of course are invariably built on the high ground, and this one was no exception.  We should have expected this of course, but still it was an unwanted challenge to find a steep six hundred foot climb at the close of a long day.  It is a beautiful place alright, and the views from the top Santa Catalina Hill are impressive; but I’m not honestly sure I’d do this again.   It’s pretty remote, and we didn’t see any of the historical city in our stay here.  We might have gotten a better look if we’d stayed below.

At the entrance to the Jaen Parador. I really love the Rodriguez I have now, but looking at this photo reminds me of how much I loved my Cannondale before it.
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This is a reenactment of our arrival, from the morning we departed. We were too hot and tired when we first arrived to care about staging a photo, but we made up for it on the way out when it was cool and foggy. I must have really wanted this photo to bothered coasting down and then biking back up again for it. Pretty great shot though, and well worth it - right?
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Jacquie GaudetAnd the red jacket makes a nice splash of colour. I suspect you weren't wearing it on arrival...
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3 years ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetActually, that’s my old Euskatel-Euskadi jersey, that I got in Segovia on our first trip to Spain in 1996. By the time I finally retired it it was completely washed out, but back then it was still bright.
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3 years ago
In the Jaen parador
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No doubt about it - the views were definitely spectacular.
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I think we’re looking here across the northwestern suburbs of Jaen.
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The view west across Jaen, and its enormous cathedral.
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We stayed in Jaen two nights, but we didn’t really see any of the city. Most of the layover day was devoted to following up on the lost pannier.  The plan was pretty simple - we’d drop down to the city and go to the civil guard station to see if it had been turned in, and then proceed based on the outcome.  Without a good map of the city and without a GPS though, it was no easy matter finding the station.  It’s a large city, the station was on a small street, and we gradually zeroed in on it by asking strangers for directions in our almost nonexistent Spanish.  It took a long time.

When we finally found it no one there spoke English, so it took a while to explain why we were there; and it took a while longer to understand that we’d been directed to the wrong station.  We received a different address and were sent off onto the hunt again.  As I remember it now, we took the better part of the morning just finding the damn place.

When we finally arrived at the correct station, no one there spoke English either.  (Actually, thinking back now, I’m pretty sure we took a hand-written note of explanation that someone at the parador helped us compose.  It’s a shame I didn’t keep it as a souvenir.)  Eventually they brought in an officer with minimal English skills, and we made slow progress.  No, nothing had been turned in.  We completed a report of the incident and were given a copy of it to take to the U.S. consulate as documentation when applying for a replacement.  

Oh.  And thinking back again now, we needed the documentation from the police so that we could show it at our hotels in place of our passport.  

So, that was it.  No passports, no hope of finding them, no more tour.  We’re going to Madrid.

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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 4,700’; for the tour: 608 miles, 48,500’

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