Day 11: Puerto de Mazarron to Aguilas - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 17, 2024

Day 11: Puerto de Mazarron to Aguilas

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It's not that we have a preconception about the landscapes we will be passing through on this coast, but every day the spectacular things we see are somehow surprising. That was certainly the case today, as we were among bare mountains and by the blue Mediterranean.

A white village against a bare mountain.
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The bare mountains readily reveal their geology, with fantastic shapes and  colours. Here below is an eroded cliff that is a local landmark.

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There is an arch beside the pillar to the right.
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We passed some spectacular seaside houses, and travelled down a pleasant street. Ok, we can understand this kind of place.

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But almost instantly the track took us into what was to be a really spectacular, slightly scary, remote Mediterranean coastal scene. The first sign that this was going to be remote was a sign declaring the beaches along here as designated for nudists.  Well, at about 10 degrees C just then, there did not seem to be much chance of running into anybody. Worth looking, though.

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The next thing was that our track indicated we should descend a small cliff to carry on. The shot below is zoomed, but taken from atop the cliff. If you look carefully, you can see a white "X" on the side. I saw it, and declared that we were screwed. But Dodie descended, since "route barree" does not scare her!

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EV 8 would not want us to descend on a whim.
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Here you see Dodie going around the barrier. To be fair the sign is ambiguous, either saying the road is closed, period, or it is closed in rain or floods, due to risk of landslides. Anyway, it's not closed to us if there is a way around!
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Just checking, if this really was a Yellow Legged Gull.
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It turns out that we had indeed stumbled into a special place, the Sierra de la Moreras. It's a place of sheltered coves with beaches (watch for those nudists) and a lot of up and down on the dirt path.  If any cyclists reading this and following in our tracks want to avoid this, highway 332 does bypass it to the North.

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Follow us through this fantastic landscape in the next dozen photos. There is not much to say, except that we were experiencing awe through the combination of sea and desert land, with enough cliff like stuff to have to stay alert!

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Suzanne GibsonI hope you complied and took off your clothes!
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Suzanne GibsonOh, too chilly. Maybe later in the day?
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1 month ago
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Although we did encounter a couple of dog walkers or runners, we did feel as if we had stepped into a private and bizarre new world. That is, until we encountered all the RVs stacked up on the other side. There were in fact dozens of them. Almost all were from Germany, with one from Poland, and maybe one from Luxembourg.

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More and more campers.
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One of the campers was sort of unique, and I pulled out my camera to snap a shot of it. Just at that second I hit an extra rough spot in the road, and with only one hand on the bar, went flying. 

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Karen PoretPlus the cat door ?
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2 months ago
The rough spot in the road.
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The result.
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Laurie MarczakBusted! I was JUST joking with Dave that I was behind on the blog and needed to fast forward a few days to “check if my parents are still alive”.

Harumph. I guess you technically get a pass but stop flying over the handlebars already!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Laurie MarczakHmm, that's what Mom said.
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I did not mention it yesterday, but a hurricane like blast of wind threw me in the ditch then, so I am feeling a bit beat up from a second tumble. Below we see Dodie treating  the torn leg with healing water. Unfortunately I also ripped my cycling gloves, but I am glad my rain parka was untouched.

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We did have some luck just after that with spotting a couple of birds. The Crested Lark is one Dodie had been seeing, but now we got some kind of photo.

24139 Crested Lark
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House Sparrow
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Here is something else quite amazing to us, an entire hedge of Geranium.

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Bill ShaneyfeltMy mom grew potted geraniums. She would have loved this!
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A major feature of the next area we passed into was the number of greenhouses, and the way they looked. Huge amounts of ground were under cover, with dusty houses that you could not see into at all. They were made partly from cover cloth and partly poly, but the wind blown sand made it all opaque. We did eventually see that the crop was tomatoes, and when we did get a rare glimpse inside, the fruit did look amazingly good.

There were kms like this.
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In some cases there was just row cover, but mostly it was the greenhouses.
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Here is a peek underneath.
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Not sure why all these got piled up.
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The landscape is really covered with this.
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Here by the way is also an orchard. Contrary to what I had thought yesterday when I suggested these as plum trees, these are definitely almond. I was able to pick some of last year's nuts from these trees.
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Here is a sign describing the tomato farm we happen to be passing through. It says the area is 83 hectares (205 acres) under cover. Our interest in the sign was not just for this information, though. It seems that a colony of bees had set up shop in the actual wood of the sign. They were coming and going, and looked like this:

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Bill ShaneyfeltNice shot! Looks like buff tailed bumblebees

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombus_terrestris
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltHow fascinating. It all fits-European bumble bee, used as pollinators in tomato greenhouses, size is right, ......Thanks Bill.
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Bill ShaneyfeltThanks to a tiny amount of knowledge and lots of inaturalist.com and great pictures!
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Karen PoretBright eyed and bushy tailed..:)
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We were surprised to look down from the ridge we were traversing to see a corral apparently filled with sheep.

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Yes, definitely sheep!
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As we watched, the shepherd let them out of the pen, and with one dog, set off for somewhere.

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The animals followed him like ... sheep.
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Look, there they go!
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We were curious to see where they might be going.
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It seemed like it could be far.
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Surprisingly they came right up to where we were, by the greenhouses.
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And headed on between.
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They stopped traffic in both directions.
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Though this Dutch camper tried to sneak through.
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Karen PoretShare the road, please!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretSheep have the right of way.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI was actually trying to convey how the Dutch are notoriously strict about sharing the road.. mostly when on a bicycle.
Written words don’t always “say” what is intended.. oops
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We left the sheep and took another turn, though this ended up being the wrong way!
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Here are some other sheep, in a yard hewn from purple Kryptonite. Couldn't be good for them!
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Karen PoretThis could be rhyolite..igneous rock, reddish purple, hard to break.
Source? My husband, the geologist and confirmed by his old place of work : San Diego Natural History Museum..
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretNice to have a knowledgeable source. We really enjoyed the ride today through all the interesting rock formations.
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We now set off climbing again, through a spectacular, dry landscape. This time the sea was lacking, since we had climbed far above it.

Our road had no shoulder, but also no traffic.
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Somebody had managed to crash and die here. See the ripped license plate.
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Karen PoretWhat is the blue plaque on the rock referencing? I could not zoom in to read it clearly.
These shrines are so saddening.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretNot sure what this one says. Usually they have the name and dates, sometimes a quotation or short statement. Agree, these are so sad and so often the dates show a really young person. Youth seems to feel immortal, and they drive accordingly.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAgreed. No fear..
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Steve Miller/GrampiesSteve here. You got me. I considered getting off the bike to see and photo the plaque, but did not have the energy. I did figure I might regret it.
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This outcropping really was purple.
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High on a crag, this cactus looked like a bird. We will shoot anything that looks like a bird!
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Ok, here is a real bird:

24140 Red Legged Partridge
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The landforms really were striking.
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Here is a special one.
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High on a hill, someone had build this:
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Here is the ID for it. It was built by the Moors in the 12th century, but later served as a lookout against their possible return.
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We had departed from EV 8, which seemed to want to wiggle and climb in the Cabo Cope Regional Park. Now to get to our destination at Aguilas we had to hop onto a 100 kph autoroute, which we followed for about 10 km, straight to town. There was a good shoulder, but it required concentration to stay on the shoulder and not fall into the ditch that was to our right.  Signs said "emergency stopping only" , and Dodie declared an emergency when she thought she saw a hawk on a wire. Unfortunately this turned out to be a Wood Pigeon.

High speed, into Aguilas. We had run our batteries way down again in the hills, so we were glad this was all descending.
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Wood pigeon
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Over the kms to Aguilas, it was amazing how the land was covered in white greenhouse. I don't have a shot of this, because I really was concentrating on staying on target in the shoulder. But we did manage a photo of this unusual field of cactus:

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Aguilas , in the distance, looked like miniature white blocks.
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Made it!
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The town.
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I had been looking forward to our place outside of Aguilas, because it was listed as a triple room, with breakfast included,  and a restaurant on site. But "triple room" does not mean something big, only that there is an extra bed stuffed in, taking up space. The restaurant was closed, and the place was more like a BnB, with our key in a lock box. This we discovered only after checking recent emails, when we could find no way in. We phoned the contact number too, about the wifi code, and the breakfast, but could not hear or mostly understand the Spanish speaking lady. We got it mostly sorted out, but can not put "Maxcaly Playa" down as the joyous experience we were anticipating.  We also note that since we booked at 114 euros some time ago, the price has now become 42 euros. Now that we see the place, the 42 euro figure is definitely more the proper one, but we are stuck with the original deal.

Today's ride: 57 km (35 miles)
Total: 483 km (300 miles)

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