Day 13: Mojacar to Agua Amarga - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 19, 2024

Day 13: Mojacar to Agua Amarga

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Sunrise at the Mediterranean started slowly beyond our patio, and progressed quickly to flaming glory.

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Unfortunately there was no flaming glory at the breakfast that soon followed. The restaurant continued as the Achilles heel of this otherwise great hotel. They were featuring a lot of measures to control costs, like many stale and packaged goods, and including portion controlled cheese and ham tightly plastic wrapped in little dishes. You had to go to the bar and specifically order many key pieces, like eggs or coffee. And they had giant signs about don't take away any picnic type items. But it all surely beat Maxcaly from yesterday, and at a lower price.

We could have used extra breakfast power, because when we came to load the bikes we found Dodie's rear tire completely flat. When we went to the storage locker in Valencia we had found the tire like this, but simply pumped it up, and that lasted, until now.  It was tempting to just pump again, but the thought of the thing going flat out on the road stirred us to a more proactive approach. The general problem is that the bike has internal rear  gears, and it is a real bug to remove the rear wheel, with its associated gear cable. It is also pretty much needed to flip the bike to get to the wheel, and that requires shifting the GPS mount and other stuff on the bar. We have two things we can do before taking the extreme step of pulling the wheel. Our first thing to try is to pull out as much of the tube as possible, and then to look for the leak so it can be patched right there. The second thing is a special tube that is split and sealed in the middle, that can be installed without removing the wheel. But this requires cutting out the old tube with a scissors - a traumatic event.

The thing about just finding the leak in place is that a teeny leak is anyway hard to spot. Without all the tube being easily accessible, it can be impossible. Our secret leak detector is Dodie's delicate cheek, but you have to get the cheek near to the problem!

This time though we had a tool more effective than Dodie's cheek. Here it is:

Yes, unlimited water!
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We swiped a bucket from a cleaning closet, and with some effort passed the tube through. It took a while, but we found the leak!

It was better to work by the pool than out on the highway!
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The patient is down, but will soon be back on its wheels!
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We ran past a "sugar cube" development almost as soon as we had set off. Even if you think high density is ecologically sound, how do you even get in and out to these units? I guess it is actually better than a rectangular high rise apartment block.

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The symbol below  is known as the "Indalo". It is a pictograph from 2500 BC, found in a cave in Almeria. It is taken to be something like the image of a man with a rainbow over his head, and is used as a good luck charm. The name Indalo comes from Saint Indaletius, the patron saint of Almeria.

The Indalo, at the boundary of Mojacar.
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The original Indalo
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We usually do not peek ahead at what hills might be coming on any given day. But this time I did ask RWGPS, and I got the impression that though there was a bit of a hill, the day's ride would be very manageable.  I was thinking this as we cruised along, looking at the pleasant bay, and flat well groomed bike path.

Pleasant bay
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Karen PoretLet’s go bowling 🎳
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1 month ago
Flat bike path
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Before long, though, we found our road climbing. Like curving away, and climbing!

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As usual in these bare mountains, there were spectacular rock formations to appreciate, like this multi-coloured face.

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Here is Dodie appreciating the rock face! Also about here, as I lagged behind having taken a photo, Dodie had two goat like creatures that we take to be Ibex, cross the road in front of her. Looking back, she then saw the two to be part of a troupe, that had climbed a slope by the road. By the time I arrived with the camera, they had left.
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The road snakes up and away.
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I find the down parts scarier than the up. But here is Dodie bravely taking it on.
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It's when we come to the various "natural parks" that we can anticipate "trouble", with the road climbing and descending.
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Here is part of the descent.
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I hate heights!
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Way down below I noticed a runner heading up. I was amazed to think he would try it. In fact, he soon turned around. In the shot, a cyclist that had passed us on the way down happened to arrive by the runner.
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We came from up there!
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At last, the final bit before hitting the beach.
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Now following along the beach, we came to a giant structure, like the sugar cube developments, where something was clearly amiss. The place was huge, but derelict. The GPS identified it as a hotel - Hotel Arzata, but it was surrounded by fencing, and the windows had no glass. We resolved to look up its story later, and it's a doozy. You can read about it, at least up to 2016, here.

Basically, we were here in a protected eco-zone, and the hotel had somehow received initial approval to be built, but too close to the pristine beach. Once 90% complete, legal battles began, with Greenpeace involved. In 2007, 30 eco-warriors scaled the building and wrote "Illegal Hotel" on it in big black letters.

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A lone fisherman stares at the sea.
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Here at Carboneras we somehow missed finding the three large grocery stores, but we did find something far more exciting.

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The central square of Carboneras, with the city hall, here.
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and a fort, though we missed getting the story on it.
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But just opposite was a statue of "Lawrence of Arabia" in honour of the movie about the famous historical figure.  Although shot primarily in Jordan and Syria, there was also filming near here, and the production made a big impression on the town.

If you have the right computer or screen, this very interesting sign is legible. It tells some of the story of the film production.
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Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif - I loved their performances, though i primarily think of Omar Sharif as Dr. Zhivago. Omar Sharif returned here in 2012 for the 50th anniversary of the film. Sharif died in 2015 at the age of 83. Peter O'Toole died in 2013.
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Look at this lovely park, just below the central square.
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We passed through the very industrial port of Carboneras, where I think cement was also being produced and exported. We climbed a bit more, before  descending to one of those sugar cube villages. 

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The village turned out in fact to be our destination, of Agua Amarga. Scott Anderson in his 2019 blog identifies this as meaning "bitter water".  The town, he explains, was the terminus of a train line from a mine. But it is not clear if there is a link to the water.

Approaching Agua Amarga.
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When we drew abreast of our hotel, the Sendero, we spied a fish  restaurant across the street. This seemed like a good time to try some fish, and the menu had lots of exotic (to me) and pellagic sounding offerings, like "Sea Bream". Unfortunately the place would close at 3, leaving us more with something like potato chips, from the also nearby convenience store.

The Sendero, while not offering a sea view like yesterday's Continental, has something else we really appreciate: a view of our bikes in an enclosed patio, right by our sliding door. Having the bikes able to roll right in to there means that we mainly do not have to unload them, and we can feel secure every time we look out to them.

Also, unlike the chintzy Continental, the Sendero has unlimited free coffee, cookies, and fruit on offer, and it's a large open room of pristine cleanliness.

Reading Scott's journal, now, we see that tomorrow is going to be a bit of a slog. Scott and Rachael, being them, characterized it as a pleasant ride on uncrowded roads. But they can't fool us, 'cause we saw their pictures!

We like this view.
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Karen PoretClose the refrigerator door, please!;)
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretWhy bother, it's not even plugged in.
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1 month ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWhy ? Are you not allowed to use it, or did someone already clear out all of the drinks, candies, snacks, etc..😬
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretOf course we can use it, just need to plug it in. Commonly the fridge is left unplugged in hotels so as not to use (waste) electricity when no guests are present.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonHey, I think we’re in the same room!
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3 weeks ago

Today's ride: 31 km (19 miles)
Total: 553 km (343 miles)

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Scott AndersonWe’re following in your footsteps. The same lodgings two nights in a row!
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonOh, the value of a blog! The places and the story seem so far and long ago now.
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3 weeks ago