Day 14: Agua Amarga to San Jose - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 20, 2024

Day 14: Agua Amarga to San Jose

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Staying at the Hotel Senderos gave us a taste of what living in one of the sugar cube dwellings would be like. It was not only white outside but inside as well, and immaculately clean. If we would clean our place daily for a month it would not be that clean. Dodie says that is partly due to building materials - like a lot of tile, and also to a lack of dust gathering clutter. In any event, it felt like a "purifying" experience.

At Hotel Senderos - the most cluttered space they had.
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When we set off, we had a clear blue sky and a wide open landscape. It was exhilarating to ride through. I said to Dodie that it felt like we had passed from Arizona to Montana, but really this is its own place, and not everything has to also exist in the U.S.!

OK, it's not Montana.
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As we cycled, we could smell the herbs at the roadside. I stopped and plucked some thyme, and it was so strong! I felt we should get out a lamb and roast it on the spot!

A landscape covered with herbs.
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We spotted this "new to us" bird almost right away.

24145 Black Redstart
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Scott AndersonBeautiful shot.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonUsed your tips. High resolution shot from far away but then at the hotel we zoomed in and cropped. Thanks again for all your help.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI wondered. You really will get a better result, I think. I’m surprised that the cropped ones have smaller dimensions though, which isn’t the case with mine. Must be an outcome of the technology you’re working with? I’m just doing mine on the iPad.
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1 month ago

And also some cattle egrets.

Cattle Egret
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And now that we know what they are, we are seeing Crested Larks everywhere.

Crested Lark
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Here in the early going, the road seemed to rise and fall only gently, and there was little or not traffic. That made it a super pleasant riding experience. We had anticipated some steep climbing in headlands, but it seems the route we chose avoided all of that.
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We passed through lots more greenhouse development, and peeking inside saw not only tomatoes but also squash, mostly zuchinni. It all looked to be doing very well in there, but it was frustrating not be able to see what was going on. The greenhouses are totally sealed on all sides.

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Scott has written that not only do greenhouses here supply much of the produce for Europe, but the reflectivity of so much white roofing has a cooling effect on the entire region.
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Here is a picturesque windmill, with olive trees in the foreground.
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It struck me that it is so dry here that there are literally almost no trees. The exception is olives, and perhaps almonds, that are found in plantations. Here below are olives that were succeeding in covering a hillside.

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We ran into not Dodie's Ibex, but real goats, in a yard.  The goats came over to see us, perhaps to check if we had any "real" food. In their yard they had an unlimited supply of tomatoes and zuchinni, but we bet they would have traded for some hay.

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Tomatoes anyone?
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Or zuchinni?
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Our road became a little busier, and the shoulder not so great, but the ride was still good.  We passed several signs for rural accommodation, and one piqued our interest. We are always interested in the horrible possibility that our destination will be atop a mountain!

Not a bad ride.
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Rural accommodation.
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But we hope it is not this place!
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We got to San Jose with little fuss, though we do see that we will have a bit of a climb tomorrow to leave the town and got to Almeria. We stopped at a little grocery for some supplies, since our place for tonight is an apartment with no restaurant or grocery nearby. Then we carried on through downtown San Jose, thinking of the Andersons, who had been here in 2019, and trying to conjure up the image of them riding up and down on these same streets.

Downtown San Jose
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Karen PoretDefinitely NOT “downtown San Jose”, in CA…;)
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1 month ago

Our place was slightly out of town, so we climbed through the white sugar cube landscape.

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This sugar cube is our place!

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The building is set into the hillside, so reception was in fact at the fourth floor, but accessible from the street. We were glad to find that one of the reception staff was from Paris, so we could easily discuss where to put the bikes. This turned out to be in the garage, which is also at street level, but four floors down. 

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Our apartment is two floors down - down there.
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The apartment itself was huge, with kitchen, living room, dining room, and a balcony overlooking the sea. I like those sea facing sliding door balconies, because the doors not only afford a good view but also allow any amount of sea breeze to be admitted as desired.

The balcony.
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This town of San Jose, where we are, is in the middle of a natural park -Cabo de Gata-Nijar.  It's a famous thing, and the lady at reception provided us not only with a map, but also a book about the park, and some editions of a magazine devoted to it.  I think we mercifully missed it, but he mountains here are sharp volcanic peaks, and the highest, El Fraile, plunges to the sea, with high cliffs and gullies, with coves and white sand beaches. The map also prominently shows a lagoon up ahead that could have some nice birds. It would be a bit hard to reach, so we are still thinking about it.

We are at San Jose, over on the upper right.
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Below we see the whole map, and the magazines about the park. It is the largest protected coastal area in Andalusia, has UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation, and is the only official "hot desert climate" in continental Europe.

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One of the magazines has an article about that dead hotel at Algarrobico beach. We can see now why Greenpeace et al got so hot under the collar about it, given the location in the middle of this special park.  Strangely, we read that due to the special nature of the clay soil here, the park was also being considered as a spot to store nuclear waste.  Say what? No hotel, but nuclear waste?

We had noticed the strange looking soil and took this snapshot, but did not think about it until reading the nuclear waste thing.
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Today's ride: 41 km (25 miles)
Total: 594 km (369 miles)

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Scott AndersonEnjoy San Jose! The image we’ve carried of the town though is not of riding through its streets, but of trying to get across the street to our hotel when there was a river running through it: https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/iberia2019/in-san-jose-typhoon/
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonWe read your post. Wow, that was just a crazy storm.
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1 month ago