Today was the day I got to do a test run to see if the stressed bone in my foot had healed and… I ran! This is a big deal because I’m not happy when I can’t run and it’s been five weeks, so today was an important day!
We got off to a late start, due I think to the one hour time difference. It was a bit like adjusting to daylight saving, so when I got up at my usual 6.00, it was actually 7.00, so we were a bit behind the eight ball. Our youthful neighbours proved me wrong and gave us a quiet night, although I didn’t sleep because I was so cold. I don’t know why I’ve been so cold the last couple of nights, but I ended up sleeping in my puffer jacket and that was better. We had breakfast and I shivered to a ridiculous extent. I had socks and sneakers on and my feet felt like frozen blocks of ice and I sat there shaking and shivering over my toast and strawberries.
We got on the road about 10.20 and headed for our next campsite just short of the city of Huelva. About 8km into the ride, we passed Islantilla, which looked like a coastal suburb, so we pedalled in to take a look. It had a nice esplanade alongside the water, lots of people and families out walking and fishermen sitting and mending their nets. It was a lovely spot.
So I stood there and said to Steve, “I think I’m going to go for a run.” It seemed as good a place as any to give things a test. So I took off my jacket and helmet and off I went. Yay! The foot felt OK and I did a nice little 2km up the esplanade. It was so good to be running again! Now I just have to remember to take things easy and not do too much too soon.
Off we went again and even though we were riding along a fairly main road, the traffic was quiet and it was a nice ride. We eventually pulled into the little town of Cartaya to stop for lunch. We pedalled up the cobbled streets and stopped at the base of the town’s castle and had a bite to eat. I wasn’t cold anymore! It’s been a beautiful day, warm and sunny and a bright, clear blue sky.
One thing I’ve noticed here is the dogs are smaller and friendlier! When we were in Islantilla, Steve went into a supermarket to get himself something for lunch and I waited outside. Families and couples walked by with their Spaniels, Poodles and Maltese and Silky Terriers. The dogs all look very much a member of families, very groomed and stylish and definitely not just an animal that happens to be owned by a person. Although, we did come across one less than friendly dog today. As we were riding down the street in Cartaya after stopping for lunch, a little brown haze charged at Steve with a frantic yap-yap-yapping. A woman raced after it and apologised to Steve and then gave that furry little fiend a stiff talking too and a sharp tap on the nose. By the expression on the dog’s face, it had received such a reprimand on previous occasions! It was ready for it! Apart from that little bloke though, the dogs have been very happy, friendly and quite stylish.
We had yet another accommodation let down today. We got to the place where our campsite was located and Steve consulted the map and found it was only 200m away, but couldn’t figure out how to get to it. It was set back off a roundabout in some trees and there didn’t seem to be any road that actually led to it. It was like that situation when you’re driving in a new city and you see the hotel or road you need to get to over there, but can’t get to it and every road you take seems to take you further away. It’s there, right there, you can see it, but can’t find the darn lane or street to get there! It was like that. So we headed in the general direction and then decided we’d just push the bikes through the scrub if we needed to. So we set off and were about to do just that because we could see the place right there in the trees, but…it was closed…non-operational…not open to visitors…not an option for our tent tonight. Darn! I blame the lousy wifi at the park we were in last night, because we couldn’t do our usual research about the place and find out what it was like. Had we been able to, we probably would have discovered that it was not an option. So anyway, off we went and headed further down the road into the city of Huelva.
We rode in along an absolutely fantastic bike path. It ran alongside the main road, but ran through trees and then through wetlands and was brilliantly set up for recreational cyclists. There were picnic tables and bike stands in places along the path and it was a super place to ride. Lots of mountain bikers were passing us and we saw a few families out riding. One couple with their two little children stopped and talked to Steve. After an exchange of Steve’s limited Spanish and their limited English, it turned out they were asking him to take their photo for them, which he did. Off we then pedalled for the final push into Huelva with a great ride along that terrific bike path.
There were no other campsites around, so we were going to have to find a hotel. How to do that though? Luckily, as we rode into the city, we saw a McDonalds. I stopped in a screech of tyres and whiplash of panniers and spun around to Steve, “Does McDonalds have wifi?”
“That’s just what I was thinking,” replied Steve.
So we headed for McDonalds and pulled up outside to discreetly use their free wifi. We found a reasonably priced hotel that was close by, fed the address into the GPS and off we went through the Sunday city streets. We arrived and the very nice man at reception immediately found a spot for the bikes in the hotel garage, we checked in and we had our bed for the night.
As we rode into Huelva the electronic thermometer by the side of the road said it was 28C and then another we passed said it was 32C. It was a beautiful day and I definitely wasn’t cold anymore! We went for a nice roam through the streets and just wandered around taking things in. It was really nice, just people watching. As we were walking along a street we heard music playing and thought, surely we don’t have another welcoming party! No, it was some sort of event being marked. Men were standing in the crowd with hessian scarf like coverings on their heads and a group of men were standing under a large platform which held blocks of concrete, and carrying it down the street. The men carrying the large wooden platform, were also wearing the hessian scarves and were moving their feet very slowly, almost just rocking their feet back and forth and slowly and earnestly, carrying this large, rectangular wooden frame on their heads. We didn’t know if it was something to do with Easter, or something to mark a particular occasion in the city or some other event. It was quite a sombre looking procession, so it was a serious recognition of something. It was one of those special little things that you hope to see when you’re travelling, something very different and unique to a place.
Then we got back to our room and, since we were paying for a hotel, we proceeded to salvage the budget by cooking like campers and firing up the little Trangia on the tiny hotel balcony in the space beside the air conditioning unit. We are resourceful!
So on this day, International Women’s Day, this little short, middle-aged vegan woman from Tasmania, flew the flag for us gals and rode 52km up some hills, in some heat, paused for a little 2km run and so far, is managing to keep up with the Big Fella! I think I might go and mark the day with a nice cup of tea!