Archive for April 2nd, 2010

El Puerto de Santa Maria to Tarifa (71 miles, 6 hours and 16 minutes moving)

I got up at 8:30 a.m., showered, packed up camp, and set my GPS to direct me to “The Phone House” in El Puerto de Santa Maria.  When I reached the “centro”, the streets were packed with people, and I found myself in the midst of a parade, complete with shrouded and hooded “Ku Klux Klan”-costumed people. To my dismay, it must be Good Friday, which I will forever have to refer to as “Bad Friday”.  Most of the stores and supermarkets in town were closed, including the cell phone store. I had to bike out of town, stopping at a gas station to pick up some more junk food since my food supplies had been completely exhausted the previous day.  I was kicking myself for not finding out exactly when Easter was and making plans accordingly in the food and internet-access areas.  I could have purchased a SIM for my phone at a kiosk in the Seville train station, but I figured the “Phone House” people would be more knowledgeable about the available pre-paid wireless internet plans available, and figured I could wait another day at the latest.  But now I was completely out of luck, not having been able to let my family know that I had made it safely into Spain.  The only thing I could do was hope that the campsite in Tarifa would have internet like their website had said.

It was a long day of biking.  Finally I passed through a town with an open supermarket!  I locked up my bike outside in the shade and headed in to buy two large rolls of bread, three bananas, two apples, two cheese wheels and some slices of Gouda, four yogurts, and a can of Pepsi!  My whole stash should last me at least two to three meals and cost just under 10 euros, and I was happy that I had finally gotten a good break for the day.  I packed my purchases on the bike and downed the Pepsi and two yogurts, but had to hit the road because I had a lot more miles to cover today.

At the 34 mile point, there was a long and hard climb up to the town of Vejer de la Frontera. The view of the Spanish plains from the top was worth it, and the town itself looked like a great little place for a vacation, with lots of hotels, restaurants, and a beautiful fountain in the center of town.  One woman approached me and asked where I was from and if she could take a photo of me.  She was curious about the solar panel I had strapped over my rear panniers, and was the second person today to ask about it.  After she took my photo, I gave her my camera, and her friends crowded around to join me in the photo!

New Friends...
New Friends…

Leaving town, there was a descent that was at least twice as steep as the ascent, with a portion that was a 10% grade. I was worried that I was going to burn off all of my brake pads, and I was back at the bottom in a few minutes when the ascent had taken me 35 minutes. How quickly my altitude gain had been erased, with only my mental photos and the few actual photos I had taken on my camera to remember it by.

Around 3-4 p.m. I pulled off the road into the shade of an abandoned gas station and had half of one of the huge rolls with some slices of Gouda, and it was just that- “Gouda!” Delicioso. No matter how many calories I took in today, they probably wouldn’t be enough. At the 50 mile point my pace slowed a bit as I had to turn into a headwind and started to reach some long slow climbs.  The scenery was filled with rich greens underneath a blue, cloudless sky, and there was a valley that was absolutely filled to the brim with spinning windmills.  The two-lane road that I was traveling had a nice shoulder for me to ride on, but the last twenty miles to the campsite was tough.  Finally I came over  the last ridge and could see the ocean and Africa in front of me!  When I checked into the campsite, I found out that it would cost me 15 euros for the night, the most expensive camping fee that I’ve paid yet, and I think it was inflated because of the holiday.  I found the campsite’s open wireless signal with my iPhone and was excited to be able to finally send word home of my safety, but no connection to the internet could be established.  The woman at the front desk told me that their wireless internet wasn’t working because they had been fixing their phone line.  Ugh. What a perfect end to “Bad Friday”.