Up to the Mountains
So we eventually arrived in Bogarra at 8:00pm. To put this place into context it used to have a population of around 5,000; but according to Tibu it is now nearer 800, with the number of under 25’s being around 100. We are all classed as young here. We like this place. It is up in the Sierra de Alcaraz mountains and your ears do pop a lot on your way up. It’s nestled in a little valley around the river Bogarra (the river was actually called something else but they changed it. I have been told what the original name was, but I have forgotten. I forget a lot of things. Rachel is trying to teach me a Spanish word a day, which is fine, but each day I forget the previous day’s word. Today’s word is “eh?” Which is Spanish for “what?”). I think when they began building this village there was an argument between the architects and the farmers. The farmers wanted the flat land for farming, leaving the architects to build on the hillside. And they have. The whole village clings to the side of the mountain like a reality star clinging to their dignity. There are lot of ups, but equally a lot of downs. This place was built years before the word accessibility was invented. Stannah stairlifts could make a fortune here.
We arrived and Tibu’s mum came down the steps to meet us. (For the sake of this blog we will refer to her as Abuela (grandma). She is actually called Delores, but we don’t call her that. Ever. His dad is called Federico, but I just know him as Abuelo (grandpa). Fill it in on the family tree.) I say she came down the steps, these are serious steps. Their house is built on a hill (obviously) and the front doors are on the ground, 2nd and 3rd floors (I would draw you a plan, but I haven’t fully worked it out myself). After a warm greeting (for Tibu) we unpacked the Tetris mobile and began carrying our cases up the 1st flight of steps. These steps have become my nemesis and my greatest joy. Going up, they inflict pain like someone is sticking a spear into my knees…but coming down, I’m Fred Astaire. They are so steep the easiest way to get down them is to go down sideways, so, inevitably, jazz hands follow. Every time I descend them I either pretend I have a top hat and a cane, or go a bit bow legged like I have rickets and do a rendition of “Any Old Iron”.
Abuela doesn’t seem to have the same problem. She is 85, about 4 feet tall and seems to thunder up and down these steps like a youth. Once we got to the front door (on the 2nd floor) we took our cases up to the top floor. When we stuck them on the scales at Liverpool, they all definitely weighed less than 20Kg. I think they may have put a few pounds on since then. Nikki, Karen and I (note the correct use of I. This was after last night’s abuse from my fellow travellers regarding my use of I and myself. Rules were made to be broken and I will break them myself) are staying on the top floor, or the penthouse as we like to call it. We are also sharing it with some chickens; but we know that there will be at least one less by the weekend. The house is extraordinary. Imagine your average 17 room house, vertically over 4 floors with the yard at the top and the bathroom at the bottom and you start to get an idea. Saying that, we do have a bathroom in the Penthouse (which we share with the chickens). There had been a problem with the plumbing though and the toilet didn’t flush (well not the way it was meant to flush. Stick your hand in the cistern and pull a lever and it sort of works). Abuela had been onto the plumber but he hadn’t turned up (plumbers appear to be the same the world over).
By the time we had settled in and unpacked it was gone 9, and a bit like the night before, we were starving (the difference being that Tibu found his family home on the first attempt, so that had saved us a bit of time). To be honest we had eaten very, very well at lunch time so we headed to a bar and had tapas and watched the football (I say “we” and “watched”; Nik and Tibu watched the game, Rachel and Karen watched the locals, I wrote day 1’s blog). Much Tapas and beer was consumed; a team won the football which seemed to be the right team, so we returned to Abuela’s happy, if a bit desperate for the toilet. Now beer is a wonderful thing. It seems to give you the power to tackle jobs that you never thought you could do before. After climbing the steps I decided that if Mario could fix a cistern I could (even though I only have the moustache in Movember). I soon discovered that by carefully twiddling something on a ball cock and using the tap on the wall as a sort of throttle, I could actually flush the toilet and refill it. Unfortunately Karen and Nikki couldn’t do it, so I was the official toilet flusher for the floor (the chickens seemed to have no problems with it). Actually now I write this…perhaps they could actually do it and I was being taken for a mug. Doh! These women in my life. They get me every time!
We finished the day happy; we found our accommodation on the first attempt; a team had won a game of football; we could flush our toilet. What more can a man ask for in life.
Tomorrow; food, more food and even more food.