April Fool(s)!!!!

Day 262, Sevilla, 13.830 km

I don’t know if the tradition of April Fool’s is very popular in Spain, but I decided to make jokes to myself for a few days to mark the occasion. More than doubtful roads, highways, military zones, sand, forbidden bridges, mosquitoes, we had a good laugh with Jay and Bob, well mostly me, often forcefully, but always under the sun so it made the pill a little easier to swallow…

At the departure of Malaga, the GPS wants me to make a lot of detours until Tarifa (the southernmost point of Spain), but a more detailed study of the map shows me two things: 1) a national road that makes the trip in a more direct way. 2) a small green line that runs along this national road almost all the way, which represents the Transandalus (For the record, I had already followed this Transandalus on the way to Almeria, and rather successfully: rocky road but still good to ride, with beautiful views). I tell myself that it would be stupid not to take advantage of such an opportunity, which would allow me to reduce my journey to Seville by several dozen kilometers. Let’s go! The beginning of the stage proves me right: small dirt road to leave Malaga, then we go along beaches for some time: palm trees, bars, campings, bars, campings, palm trees. Then I join the famous national road: there is indeed a small path on the side of the road, with the safety barrier protecting me from the cars. Great, I say to myself, and it is the signal to unleash the jokes… First the passage starts to narrow seriously, to the point that I have sometimes not more than one meter between the security barrier and the ditch to pass. It’s a nightmare. After a few kilometers, I can’t take it anymore, I try to reach the beach. There is a path along it. Great! Ah Ah Ah, it is forbidden for bikes. I ignore the reproachful looks of the walkers, I pray not to run into a police patrol and I go anyway. After two kilometers, a construction site, impossible to pass. What a laugh ! I turn around and go back to the road and my micro bike path. I have to take off my bags several times to pass because the path is too narrow. I laugh! I enter a park, with a track in wooden boards. At least I can move forward! I leave the track, a small path that should take me across the river. At a bend, a tree blocks my way and there is no bridge after that. My ribs hurt from laughing so much…

Hmmm, blocked…

I decide to join the national road. When I arrive in Marbella, I find a bicycle path along the beach, authorized for bicycles. Then comes the moment when I have to ride along the main road again. I’m really fed up with this path (I was about to put the bike down and sit on the side of the road to cry), and I decide to take the road, I’ve seen cyclists doing it, even if I’m not reassured by the idea of being grazed by trucks going 90… Picking my poison… I’m riding well, I’m starting to feel confident, and I tell myself that I just have to follow this road to the next town. I start to feel clever again, I feel better and better and I miss a fork in the road. I end up on the highway (the real one) towards Malaga. Everyone is laughing now! I am very far from being serene, I start to wonder how many kilometers I will have to do before finding an exit. The GPS indicates me a small road on my left. I cross the highway (which fortunately is empty). I see a small dirt road, on the other side of a fence. I can’t take it anymore, it’s really too funny. I go over it, fortunately I am tall and Jay is not too heavy…

The highway « exit »

Nothing to report after a few tens of kilometers, I pass to Algeciras, refuel and start a last climb for the day. I decide quite quickly to stop, I am starting to feel exhausted. I try 2-3 paths that leave the road: private properties. Too bad, need to go on. I have a pretty sight on the rock of Gibraltar at the bend of a lace, but the night is not far so I do not linger. I spot a forest a little further on the road, but when I arrive at the fork, I realize that it is a military field. Too much humor is starting to kill humor. I’m a bit fed up with everything and in defiance of all my principles, I pitch my tent right next to the road, on a slope, 50m away from the « Military Field » sign. We’ll see what will happen…

The rock of Gibraltar

The next morning, while I am folding my tent, a soldier in a car stops: « You know that it is a military ground? – Doesn’t it start a little further on? – No, you are in the middle of it. – Ah – You leave – Yes (No, I settle down sir, it is 8:37 am, and it is the perfect place to pitch a tent don’t you think?) – Very well, you’ll get a pass for this time « . We start having fun again in the morning! I go down to Tarifa, and go on a dike that separates the Mediterranean sea from the Atlantic ocean. I tell myself that there must be a nice viewpoint with a sign: « You have reached the southernmost point of continental Europe ». There is a sign, yes, but not the one I imagined. We are still laughing!

The dike between two seas
The sign

I say to myself, today, we follow the GPS, it is going to save us all the troubles of the day before. The first kilometers confirm this impression. The road is a little sandy while passing near a dune, but until here all is well. A nice path between the trees, the sun, I start to believe that I will spend a quiet day. Then without any warning this time, I find myself in the sand. And no way to cut to join the road, I have to push the bike. For nearly 3 kilometers. Hi Hi Hi. Despite it being April 2nd already, we continue with the auto-jokes. And as soon as the sand is not there anymore, a big hill! Ho Ho Ho. It gets funnier by the minute! But I have a beautiful sight on the ocean. And I do not know it yet but I am almost at the end of the jokes…

The Atlantic Ocean
The lighthouse of Camarinal

The road to Cadiz is uneventful, I cross several towns and villages, but no trace of a Good Friday procession (Covid regulations, apparently). On the other hand, there are terraces full of people. Especially in Cadiz, there are people everywhere: on the beach, in the streets, in the bars and restaurants. If people didn’t wear masks, I would almost think that we are back to the world from before… I take a tour of the city, which is very pretty. A beautiful beach, an impressive cathedral, and nice viewpoints every 200m. To go back, Google tells me that I can pass by the « Pepa Bridge ». My GPS tells me no. I trust Google. There is indeed a bus lane on the side of the bridge. Closed by a barrier. Good joke! But as we all know, a barrier doesn’t stop a bike, I cross as stealthily as I can and find myself on the bridge. 30 kilometers of detour avoided. I spotted a big park just after the bridge, I move a little away from the path and I am immediately attacked by a horde of mosquitoes. Laughing or crying, I don’t know anymore. Finally I move a little, find a place a little more open and a little more distant from the river with less mosquitoes. Maybe I’ll be able to sleep tonight!

Cadiz : The beach
Cadiz : The city
Cadiz : The promenade
Cadiz : The bridge

The next day, nothing to say, and I can’t complain about it! The weather is nice, not too hot, some clouds that make nice light effects on the hills, and that give from time to time a little freshness. I am on a paved road, almost alone all day long. It’s a bit windy, but hardly enough to move a hair on my beard. It goes up a bit, but never for long, and then it goes down again quickly. There’s even a bike path to get into Seville. Quiet. I rest and play tourist in the city for two days. I even meet Sandra, a friend of Etienne, and her boyfriend Juan for a little guided tour of the city.

The Plaza de España
The cathedral
Setas de Sevilla
The Guadalquivir with a view of the Triana district

The next part of the story will be written in Portugal, I don’t know yet how I will cross the border, but probably by a roundabout way… you’ll know more in the next episode!

The tour of Spain continues!

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