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Sunday, 17 January 2010

'Cause it grows stronger, like a river flows

The campsite in Jimena de la Frontera is mostly permanent caravans for the Spanish and Gibraltese. There are only three of us here as touring campers; our neighbour is German, he greets us with the peace sign, has a small tent that leaks, a pink scooter and long hair. He thinks Germany is ‘scheisse’ nowadays and has no time for Angela and her policies.

There is no shortage of way-marked walks in this area and our third day of walking in the Alcornocales should have been an enjoyable stroll, but became another epic day out. The 11 kilometre walk started out well; after walking through the white-washed houses and the steep, narrow streets of Jimena and crossing the river on the bridge we walked up a steep hill with a view of the straits of Gibraltar and the snow capped Moroccan mountains beyond and followed a switch-back track down the other side, joined by a large herd of goats, shepherded by a young man on a motorbike. Down at the river things got more complicated once again; in places the path had disappeared under silt and flotsam bought down by the river in flood. The guide book suggested you cross the river three times, but as this was impossible we were only occasionally actually on the footpath. We scrambled, crawled and slithered our way, getting muddy and scratched by vicious thorns, eventually emerging tired and battered back on the road into town.

We left the green and pleasant land of Jimena for the washing machines and wi-fi of the coast, but not before counting the twelve Griffon Vultures sat menacingly in the field next to the campsite. We passed storks nest after storks nest along the road to Algecircas, we haven't seen these fascinating birds since Austria and it cheered us to see them standing in pairs on their lofty nests watching the blue bus travel below.

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