From the camp site south of Sevilla, we drove to El Rocio on the northern edge of the Donana National Park. To avoid the motorways we navigated along minor roads; the map showed a bridge crossing over the River Guadalquiver. After 20 kms or so we reached the river, there was no bridge, but fortunately a small ferry going back and forth taking cars across so we didn't have to re-trace our steps.
We drove through pine forests with parking areas and stopped in one for lunch, continuing on into the Donana Natural Park area. We passed signs telling us the road ahead was closed, but decided to carry on; Eight kilometres and 16 speed bumps later the road disappeared into a large hole, we had to re-trace our steps this time.
We stopped for diesel in a village garage; the signs said it was self-service, but we couldn't get the pump to work. Another customer told us we had to go in to the shop first, Carol did this and explained we wanted to fill up; returning to the Blue Bus there was still no joy with the pump and an announcement on the loud-speaker in Spanish was no help so we practised our shrugging. However, another customer came over and translated the announcement into English. For being so helpful she got a round of applause from all the other customers and in delight she danced across the forecourt back to her car. So much entertainment from just 80 kms!
El Rocio has to be seen to be even partly understood, the photographs might help and if you cast your mind back to 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' you're half-way there. The town is designed for horses, with streets of sand, no tarmac in sight, hitching posts outside every house and opportunities to buy your Clint Eastwood outfit in the stores. El Rocio is a small town, with over 100 large buildings, each for the use of the Hermandad, or Brotherhood, of an Andalucian town or city, as well as private houses. At pentecost it is a place of pilgrimage for Andalucians; on horseback, in covered wagons and carriages and packed to the rafters, but at the moment it is a sleepy spot.
El Rocio is also the departure point for four-wheel drive trips into the Donana National Park; we decided this was quite an invasive way to visit this protected area and satisfied ourselves with the short walks that are permitted from the visitors centres. We were rewarded with the sight of a flock of Azure Winged Magpies in the pine woods, these pretty birds with their pale blue wings entertained us while we had our picnic.