I made my first expedition to Alcossebre today, as the 'El Camino', the church drop-in centre was open, and I wanted to see for myself what it was like. It's a three quarter hour journey from Vinaròs down the N350 coastal trunk road, much used by HGV traffic. If you want to get there faster you pay to use the motorway. It was impossible not to notice the occasional garden chair with sunshade parked close to the roadside or a lay-bay, decorated with a scantily clad young lady offering an alternative to the standard kind of 'service station' to gentlemen of the road. I'd noticed this phenomenon as we left Reus airport Tuesday last. Apparently the mobile 'trade' is dominated by Eastern European sex slaves, and the police are much exercised in containing it.
The church community in Alcossebre was the original congregation to develop on the Costa Azahar, and they decided to open a small shop as a drop in centre. It's just off one of the main streets, and was previously a computer retailer. With a lot of hard work, it was beautifully kitted out with kitchen and servery facilities for serving refreshments and lots of bookshelves for re-cycling English language paperbacks - always a great asset in support of expatriates. Sunday worship takes place in the nearby Parish Church of San Cristobal, courtesy of an hospitable Parish Priest. It was shut for siesta when I was there so I have to wait until next Sunday to see it for myself. The good thing is that 'El Camino' is always available for meetings, as well as the offering hospitality Tuesdays and Fridays 11.00am till 2.00pm.
While I was there I again met Phil Cornelius and his wife Pat, one of the wardens, who live nearby. When I was about to drive home, I was grateful to call on Phil's assistance, as the car failed to start. I couldn't find a way to switch off the auto-immobiliser, that he kicked in by accident because I had, by force of habit from using an 18 year old VW Golf at home, used the key to open the car mechanically, rather than electronically. The best solution lay in a system reboot, and fortunately we were able to disconnect and re-connect the battery to achieve this, as a rather tight fit battery terminal didn't need a screwdriver or spanner to work loose and break contact - and in the middle of siesta, we had no tools to hand. I felt so sorry about invading Phil's time, as I know he was in the process of preparing for a local fund raising event later that afternoon. Thankfully, he was most gracious and uncomplaining about it.
In the course of my visit I learned that the recently retired chaplain, Revd Paul Needle, still lives locally, when he's not in the UK or elsewhere in the Diocese in Europe as Communications Officer. Best thing of all was, I discovered he's a jazz pianist, scheduled to play a gig at at nearby seafront bar tonight. I was a bit un-nerved by the car experience, so felt the need to go home, rather than hit the beach until sundown, and wait for the music to begin. Crossing my fingers there'll be another opportunity.
I drove straight home without incident. With fish and veg to eat, I didn't need to go to the shops. Just as well, they were all shut, as today is the fiesta of the other big local patron saint San Pedro - the original fisher of men. So nice to be in a place where these things still matter.