Monday, 13 August 2012

Alcanar by a different route

Today's been slightly cooler here in Vinaròs, but still horrible humid. Still rather be here than in Britain waking up to the sound of public back-slapping, and well intended reflections in the wake of the Olympic closure ceremony. This endless wittering of the 'didn't we do well' kind gave a strong incentive to switch off the news and get on with preparing next Sunday's sermon early, as I have a busy week - first fetching Fr Hywel from his flight, to stay here for the week, then getting myself back to Wales for a Olympic free long weekend at home.

By lunchtime the sermon was done, so I went into town during siesta and shopped for fruit and veg in the Mercadona to prepare for the coming week. After I'd unpacked the shopping, stowed everything and had a drink, it was already six o'clock. Rather than slump in front of the news, I went for a bike ride, this time following the unmetalled road running alongside the Barranco de la Barbiguera inland. At the crossing with the N340, the unmetalled road dips down into the river bed and follows it for some distance until it rises up and weaves through the orange orchards. 

A kilometre further on it meets one of the minor roads  linking Alcanar and Vinaròs, near the point where the road itself dips down and fords the river in the rainy season. Throughout its length, the barranco is lush and green with tall bamboo and flowering oleander bushes, suggesting that water cannot be far below the surface here. Perhaps when it rains hard in winter, water re-surfaces and brings a whole lot of new life to this river bed. The one local barranco with standing water on the surface at this time of year is the riu Senia, at Vinaròs' Valencia-Catalunya border.

I cycled to the outskirts of Alcanar, seen here below, then returned by another minor road taking me past more orchards and several tree nurseries.  Here and there across the plain are industrial sheds containing animals to judge by the stench - sheep, goats, pigs, chickens are all raised hereabouts. This is very much food production country.

I noticed too for the first time the rather plain unimposing structures housing pumps to deliver water from artesian wells (I think) direct to the fields  by means of ubiquitous black plastic irrigation pipes in use nowadays.

The road led back to the N340 junction where the road crosses the aforementioned riu Senia. This meant that I had to cycle a kilometre along the generous hard shoulder, with big lorries whizzing by.  Many cyclists use this road, so that's why the hard shoulder is wide. It was a little nerve-wracking, but for my trouble I got a photo of a defaced road sign on the Valencia-Catalunya border which I spotted in my first few days here. It so reminded me of Wales, and issues of identity politics which are now a vigorous component of debate in many corners of our grand European Union.

I crossed over the N340 at the point where the coast road along the Costa Norte begins, and cycled along the cliff path most of the way back to Zona Saldonar. A satisfying round trip of about 15km on quite a pleasant early evening.

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