Friday, 10 August 2012

Back road to Benicarló

I visited El Camino in Alcossebre this morning, and enjoyed hanging out and drinking tea with the people who were there. On the way there and back I shopped for heavy items, trying Eroski in Benicarló for the first time. It has a varied selection of goods, but unhelpful signage to identify where things are located. It wandered around for ages trying to find clothes washing liquid, once I remembered at the end of my trek around the place that I needed it. Ah well, at least it was cool in the middle of the day.

After a late lunch and a pointless hour in front of the TV, I went for a bike ride. This time I rode south to the far end of Vinaròs, and this time succeeded in finding the minor road which crosses the Barranco d'Aiguadoliva, just below the bridge the busy N340 runs across. It doesn't exactly wind its way across the coastal plain, but makes right angular turns now and then, reflecting the field layout in  the coastal plain. For a distance of about 3km from the Barranco to the port of Benicarló, where the built up area effectively begins, the road passes through quiet open countryside, dotted with modestly opulent residences, and the homes of smallholders. Some are tumbledown and up for sale. 

A few sections of road are flanked by high bamboo grass. Here and there are colourful oleander bushes, and the occasional fig tree, but for the most part, the landscape is a patchwork of cultivated dark red earth and vegetation. Right down the the edge of the cliff, or beach depending on the land elevation, there are neat furrowed fields growing vegetables for market, or else left fallow, standing waist high with pale yellow grass. I was told that few smallholders can now earn enough to feed a family. They take factory jobs, but still cultivate the land. The neat and orderly way in which this is done suggests the value growing things still holds for them.

I was amused to see a couple of brightly coloured iron work structures sitting in fields - human sized cages with an array of seats on top of them. They looked like they belonged in an arena, but were disconnected from it. Then I remembered where I'd seen these structures of this kind before - in the main square at San Jorge - many such structures assembled to form an arena for bull-baiting. As these events are part of community tradition, stakeholders must agree to provide storage for when they are not needed, rather than them being kept in a local Council depot. For people with plenty of land it's a cheap solution, and makes this 'health 'n safety' investment less vulnerable to changes in political mood.

I rode right out along the arm of the port at Benicarló, to take in the full perspective of the holiday urbanisation of the bay from here to Peñíscola, another 8.5km further on, but I felt I'd done enough for the day and turned for home.

An interesting ride, and by my reckoning, it was 25km there and back.

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