Wednesday, 12 September 2012

An evening in the Delta

Today Les and Brenda invited to attend a Beetle Drive, lunch, followed by a session of this simple dice game which drives sane and normal people into a competitive frenzy. We were hosted by John and Jenny in the function room at the new marina in Sant Carles de la Rapita, where their boat is moored. It must be fourteen years since I last attended a fundraising Beetle Drive (like a whist drive for those who are no good with cards). This one was to raise money toward buying an ambulance for the local branch of the Spanish Red Cross. The last I took part in was held in the basement church hall in Geneva's Holy Trinity Church. The contrast couldn't have been greater, eating and playing in a room with windows overlooking the marina and its swimming pool. But it was every bit as much fun for the two dozen people taking part.

When it was over, I took advantage of the marina's proximity to the Delta to drive down to the sea past Poblenou. On the way, I stopped to photograph scores of herons and egrets as they stood in rice fields churned up by reaping machines, ostensibly mesmerised, staring into the evening sun. The air was pungent with the stench of waterlogged mud and decaying vegetation - the smell of the rice harvest.
Then, for the first, I time drove the five kilomtres of un-metalled road along the sand-bar  enclosing the lagoon, as far as the entrance road to the Salines de la Trinidad, and the conservation area beyond it, the Salinas de la Rapita, prohibited to ordinary traffic. This is nothing like any other place I know. There is water and sand as far as the eye can see in three directions. The lagoon shore is so distant, it appears as a thin line. In the light of the setting sun, the Montsia mountains behind the coastal plain beyond the Trinidad salt works are a haze covering a shadow.
Not since I travelled across Northern Mongolia back in 1999, have I experienced the exhilaration of being in such a huge uncluttered open expanse of landscape, except that here the power lines work, and supply the industrial installations of the salt works.
It's curious how the sand darkens away from the sea shore and looks like the colour of soil in some places. High salt concentrations ensure that little grows in the sand, except in clumps where it gets blown into little mounds, and rain leachs out enough salt to permit hardy species of vegetation to colonise. I saw a bird of prey patrolling off shore in the lagoon. Why so far out here I thought? Unless it was an osprey. It looks so tiny in the photo I took, it's hard to tell. At the other end of the sand bar, several people were kite-surfing on the lagoon, their 'chutes dancing at crazy angle sin the evening breeze. 
I stopped to take flamingo photos opposite the salinas of the Tancarda Lake conservation area, but the pictures with the new camera were disappointing compared to the one I lost.

Then I got stuck behind a rice harvester being taken home on a low loading trailer, and actually enjoyed the 3 km crawl back to Poblenou, as it gave me time to notice birds in the fields as we ambled along at a brisk walking pace.

What an enjoyable day!

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