Hi All, we have just got back from a two day trip to Mula in Murcia visiting John and Penny Wakefield. It should have been relatively uncomplicated, but of course it didn’t turn out that way. Our satnav didn’t like the address of the hotel so we decided to drive to Mula and try again. At the second time of asking it dumped us in the middle of a scruffy industrial estate and gave up the ghost completely. It was at this point that one of those incidents that make this trip such a pleasure occurred. Three middle-aged blokes were loading up a van from a garage when we pulled up alongside them and asked whether they knew where the hotel was. This immediately led to a voluble and lengthy discussion. Finally, just as I was about to thank them and try elsewhere one of them said “We all know where it is, but none of us can agree the way there. Follow us and we’ll take you there.”
Without more ado they shut the garage door, piled into the van, and lead us right through the town, out the other side, and into the mountains. We wound along an increasingly narrow track for a couple of miles, and eventually the driver pulled up and climbed out. He pointed at a yellow sign which indicated that we should go over a narrow bridge without barriers and not much wider than the car. “Cross that and follow the track for about three kilometres. Un poco peligroso, pero muy hermosa.” And with that, they gave a cheery wave and shot off back the way we had come.
He was only partly right. It was certainly hermosa, (beautiful), but more than a little peligroso (dangerous), being extremely narrow and with several sheer drops. Anyway, we eventually found the hotel, which was brilliant and ridiculously cheap, and having booked in, we went out for lunch. On the way back, the car alarm suddenly went off, and the steering lock began to partially engage. Then the horn went off! We limped the short distance back to the hotel, and having checked all the obvious stuff asked the owner to see if he could get a mechanic out to come and have a look at it, as it was clearly undriveable. I think something may have been lost in translation, because within half an hour a massive great tow truck arrived, loaded the Beast onto the back and disappeared down the mountain leaving us carless and with no idea where it had gone. We waited for about an hour and eventually phoned John, who kindly agreed to come and pick us up. Two minutes after we had spoken to him, the mechanic phoned from the garage to say he could find nothing wrong with the car and he was bringing it back, so we had to phone John to cancel plan B. Bearing in mind it had taken the best part of six months to find a convenient time to meet, things were beginning to deteriorate like a Brian Rix farce. The car eventually turned up with two grinning mechanics on board who needed a lift back to the garage in our unrepaired but now smoothly running car. We cringed at what it was likely to cost. I couldn’t believe it when they asked for fifteen euros!
We eventually arrived at John’s an hour late, and from then on the day improved vastly. We had a really good meal, caught up on ten years of conversation, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Today we explored Mula town, which is very Spanish with lots of narrow streets and beautiful ironwork, met John and Penny for coffee, and then decided to drive across country on the way back. This was a bit of an eye-opener. Some of the small country towns are severely impoverished with lots of empty shops and derelict housing. With the recession we were not that surprised. However, what was disturbing was that so much of the landscape in what is usually a highly productive area looks like the surface of the moon. (see photos) They have had virtually no rain for over a year, this year’s soft fruit and grape crops are already looking like a write-off, and fruit and veg prices are rising substantially. There is no end in sight, and for the agricultural community it is a complete disaster.
Only another ten days in our house. We have started packing and are looking forward to moving on. Andy.