Mazagon turned out to be an undistinguished
(out-of-season) Spanish holiday resort with a long sandy beach, a few
restaurants and a couple of supermarkets. The marina itself was fine – the
people were friendly and the two bars were good and had free wi-fi, plus the
washing machine was cheap (I really am quite easy to please).
Mazagon beach on the Costa de la Luz – the Coast
When the weather deteriorated (so much that quite
a few of the ports in the area were closed to shipping), we battened down the
hatches (to stop the rain coming in) and read, sewed, cooked, watched DVDs, and
did research for our Volcano project. Every now and then we donned full wet
weather gear to escape to the bar for a beer and a chat.
Bryn learned how to drive the sewing
On the cooking front, Bethany made chocolate
truffles, and Bryn and David cooked Ratatouille, aided and abetted by Remy, of
Bethany – queen of the chocolate
Big Chef, Little Chef and Remy…
…and the ratatouille!
When we had cooked, sewed, watched and read
ourselves silly and it was still raining, we hired a car for a few days and did
a bit of exploring.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
El Rocío is one of the places where many Spanish
pioneers left for America. They took with them the
architecture and dress style of the region – ‘cowboy’ hats, western saddles,
chaps, etc. Today the streets are still just bare sand and all the houses, bars
and restaurants have places to tie up your horse! The whole place is just like a
Spaghetti Western film set – I almost expected to see tumbleweed rolling down
the street to the haunting theme tune from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
Wandering around the deserted streets during siesta time (not having got back
into the swing of Spanish time again yet), we realized that Beth and Bryn’s
education was seriously lacking – they’d never seen a Western! Next time we do
Amazon, we’ll be ordering The Good, The
Bad & The Ugly and The
Today, El Rocío is the focus of one of
Spain’s biggest pilgrimages when the
place is apparently overrun by thousands of visitors who descend on horseback
and in horse-drawn carriages for the annual Romería del Rocío, which centres on
a tiny wooden effigy of the Virgin Mary. It is certainly the place to go for
your cowboy hat, chaps and all things horsey.
Not sure what El Rocío would smell like in the
summer with lots of horse poo mixed in with the sand...
Doñana National Park
This area of Andalucia contains the Doñana
National Park, Spain’s largest national park and a World Heritage Site. The park
consists of more than 50,000 hectares of low pine trees, natural waterways and
marshland, bounded by 30 metre high sand-dunes to seaward. We spent an afternoon
in the Marine Museum trying to translate the info from Spanish into
English to learn how the great dunes were formed and what birds and nasty
beasties lurked in and around them, including scorpions, snakes and spiders (we
didn’t know that scorpions were found in Spain and Portugal…). The
museum also had an amazing display of life-size models of whales and dolphins,
including complete skeletons of a killer whale and a 20-metre fin whale, and
exhibits showing local fishing methods and boat-building
Later the rain stopped long enough for us to scale
the dunes and walk along the top for about a mile to take in the amazing views
out to sea and inland over the vast pine forest and marshes.
Steps and boardwalks up and across the dunes keep
the nasty beasties (the humans) away from the scorpions, snakes and
The vast pine forest of the Doñana National
Park stretches out to the horizon behind the Marine World Museum.
We travelled in to Seville to the famous April Fiesta – twice. The
first time we went to see the women promenading (through the mud) in their
flamenco dresses, accompanied by horses and riders, horse and mule carriages.
The second time we went to get a flavour of the fairground.
Obviously getting your colour scheme right is a
very important part of the celebrations.
Some well groomed bottoms… (and David says that
the horses aren’t bad either).
The poshest mules that I have ever
I don’t ever remember seeing a fair as big as the
one in Seville –
not even in childhood memories! Bethany and Bryn did fairground rides (of which
I shall remind them the next time they complain about the boat motion), toffee
apples and candy floss. We were delighted to find some lovely greasy kebabs for
our supper (the first since leaving Swansea), which fitted the fiesta atmosphere
Bryn and Bethany getting a sugar
Sausage, egg and chips – Seville
On the way into Seville we did IKEA in Spanish on a hunt for
under-bed-springy thingies for improved comfort and ventilation. David (knowing
how much we women LOVE a mooch around IKEA) was a bit crafty and had me in and
out in 20 minutes flat before I’d realized what he was up to. More importantly,
I suppose, we got the springy thingies, so hopefully the bunks will be more
comfy and the underside of the mattresses won’t go green…
When the rain finally stopped we returned the hire
car and headed back westwards from Mazagon to Ayamonte. A 5 am start had us
peering into the darkness on the lookout for pot buoys for the first couple of
hours, but a gentle breeze got up with the sun, giving us enough wind to get the
genoa out (first time this year) for a motor sail. Ayamonte is lovely – really
pretty – plus the added advantage of lots of cheap bars, a few supermarkets to
choose from, and free wi-fi (what more could a girl ask for – apart from a good
LONG mooch around IKEA of course…). This would be a great place to linger but we
have a river to explore first.
The main square in Ayamonte.
Looking across the Rio Guadiana from Ayamonte in
Spain to Vila Real de San Antonio in Portugal.