I spent my last night in Güemes suffering from some kind of bug that affected me for the good part of five days. I don’t do ‘sick’ well. I’ve always tried to push past feeling ill, determined not to let a sore tummy stop me from doing the things I would normally do. But on this occasion my body forced me to stop. Not only that, during my second day in Gandia, I injured my lower back while stepping awkwardly off a curb while walking my friend’s dog. Imagine that, walking 2,650 miles through the wilderness of America with a 30 pound pack relatively unscathed, then coming to Spain, stepping off a curb, and being housebound for days.
Gandia is just south of Valencia, a party/beach town with high temperatures and 1000’s of half naked teenagers whizzing around on scooters. My idea of some quiet respite with my close friend and her husband has been very much limited to the four walls of their home, but last night my back and belly were able to make an excursion to the infamous beach where we witnessed brass bands leading scantily clad women on their hens night, over excited, shirtless football fans chanting obscenities regarding their rival teams, large men on tiny scooters, tiny women on large scooters, people carrying their friends, dogs and shopping (all at once) on their scooters; tourists, tourists and more tourists. It’s a busy but beautiful place.
For a brief change of scenery I’ve decided to head 10km south of the city to an ecological farm owned by a woman who speaks about three words of English and fluent Spanish at a rate I doubt even locals can follow. From the few words I can now string together I believe she thinks I can understand her, which has already got me in a few situations where I wasn’t sure of exactly what I should do. At one point I didn’t know if I was on the search for a chicken or a bucket, and when I went on an evening stroll she suddenly unleashed the dogs from their kennels to join me. We’ve shared hours of conversation over lunch, coffee and dinner in less than 24 hours, and the topics I imagine we’ve talked about are probably nothing close to the truth. Regardless, we’re getting along just fine.
Pilar grows most of her own food including bananas, avocados, kiwi fruits, hazelnuts, and all sort of other fruits and vegetables. She makes her own jams, mayonnaise, yoghurt and soaps. She owns 12 chickens, sews everything from handbags out of jeans to personalised bedspreads, and makes incredible home cooked meals from the comfort of her own slice of paradise.
Tonight, after growing too allergic to play with the cat, I walked Pilar’s two dogs in the direction of the mountains. Upon my return, we sat down to a feast of vegetables and fish, watching the sky turn a glowing shade of orange and pink as the sun went down behind the peaks.
Fifteen minutes later I saw clouds move across the sky faster then ever before, engulfing the mountains and blanketing the sky. The previously calm atmosphere turned into a near cyclone of wind before the most impressive display of lightning decorated the clouds. I’ve never had the fortune of witnessing a spectacle like this from such a close but relatively safe distance. There were constant strikes across the sky and down behind the mountains for over half an hour. Eventually the wind became so strong we had to move inside, but not before I stood in wonder with my iPhone recording the event. It was at that point I wondered if my sore back had actually saved me from being in those mountains. I didn’t bring my backpack to Pilar’s house because I couldn’t carry it, plus I hadn’t ventured into the mountains to hike today because I’m still experiencing pain. Maybe someone’s looking out for me!
I’m staying here for the next four days before returning to Gandia to house sit my friend’s four storey home and Alaskan Husky, who had the same stomach bug that I experienced last week. I hope he and I are both fully recovered by Thursday!