So, a fairly emotional trip from Almerimar so far (see 31. Crisis on the Costa Blanca (Part One…) Almerimar – Garrucha), but we made it to Garrucha!
We had arrived in the evening of the 15th June, and were getting familiar with our new marina. Although we didn’t feel that the town was up to too much, there are some nice walking/running routes along the beach, lots of running around space for Hugo (and Bella), and it is friendly.
There was a place renting jet skis, and we often saw sets of punters walking down to pick up their charges from the end of our pontoon, along with the guides (on segways). We also had some Spanish neighbours – three guys on a sailing boat – who we had said good morning to, but nothing more… until one of them came over to ask if we had dive tanks on board…. Perhaps a strange question, as most yachts do not, but we do, and he shuffled about as he said he wondered if he might borrow one? He explained that his friend had dropped his mobile phone in the water and he had tried to swim down but it was too deep (about 6m) so they thought they might try a tank. It transpired that they had no other dive kit on board, and that actually none of them knew how to dive anyway – so we weren’t quite sure what they’d have done with the tank had we just lent it to them… just ballast to get them down there?! The mind boggles. So we offered to dive it for them.
Sometimes we find that people who don’t dive seem to think that it’s just a case of popping the kit on and jumping in, but it took about 25 minutes before I’d found all the bits I needed, assembled it, put it on, and safety checked it – all the time with all three of them standing over me, offering to help! Anyway, in I went, located the phone (eventually) in the silt, and recovered it back up to the (very relieved looking) friend. They were really grateful and invited us for a beer – and then had to wait another 25 minutes while we disassembled all the kit, washed it all down, got it back on board, and hung it up to dry!
They took us to their ‘local’ in the marina – we weren’t sure how it was going to go; they didn’t speak much English, and Jamie doesn’t speak much Spanish, but as it turned out, somehow we all got on very well! Alex (who was now re-united with his rather wet phone went off to get some uncooked rice to put it in – in the hope it would be brought back to life – we doubted it would work, but at least he had got the all-important SIM card back). The A-Team, they jokingly called themselves: Alex, Antonio and Alfonso. We translated “I love it when a plan comes together’ into English for them, and they joked about who was who from the series. We explained all our engine problems – one of them was a marine diesel mechanic and we were to give him a shout if we needed any help at all once our spare part arrived! Alex played ‘Superman’ with Hugo (with the help of the enormous fans in the bar), and a quick thank you drink turned into 5 or 6, with enough tapas that we didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day!
On the subject of eating, the thing to eat in Garrucha is red prawns. In 2015, the EU decreed that the Balearics (Mallorca, Ibiza etc) owned the waters of Garrucha, which meant that anything caught there was technically from the Balearics and should be marketed as such – not that this seems to have bothered the Garruchans much – you still see ‘Garrucha Red Prawns’ in almost every restaurant; they are rightly proud of their local shellfish and don’t give a damn about the EU and their naming rules.
We asked our new Spanish mates for a recommendation of where to try them and they unanimously and immediately told us the Rincon de Puerto – handily, very close to the marina.
It didn’t open until 20.00, so we had a pre-dinner stroll along the beach, and a drink in one of the bars. As soon as we arrived at the restaurant, we launched into ordering with gusto – the red prawns were a must-have, but we also spotted one of our favourite dishes: pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus). Despite the fact we had caught an octopus ourselves in Galicia, and then released him back on the basis that killing this beautiful, intelligent creature would be wrong (the method of dispatch all sounded a bit traumatic, not to mention complex), we almost never miss an opportunity to order this delicious dish! We also ordered some mini-whitebait (they had run out of the full-size ones!), which turned out to be extremely mini, to the point that deep frying them in batter rendered them so mini as to be almost pointless. There is a great love of deep-fried fish in this region (there are whole restaurants, ‘friedurias’, devoted to them), but to us, the fish is much better grilled ‘a la plancha’ and we rarely go for the deep-fried version. The pulpo and the prawns were fantastic, cooked to perfection and tender. The prawns were incredibly sweet, and we can see why they are so popular (and expensive). We don’t eat out ‘posh’ often, but when there is a chance to try something local and a bit special, it is a real treat, and really worth blowing the budget for. After all, food is one of the things we love most about travelling.
By this time, our friend Peter – who we met last year, just after our fire, in Marina del Este – had arrived for (supposedly) a week of diving in Cartagena. And we were in Garrucha. Originally, we had planned to meet up in Mallorca, but had changed it due to remembering previous owners’ Jo and Tim’s advice about not arranging to meet anyone if you can’t sort out alternative ways of getting there, and Garrucha is only a couple of hours’ drive from Cartagena. So, a hire car was rented, and off we went! By luck, our friends that we had departed from Almerimar with – Christine and Jim with their dog Molly – were still there, so we were able to meet up with them for a very civilised afternoon in the shade of their cockpit, while catching up on each others’ tales from the previous few days!
Peter and I got one dive the next day (finally, following a bit of a communication breakdown between us and the dive school!), and – since the spare part for the engine had still not arrived – had a night out in Cartagena with Christine, Jim and Molly, but not before Christine and I had visited the Roman Theatre Museum. Diving was abandoned the following day in favour of getting the boat to Cartagena now that we had both a spare part and a weather window. We invited Peter to come and move the boat with us and – as a diver and ex-sub-mariner; therefore more used to being under the water than on top of it – he seemed eager to give it a go. He clearly didn’t know what he was letting himself in for, however that phase of the journey will be covered in our next post: 33. Crisis on the Costa Blanca (Part 2…)…
We have also been in touch with a lady called Meg at K9 of Mine, who has written a guide for folks sailing with dogs. It has some good ideas for anyone out there who also has a dog (or other animal to some extent) on board, so you can have a look here at: https://www.k9ofmine.com/dog-boating-safety/