In a couple of ways, our stay in Almerimar can probably best be described as “La Linea part two”. Firstly, we have spent a lot more time here than we had intended (in fact, we had just anchored outside the marina as a night stop on our way further east – we only came in to the marina to avoid a bad weather front…) and secondly, we have met more than a handful of people who planned to stay a couple of weeks but “that was six years ago”…. We are very aware that we need to move on!
However, it has more than served its purpose. It is the cheapest marina we have ever found, so it was the ideal place to stay while the months of waiting for the birth certificate and passport ticked by – it is also only a 3.5 hour drive back to La Linea (where we had to go several times to chase up the application). We had realised early last summer that we couldn’t go to the Balearics without the birth certificate/passport since both Jamie and I needed to be present to sign documents and forms – we did wonder how single parents cope with this somewhat traditional aspect of Spanish bureaucracy.
There is a large ex-pat community here which, while possibly not the sort of thing we normally look for in a destination, was also a good source of help – namely Chris, who was the lady who finally managed to get Hugo’s birth certificate issued!
There have been several festivals and parades – Andalucia does not wont for bank holidays! – and we have seen the 3 Kings Festival (6th January), Semana Santa (Holy Week, 9th – 16th April), as well as several local processions the we didn’t know the reasons behind, but all seemed to involve Jesus and Mary. The 3 Kings festival is primarily about sugar, and the kids all turn up with their carrier bags to fill them full of the sweets that each of the 3 Kings throw from their floats. It’s utter carnage, and by far the best-attended event in Almerimar!
The province of Almería also boasts the best weather in Spain and – despite some pretty severe and persistent gales over winter – we have enjoyed decent temperatures (15 degrees plus) all winter and plenty of sunshine to boot. Now that spring has arrived, we are already basking in 20-25 degrees daily, and the rain has finished until next winter. This is particularly lucky for motorists; the roads become incredibly greasy as the year’s grime gets floated to the surface, the drainage is non-existent, and the locals are so unaccustomed to driving in wet conditions that to see 3 or 4 accidents per rain shower is not unusual.
It may not be the most intrepid of locations, nor is there an awful lot in the immediate area, but it is a great location for visiting places that have more on offer: Granada, Málaga, Almería, Sierra Nevada, Nerja, Cabo de Gata, and the European Desert (to name a few) are all less than 2.5 hours away. The cheapness of the marina has meant that we have been able to hire a car several times and we have been able to do quite a lot of exploring in Andalucia. We will cover ‘recommended day trips’ in our next post, but here is a taster of some of the places we’ve visited so far:
Hugo also started attending the local nursery for a few hours a day – he really enjoys it, and is in a class of about six 1-2 year olds. He has been bringing home all sorts of a) random toddler art and b) random toddler illnesses. The most unpleasant of the latter being ‘mouth, hand, and foot’ (different from ‘foot and mouth’, they were at pains to point out…) – he was also kind enough to share this utterly, utterly horrid pestilence with me. It is highly infectious (and is at its most infectious before visible symptoms appear…), it then takes hold super-fast and takes far too long to disappear. Hugo and I had it 2 months ago, and we are still both losing finger and toenails to it!
We have even managed to get a (very little) bit of sailing in! Some constant 15kt easterly winds, and not too much swell gave us very nice conditions for easy sailing. If only it was a little bit more consistent in this part of the Med, much more sailing would get done. Unfortunately the winds tend to either be gale force (meaning that everyone hides in the marinas), or non-existent (meaning that people end up having to motor to get anywhere). People we have spoken to that have spent extended periods in the Med (the ones who have actually left the marina and moved around…) have said that they averaged about a third of the time actually sailing, the remainder was all motoring or motor-sailing.
We have made friends around and about the marina – both boat and land-based friends. I take Spanish lessons and go horse riding along the beach with boat friends, Alison and Christine. There are some great cycling routes along the coast in both directions, and nice runs along the beaches and in the nature reserve (if you avoid mosquito season…). Alison and I tried our hand at SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding), which was really good fun – and harder work in the waves than we had anticipated! Jamie has also taken courses in computer coding and website development, so is working on – amongst other things – a new and improved blog site for us!
We have also had many, many visitors; Emma & John, and Steve (none of whom can be said to be shy about getting on an aircraft) have all made their third visit, Paula and Joe chose to clock up their second AND third visits on the Costas… Louise ticked off her second visit, and Susanne, Meresa, Phil & Sarah their first, so we have not been short of people to show around the local sights (by which I mostly mean tapas bars, although there have also been day trips and a couple of short breaks!).
So we have not been sitting idle here in Almerimar, but we will be off on the next phase of our journey at the beginning of June – first stop Cartagena, about 120NM (or 3 day sails) away. Everyone says the hardest bit is leaving the marina, and we have certainly experienced that in the last 20 months(!), so we have even booked a berth in Cartagena to keep us focussed on the plan!