North Figuerus – Girona
Tourist day! Hey, If I ever grow old and decrepit, I don’t think I’ll be able to deal too well with the fact that I passed through Dali country without stopping at the museum.
I woke that day with only that in mind, a day off from the usual routine of fresh coffee with a hint of methylated spirit whilst checking maps and water points. I skated into town and the museum was the first thing I saw. A great result which quickly faded with the realisation of the entry fee. Gutted! I exchanged that saved cash for the luxury of a mega cheap cafe con leche and the day glow sign on my backpack did its job with precision like effect: the waitress questioned my trip and took a shine to the adventure, what I’d been trough and the reasons I was doing it. She hustled a few euros from the patrons at the bar and contributed to the cost of the ticket to the museum. “You can’t pass through here without going to the museum!”. An order I was happy to fulfil.
Not a melting clock in sight! I did two rounds just in case I’d missed them but, needless to say, the majority of Salvador Dalis most famous pieces are hanging on a wall of some pop star for status and being completely unappreciated.
The guy was definitely a bit of a dude though!
With my visit to the museum not exactly filling the day, I now had to make progress and the very wrong time to consider making any progress, 11am – 6pm, and my road was only the highway. No cover, no shade. The N2 south to Girona.
I’d only made it 12km to Pontos. I was fed with both culture and calories, watered and should have been able to progress with ease. I’m not sure if it was the sun or my mental concerns about the lack of shade but something was making this a particularly tough run. The traffic was certainly a concern but I had a huge hard shoulder to myself and, for once, one without a slalom course of rocks to dodge. Pulling myself back up from my barrier side sitting position and starting into an abyss of sunlight was the hardest part. When would I next be able to stop and cool down? Even with plenty of water, I didn’t like the chances. The second rule of long distance skating was hanging by a thread. If it’s not fun… it’s not skateboarding. I needed to get off the highway and get some shade so I hiked back about 1km and hooked a right into towards the tiny village of Pontos, doubling the distance but a break from the sun and traffic might just bring back the fun.
Now I know from experience that all I need to do is find shade and cool down. My brain is telling me “go on, grab another ice cold coke” but simply time out of the sun is enough. What I wasn’t expecting was a pool! A lady called Layla pulled over, a rear seat with so many kids planted on it that it fell just short of a scene from the Beverly hill billies, apart from the VW badge and a stunning property of course. “You need to swim?”. Thats the first time I’ve ever heard that from a passing stranger but if there was ever a time and a place, then was exactly that. Layla had done her fair share of trekking so knew the signs of a weary traveller in need of a little refuge. Welcome to Spain! No concerns of inviting a foreign stranger into a home full of kids. Simply a traditional helping hand thrust at someone in need. Must be something to do with all the olive branches.
During my brief stay, from what I could tell, Layla and her family have found near perfection – a small and beautiful village with an ancient Hispanic aura but seemingly a community led population of young families. Her husband had obviously done very well and it was a shame I only got enough time for a high five. Certainly not enough to thank him for installing the pool.
Layla assisted. A decent coffee, a cold apple, a swim, help with a route that didn’t involve too much of the N2 highway and finally a lift to the nearest bus stop when we discovered there really wasn’t such a thing. I wanted for public transport as Layla’s husband arrived to pick up her broken down car. We’d made my destination but the car would let her return. First gear down and out. They were off within minutes which tipped the scales back in the right direction after all she’d done to help me that day. I was left at the bus stop contemplating the next 28km.
The heat hadn’t died down but the traffic had. I was refreshed, fed, watered and fuelled with caffeine. I didn’t want to take the bus, so I didn’t. The N2 isn’t the right place to be hiking but I knew I had worse to come. If I couldn’t do this, how the hell was I gonna make Barcelona?
The sun was dropping now offering a fair about of shade from the roadside trees. I say trees but honestly I know know at which point a bush becomes a hedge or a tree or whatever. This helped regardless but the orangey hue in the sky didn’t as I started to get the feeling it was disguising my hi viz backpack. Close call or locals trying to give me a fright. Doesn’t matter either way when you think about it. A near miss or a close call is actually a very good thing right up to the point when it no longer qualifies the word “miss” or “close”.
I didn’t have the energy to raise a middle finger even if I could have been bothered to.
The blister within the already popped blister was now getting another blister inside it. It’s the hiking. It’s just another creepy thing that’s telling me I should put the board down and push. It’s fate. It’s not coincidence. It’s a sign. Or it’s the fact that my shoe has no sole on it and that’s putting my step out. It’s not a hindrance though. Not really anymore than shooting pain in my hip or the swollen ankle that seemed to be forming very slowly.
The home straight, the final run to the sun was turning out to be completely different than how I’d imagined it during planning. The lack of board time killed my progress and let me in the danger zones, under the sun for far too much time. The extra energy needed was starting to take its toll on my condition and this made the last couple of hundred km seem even more difficult. More difficult than it was in fact. I just needed to get it over and done with.
Girona came and went pretty quickly. By the time I’d got to a quiet enough spot along the river, there was barely enough light to set up camp. I was tucked away next to an allotment but the chance of a free and organic morning veg feed didn’t help get away from the tiger Mosquitos. They say they get their name from the distinct black and white markings. This is not true. Since when the fuck have there ever been black and white tigers? They actually get their name from the teenagers of Croydon that are struggling to come to terms with the fact that they are black on white or white on black or whichever way round it is or isn’t supposed to be in current day street fashion. They have a serious attitude problem and when you tell em to “get lost”, what they hear is an invitation to pester even more, nipping at your heels, constantly coming back at you. Ok, so the Croydon kids come with a less likely chance of passing you yellow fever, I’ll give them that one.
It’s wasn’t idyllic. The funnel web I hadn’t realised I’d set up right next to was housing something big enough that made the bush shake 3ft from my makeshift pillow. Glad I wasn’t here for long tonight. An early rise was an easy decision!