Check out this link describing our perfect storm.
This week started with a bang! We awoke to the deep beats of a trance club and the flashing lights of an enormous malfunctioning strobe light, all the while pitching and rolling as if on a fairground ride!! Our first thunderstorm on the boat was a real cracker, so to speak.
The trance beat of the thunder escalated to a deafening hammer as hailstones the size of cherry tomatoes pelted the boat from all sides. Our small occasional leaks became quite persistent trickles under the pressure of the torrents washing over the hatches. (note to self: buy more sikaflex) Needless to say we were fairly happy to be tied up safely in a sheltered marina – it was quite rough enough thank you very much!
This happened on the first night we welcomed our first family member to Almazul… Magnus’s youngest daughter Anna visited us for a few days this week, and upped our average photo and video footage by 1000%!
Some new experiences this week included:
- The crazy thunderstorm – the only damage we sustained was to the Bimini top – several seams tore apart; and to the Saab , which gained cellulite overnight (a common problem..) but in this case on the boot, roof, and bonnet.
- Discovering several new places in Barcelona – La Boqueria food market – colours, aromas, ANYTHING you could think of to eat or cook.: El Courte Ingles – a fab department store with a skyhigh restaurant boasting incredible city views and a sumptuous buffet, and an unbelievably decadent basement food hall… and it hurts me to say that it may top DJs in Bourke St Melbourne, and even Harrods?
- Going to a FESTA! The Catalan festival “Festa de Gracia” in Barcelona includes Catalan traditions such as the incredible spectacle of human tower building – where groups of skilled people (colles castelleres) together form tall cylinders, the record being 10 people high! We witnessed a group form a base ring, and concentric circles of people pushing inwards to reinforce the foundation of the tower, then others climbed up the sides of the tower symmetrically until the last layer; small children wearing helmets – ascended to the top!! We saw one successful construction to 6 people high, and our friend witnessed a 7 person high tower, with a tumbling unscheduled deconstruction at the final moment! Crazy stuff! This would never happen in Sweden…or Australia for that matter. Another aspect of the festival was street decorating, with many streets competing for top honours. Music and food was everywhere. Other traditions included a fire run (correfoc) and “colles de diablis “(groups of devils) chasing and dancing to the beat of drums. We knew we were not in Australia or Sweden on this evening!
- Having Anna to stay. It was very important when choosing the boat that it would welcome our families whenever they would like to visit, and Anna was the first. (And come on down Johan and Amelie, Cecilia and Marcus, Lara and Kyle, Bonnie and Craig!!) Whilst Anna was here we had some nice anchoring, with some swimming and paddleboarding from the boat, a day in Barcelona, eating out, beach days….. a nice vacay blend?
- Finally completing the walk to Sitges! We have attempted this before, and had to abort due to difficulty locating the track at many points… we had the same difficulty, but were more stubborn this time. We walked 25 kms in 35 degrees and although beautiful, there were times when the steep inland tracks felt like “no country for old men” (or women for that matter!!)… By the time we got home, it was a fairly sluggish finish TBH
- We have had varying challenges and joys discovering differences in cultural expectations here in Spain. Magnus has torn his hair out waiting for tradesman to arrive at all, let alone on the arranged day, anywhere close to the arranged time. All of our contacts have turned out to be trustworthy and very good at their job – but we have come to understand that the appointment making/keeping is very different to Swedish expectations. …… It is good that Magnus is now learning to do some Pilates breathing, after the cursing phase has passed…or better still, regarding it as a wonderful surprise and actually rejoicing if someone comes within a couple of days of when we thought they might..!! Regarding frustraions and challenges, my biggest so far came this week, when after a long day in Barcelona, not just one bus left us behind, but two drove off, leaving us swearing in their dust…..aarrgh!! Let me tell you this sad tale., if only for my own sake. There we were, Magnus, Anna and I; suitably wilted after a long hot day in Barcelona, standing at a crowded bustop inhaling dust and diesel fumes waiting for the L94 to open its doors and welcome us into the airconditioining and whisk us home. After watching our orange chariot for about 20 minutes, we sprang into action when we heard the hiss of opening doors, only to be brushed aside as they immediately closed again and the bus slid steathily away, while we and other potential passengers chased it down, banging the sides to alert the driver of his small? oversight (Hello, the PASSENGERS?!) But all to NO AVAIL! (insert curse here) OK, so it’s now clearly time to employ some pilates breathing, slightly tight lipped, but FINE!! (not really, but what can you do.) So now we repeat: inhale diesel fumes, wait sweatily for 15 minutes, then watch the next L94 even more closely, and jostle to the front of the queue to avoid previous unfortunate situation. Made it onto the bus! Tick! Then the bus driver says we need change… COINS in fact… I was a little cranky by now, and my inner mongrel introduced itself and I thought quietly “I am NOT getting off this bus…” so I stayed put, and hoped that Magnus may have gone to the nearby Maccas for change while I held up the bus – I was prepared to feign fainting, childbirth… ANYTHING really, but no; he and Anna had disembarked for good – and so after some minutes I realised I would be travelling home without my companions. But more compellingly, I had a flashback to my last brush with the law in Spain, and decided that maybe being held in police cell at 50 yo would not seem like quite the adventure it was in 1993! (with Carolyn G, nee S!!) We got home eventually, on our third bus attempt.
- A very unexpected meal at a local cafe – my omelette arrived con pan, but Magnus’s hamburger arrived sin pan? (bread!)
- Anna got a taste of what caring for her elderly father might be like, reading the menu when we both forgot our glasses, ordering when we couldn’t hear the waiter… when all she really wanted was for someone to invite her out to a bar, far far away from her responsibilities!!
- (On a side note – when we forget our glasses, we are practicing the emergency strategy of taking a photo then enlarging it to read! (thanks for the tip Per) Effective, bit not efficient, quite laborious actually!!)
FOOD AND BEVVY HIGHLIGHTS
- Catalan street food at the Festa – small bites of absolute authenticity! We bought ours from a small stall made of card tables, like a CWA stall at a local fete. Perfect!
- The Captain made POPCORN!! I think I am seeking salt, or that’s my current best excuse for absolutely HOOVERING up an indecent amount of popcorn on Friday evening.
- Risotto Milanese at the very local Italian cafe, eaten to the strains of a haunting saxophone solo, in the company of a Guadalupe native. (The Milanese variety of risotto includes saffron and parmesan. Simple but perfect.) Must try this at home.
- Discovering a strange beer called Desperado, apparently a fave of Steve’s? Not being a beer drinker, I was not aware of the slightly odd combination of flavours that this brand delivers. It is labelled as having TEQUILA??? but not the matching alcohol content. Please explain Steve?
- Swedish Marabou chocolate, imported by Anna.
- Discovering Japanese Mochis, in a Spanish department store, as you do! (Thanks Anna!) When I told my daughters that they MUST try these NOW because they were SO good, Lara informed me that they were old news to her, and available at our local Woolies. Whaaat??? My best description of these is: a very creamy mousse (although I think technically it is called ice cream) encased in a layer of sweet rice paste. Delish! I am glad i enjoyed these wholeheartedly before reading that 2 people died this past NYE by choking on mochis!! (Statistically most people who choke on mochis are over 65, so I am going to hoover up a few more in the next 15 ears!!) Magnus may need to hurry a little more though!
- Embarrassingly little to report this week but:
- Fixed Bimini top
- Started writing boat safety/emergency procedures, crew induction etc
- More requisites ordered, some arrived. (Bec’s lifejacket)
- Learned how to fix a snubber to the anchor chain
We are really hoping to set sail for Gibraltar at the end of September – so in terms of readying the boat, and ourselves, “SH*T JUST GOT REAL” to quote a line from the New Zealand movie “Hunt for the Wilderpeople!”