|11-23-2012, 03:46 AM||#1|
Por La Tierra
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Madrid, the coolest city on the planet.
Wandering Spain and Morocco on a 250
To really see a place you've got to spend some time there. I left home March 2012 and road 10,000 miles or so into Colombia and then realized my money was just about gone. So I switched continents and took a job in the South of Spain teaching English.
I am an American with Mediterranean blood, living in the South of Spain and dedicated to wandering, taking photographs and riding two wheeled machines.
To read the entire story, follow the 2nd link in my signature at the end of the post.
The Spain part begins here:
This is the first of a series of posts documenting my wanderings around Spain on my new Yamaha SR250.
The Morocco part will hopefully come early next year.
My camera is broken and is being repaired by Fuji and I havent heard anything from them yet so I finally just borrowed my girlfriends old point and shoot to show you what it looks like around here. So far I love it.
Todays ride started when I went to school and found out that I was assigned to assist a math teacher. Very typical of organization around here he wasnt expecting me. So I ended up doing fractions. They seemed to get it, not bad for learning math in two languages. I havent done fractions since I was a kid. It gets better, the next class I was assigned to did not exist during that period on that day so feeling a bit useless (but getting paid for it) I decided that today was not my day in the English teaching world and the warm rays of sunshine cutting through the morning dew were calling me into the countryside.
I had ridden the bike to school so it was a simple matter of throwing my school supplies in the Givi box and starting the engine.
When the universe is telling me something, I listen. I believe the gods wanted me to ride, not to teach English on that very day, and I rarely mess with the gods.
I rolled out of Mazarron with the hills glistening around me. "It never rains here" Ive been told a million times. Well it just rained for a week non stop so the usually brown hills were covered in a beautiful green. "This isnt normal" they kept telling me "the weather is crazy right now, it NEVER rains." "Today the rain stops" I thought. And I hope it stays dry. Global warming can take a flying Fu**!
The change in scenery however is a welcome side affect of the mystery rain.
I fueled up in El Alamillo, technically a small town next to Mazarron but its hardly its own town, I call it a neighborhood on the edge of town.
From there I circled the roundabout, Europeans love these things, and chose the inland road towards Cartagena. Cartagena Spain, just like in Colombia, is a cool old colonial era city with a rich history and plenty to do. Last week I had the best tuna ive ever eaten in a restaurant in Cartagena. I followed it with an "asiatico" which is a coffee with booze. I am taking to Spanish life quite well.
Heres the view from the cockpit.
Mazarron is surrounded by hills so to go anywhere you need to get up and over the hills. I NEVER take the toll highway and I NEVER will. Heres why:
One of the free highways:
This is the smallest bike I have ever owned and I love it. It pulls strongly through the curves and up hills. The only place it lacks is on the really steep roads at 100km/h but for 28km/liter (65mpg) I will take it. Once I reached the top of the hills I was greeted with views of the flat countryside around Cartagena.
In the smaller towns and rural areas I am reminded often of motorcycling through Mexico and Colombia.
Today I am not headed to Cartagena though, the even smaller rural highways are more suited to my mood. Usually I just criss cross the countryside and end up in small towns.
On a motorcycle you get it all. When I passed through one small town today it smelled like shit, cow shit, I took a deep breath and thought to myself "This is what its like to ride a bike, and I wouldnt have it any other way." I didnt stop in that town though, I waited till I smelled food and coffee then I stopped in the next one. The cool part about the towns in the immediate vicinity of Mazarron is that once I have been there and had a coffee at the main bar/cafe in town I can then later tell my students "oh you live in Morata?" students roll their eyes and say "yeah nobody knows it" and I can reply "I went to cafe_____ the other day, the old dude who runs the bar is quite the character" and they are amazed that I have taken the time to explore and I know something about their town. This is great for earning respect from otherwise uninterested students.
Many of the roads around here look like this, keep in mind the bike is a little one:
If I'm not in a hurry, and I'm not, I can cruise all over the state on roads like this. I love it when its obvious that the highway was built around some rocks or houses and instead of blasting them they just make the highway smaller for a minute.
The cool thing about Spain is that the countryside is littered with history, these towers are all over the place:
An old aquaduct, judging by the water leaking through the cracks its still in use!
Pulling into Perin, another example of how the highway was built after the houses.
The old church in Perin.
Hey maybe we're related! My moms surname, a common Spanish last name that I assume comes from the Soria region to the North. Somehow a whole bunch of Sorianos made it to the South of Italy because theres tons of them in Puglia and Bari where I can trace some of my routes.
I almost missed this one! What looks like a driveway is actually the road to another town, I will save it for another day though, I am headed North to the old Castillo.
The highway widens and they have drawn a white line down the middle of it!
Back into the hills.
The SR250 comfortably does 80kph and ive taken over 100kph with no trouble but I think the sweet spot is 80, at least with no fairing anyways.
Warming up now I begin to sweat a little under my heavy coat. I had stopped to take pictures and decided to take off some layers as well. Used to taking afternoon rides I looked at my watch, it was only noon! I dont know when I left the school but I thought "this is great!" I still have most of the day to mess around on the roads to the old Castillo.
"todos tienen miedo de esa carretera" my co-worker told me. Everyone is afraid of that highway. "really? WHERE IS IT!?" I asked.
I'm a man, I like curves. I always have.
Good thing I have my lucky metal phoenix bird thing, or whatever it is.
I take the turn off for Campillo de adentro towards the old military base or "El Castillito" as it is known around here. The road is nothing short of BADASS
The castle over looks the Mediteranean so those blue waters are never far.
Road could be better, but then again, there could be more traffic too, and there isnt, I will take it.
Some parts are without pot holes and are mighty fine.
As you can tell, it hugs a cliff that drops off to the left.
I decided to take a detour to another little road that headed up to a radio tower.
Down below is the bay of Mazarron and directly below is the small beach community of "la Azohia"
And finally, the highlight of the day, el castillito. Fully open to the public, you can climb around on the old guns and into the passageways and rooms.
Moving on, and making a circle back to town. I have been noticing a slipping/clunking/shifting feeling in the corners coming from the rear end, I inspected the bike and cant tell where its coming from. I will run by Motos Raul later in the day to get a mechanics opinion.
Coming back into town I pass through Isla plana one of my favorite spots to stop for a drink. They have a little social club which is basically a bar with no table service. The tables and chairs are scattered along the plaza on the edge of the sea. Its full of old guys playing cards and its cheap, they just have someone making basic drinks and coffee and snacks and they give you a tray to carry stuff to your own table. This is perfect for a tight wad like me, I can get my own damn drink and sit like a king, look over the rocks out into the sea. Back home I did this too but we always had to bring our own beer in a backpack if we wanted to drink cheap by the sea. Here they have saved me a step.
Having taken my time all afternoon it was getting late when I finally pulled back into town. The nice thing is that the Spanish siesta = later business times. They return from the siesta and open up about 5 or so, then stay open till 8 or 9.
Motos Raul, where I bought the bike. They seem like cool guys, Raul and his brother Daniel. They also guaranteed the bike for 3 months so I can bring it buy and small repairs are really cheap or free.
The shop, with Daniel on the left.
I spotted this old Kawasaki Z650 in the corner. It was imported by an English guy who babied it for years and wants to sell it. Hes asking 4000€ which is a bit steep but its in perfect shape, with 22,000 miles. I sat on it, its a heavy motherfuc*** though. Probably a sweet ride. There was also an old Honda FT500 which they said has the same engine as the XR400. Its basically a road biased dual sport and seems like the perfect touring bike. Its got nice big tires, a luggage rack, its a single cylinder and also in good shape. Imported from outside of spain they are having trouble getting the emissions test past. Maybe they can pull a few tricks and get a "friend" to run the test. Maybe this added hassle means a cheap price. I didnt dare ask how much they wanted, i just bought a bike, im not about to switch it for another. Once I get a little more money in the bank I really shouldnt ask how much, or maybe its the next logical step up from the 250?...
No mechanics shop is complete without...
Turns out the rear sprocket is slightly bent causing the chain to make some noise and the bike to pull funny in the corners, makes sense, I mostly noticed it during acceleration on the corners anyways. The bike was cheep so I was expecting a few issues like this. The previous owner must have been a real klutz! He drove this thing a mere 3400km (2000 miles +or-) since 1985 and he managed to bend the rear sprocket, perhaps backed into a curve? and he spilled gas all over the gas tank. Some bikes look good when they are beat up and I dont mind.
Chain and sprockets will set me back 90€ which is not bad at all, they wont charge me for labor. A couple of private English lessons and I should be able to scrape together the euros.
Next week my girl and I will be taking a little trip into Andalucia so I want the bike in good shape. Then, in December ive got some time off so I plan to make a big loop around Castilla de la mancha visiting Toledo and Cuenca and everything in between.
Im very lucky to be able to store the bike in my friends garage down the street so it wont continue to rust so quickly, everything here rusts but parking it outside is bad news.
Hopefully my camera will be fixed soon, if not maybe I will look for an old film camera with a vintage lens and start snapping away.
Oh yeah, the guy who bought my F650 in Colombia is now back in Canada after a 3 month tour and he left the bike in Lima, Peru, he is looking for a buyer and I think the bike needs to be out of Peru in 90 days or something. Its probably cheap. So if you are starting to feel that winter chill, this might be an opportunity for you to quit your boring job, let me know and I can put you in contact with him. He says its still in great shape!
Bellingham to Brazil (eventually)
|11-23-2012, 04:02 AM||#2|
Dances With Drunks
Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Off route, recalculating
Great report & photos. Some sitting looking at the sea with a beer would do very nicely right now!
'You like motorcycles, beer, and ladies. I'm afraid I have the same illness' - Thierry.
(Manti are dumplings not all too different from gyoza or pelmini) - Tourist.
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