After yesterday's excitement we planned a more sedate day for our 24th anniversary.
Ian presented me with a card that he had bought before we left the UK, amazing foresight, while I gave him a card I had made yesterday while he was ensconced in the engine room!
Catching the local bus to El Ejido we then caught a second bus to the town of Almeria about 15 miles down the coast from Almerimar. With waiting the whole journey took about 2 hours!
Failing to find a tourist office we popped into a car hire shop to ask the way and the guy turned into a tourism guide and gave us 2 maps- job done! We had read that the Alcazaba was well worth a visit and rivalled the Alcazaba part of the Alhambra. We were not disappointed, it was a fascinating place and we spent several hours exploring the three different sections. For some reason it was also free to enter which makes it join the list of one of the best value sights!
After rejecting many bars, and finding some Lonely Planet recommendations closed for September, we hit lucky! Some of Sam's magic must have rubbed off! A lovely tapas lunch with the best seafood tapas we have had since leaving the Rias, surrounded by Spaniards chatting in their usual style!
Dinner at the Club Nautico restaurant that has a terrace that overlooks the marina(and Max!) finished the day beautifully, and I even got given the red rose from the table to take home! Another memorable anniversary and year- thanks Ian!
Safely tucked up in Almerimar Marina Ian knew he had to do it!
The first full service of the main engine had become due as we made our way here. That means that we have motored for 250 hours since the last service before we left the UK in May.
Giving himself a day of rest to psyche himself up, he was actually looking forward to it, Tuesday morning saw him out of bed early(well ish)and raring to go !
Assembling tools and spares he donned his working clothes and head torch and said' I may be some time' as he disappeared into the engine room.
Many hours later, after many drinks of coke, several snacks and a lunch break, the dirty deed was done.
All that remained was to test that the engine still started and there were no leaks. For some reason I had to count to 10 and turn the engine on...(apparently he says that was to give him time to bend back into the engine room to check the flow of cooling water!)
Hoorah! It worked! He counted all the parts out and all the parts in and they made a working engine again!
All he wants to know now is whether it is cheaper to buy new spares here or the UK.........
For the next time .....
Thank goodness for that! The engineer has just left and the generator is fixed-well sort of !
The part we have been waiting for made no difference but then the engineer found a fault with the exhaust temperature sensor that caused the fuse to blow every time we tried to start the gen. After talking to Mastervolt in Holland it was agreed we could by-pass this sensor as there is another temperature sensor that would alert us to any problems. So, with this temporarily by-passed until we get a new sensor the gen is working. After too many engineer hours it looks like we may have found the problem and replacing this part will confirm this.
Despite being keen to get going again we have had a busy and enjoyable week here. On Monday morning we went for a long bike ride all along the front and got a better feel for the area- good exercise too! Later that day Dragonfly turned up- a boat we recognised from Gibraltar but we hadn't spoken to the couple on board. David and Ann have done a similar trip to ourselves so we had many experiences to share over a drink on Max on Tuesday night- It was a lovely evening.
Wednesday saw Ian determined to fix the windows. We left Southampton with duck tape on three of the saloon windows as we had niggly leaks that we just couldn't seem to pinpoint. Removing the adhesive from the duck tape that was left on the window was a big job especially in the heat but after the prep Ian sealed the outer rim of the window that he is convinced is causing the leak.
Window number two was tackled on Thursday and this one needed sealing on the inner rim. Cleaning and masking up the window took an age and once Ian had sealed it he was not happy with the finish he got. Whether it was the heat or the sealant, he had to buy some at the chandlery and it was not sikaflex, he's not sure but he will probably do it again at some point. Really frustrating as it took ages.
Meanwhile I have been cleaning back and polishing all the white superstructure- it was really dull and dirty after all the UV and heavy use. A hot job any time past 0900hrs with lots of shade breaks required!
Thursday night we took a break from jobs and caught the bus up to Mijas, a 'village blanco' up in the mountains above Fuengirola. They had a four day festival and Thursday night was the Procession de la Virgin de la Pena. (Virgin of the Rock- their patrona)We arrived up there at about 1800hrs to find the whole of the village had bunting and lights up, bit like Christmas lights in the UK and there were four marching bands warming up . Each band was quite large and had pennants and different uniforms. They had people of all ages playing in them and it was good to see many teenagers, girls and boys, taking part. They eventually lined up and each one set off playing and marching round the narrow village streets.
After watching each one march past we wondered where their route took them so we set off up to the higher part of the village through some back streets and steps. Many of the upper windows and balconies of the village houses had Virgen de la Pena banners draped over them or Spanish shawls attached to the walls above doorways. We followed the music and came out in a small square where there were a lot of people, more than there had been down below. We realised that we had been watching at the starting point but that at certain places around the village each band would stop and play for quite some time before moving on. The atmosphere in the square was fantastic as the 'red band' obviously played music that had the Spaniards singing along and dancing wherever there was a space! After a few encores a member of the next band was seen approaching and talking to the 'red band' leader - it would appear they had waited long enough for their turn so with enthusiastic clapping from the crowd they marched on and we got to enjoy the other bands too. We crossed the square to get away from the drums which were always at the back of the band and very noisy and realised there was a long balcony along one building that we had not been able to see. On the balcony was the mayor and his wife and Miss Mijas ' the festival queen' along with about six attendants. All the girls wore beautiful Spanish dresses and were using their fans! Overall the atmosphere was very relaxed as is normal here - if someone in the band spotted someone they knew there was back slapping and kissing and shouted conversations- as long as they were not actually playing!
We knew that the procession we had come to see started at 2130hrs so after the bands had finished we saw a restaurant in the square and decided to have dinner there. Everywhere was busy but it appeared to be a high percentage of Spaniards with a smaller number of tourists than we had expected. From where we sat we saw lots of women dressed in their finery including the high head combs and lace mantillas. Some young girls had dresses the same colours as their mothers or else complemented them with the same colours or fabrics used in different combinations or styles. Some of the dresses looked old as if they had been passed down the generations. Shoes matched the colour of the dresses as did combs, flowers and earrings. It was such a colourful sight and made me wonder what would be seen as our national costume?
It was hard to know where to stand to watch the procession so we took pot luck and went down the hill to another square where we sat and waited for something to happen. As people gathered we stood at the side of the square next to the narrow roadway so as to have a good view. The first we knew something was happening was when one of the bands started coming along the road- they had jackets and hats on now and looked very hot. The crowds were definitely bigger than earlier and when we looked back up the hill we had walked down it was packed all the way up- obviously they weren't marching that way!
From then on there were bands and people walking past in the parade. Groups of women and girls came past in their lovely dresses, it was colourful to see them all walking together. Then formal suited and booted guys carrying silver staffs and wearing chains and medals walked by- town council ??
We recognised the mayor and his wife from earlier and Miss Mijas and all her attendants- now all in different dresses! Children dressed in white and swinging incense burners walked by, oblivious to the crowds as they stopped to refill the burners. The pungent smell they left behind got stronger as the procession wore on. The procession moved at about funeral march speed and often stopped, we wondered if they had trouble getting through some of the narrow streets with all the people. There were no barriers or any way of knowing where you could or couldn't stand and I didn't see anyone moved on. The police were there to block roads from cars etc but seem to let the people take care of themselves.
At about 2300hrs we suddenly saw bright lights appearing round the corner. Not sure what this was as we didn't know what to expect. We had heard a bell ringing in the distanceevery now and then for a few minutes but then it all became apparent.
This was the Vrigen de la Pena being carried through the streets and the whole focus of the procession! The shrine was being carried on the shoulders of 75 men and was so heavy that the bell signified when they would stop and put it down for a rest. The bell was also used to co-ordinate the lifting procedure. The men were all dressed in white and had white gloves on and were about the same height. There were enormous flower displays of lilies and other white flowers on each corner and elaborate candelabra with very bright lights. The Virgen de la Pena was surrounded by more lights and wearing an elaborate embroidered white gown. More incense carriers proceeded her also dressed in white. The shrine was so wide that it only just fitted across the width of the street and when they put it down near us it was a struggle for the men to move away and back. No wonder the whole procession was at a funereal pace, there was no way they could go quickly with this enormous burden!
The final band followed the shrine but as it neared the end of the square where we were a live singer took over. Not sure what he sang about but the Spaniards loved it and applauded both the shrine and the singer! We applauded the shrine carriers as much as anything else, what a load, and a long walk up hilly and uneven streets on a hot night! It was definitely not a night for claustrophobics!
We eventually followed the shrine, after the locals had passed by carrying lighted candles, all the way to the church at the top of the village. It was now 0045hrs and we knew that there were supposed to be fireworks at the end of the procession but had no idea where. We walked back down into the village where there was a fair and lots of food stalls and beer tents. All the lights were on and the whole village seemed totally alive. Not all the people had followed the shrine to the end of its walk and now we could see where they were. By 0115hrs the fireworks had still not started, we had asked and no one seemed sure when they would be. We decided to catch the bus back down to Fuengirola. The last bus left at 0215hrs but we decided this may be a busy one so best to go now. Our bus was full as it left and we were lucky enough to have a piano accordion player on board whom we had seen busking earlier in the evening. He played us all the way down the mountain as the fireworks duly started and could be seen by looking out through the back windows. It was a lovely end to an amazing evening.
Managed to talk to Dad on Skype today and wish him a very happy birthday, sorry to hear weather in UK is not good at the moment!We are now looking forward to moving on tomorrow and hope to arrive in Almerimar marina by Sunday night. We are certainly taking some lovely memories with us and would have missed the festival if the generator had been fixed sooner! As they say it's an ill wind...
When is a game fishing boat not a game fishing boat?
When it's a lounge!
Spotted in Fuengirola marina, clearly a laid back fishing boat with three sofas on the foredeck which would indicate either a very relaxed approach to game fishing or patronised by many beer drinking teams with a game fishing problem!
Woke up this morning and felt like the 'holiday' was over for us too! We have decided to return to Fuengirola while we wait for the part for the generator to arrive and be fitted. Benalmadena Marina is more expensive, gets uncomfortable surge, and has no WiFi - lots of reasons not to stay. It's only about 7 miles back down the coast so took us just over an hour to get there.
Once back we were given a berth on the other side of the same motor boat as last week - the Irish guy that lives aboard was amused to see us back on the other side of him! Back to berthing with two again - made us appreciate the extra hands even more over the last two weeks!
Planning to get a few jobs done that we have been putting off this week and make the most of the wait. Weather has gone back to being scorching hot making the evenings very warm and pleasant to sit outside until bedtime.
Can't quite believe two weeks have gone by since Sam walked through the doors at Gibraltar Airport!
Played crazy golf this morning together, had a great game with lots of laughs on the way round. Alex won with Ian a close second! We left Sam and Alex to go to the aquarium together which was close to the marina- a perfect last day activity!
Based on the information from the tourist office we had worked out that they needed to catch a bus to Torremolinos at about 19.20ish and then this would give them plenty of time to catch the train to Malaga airport. This was about a half hour train ride and allowing for waiting time we thought they would get to the airport for about 2100hrs.
Upon their return from the aquarium, which they thoroughly enjoyed, we decided to go out for a very late lunch/early dinner. Being more of a tourist place restaurants serve meals all day and night unlike in the North of Spain where we had to wait until 2100 hours at the earliest! Sam and Alex chose the restaurant as Sam has a good tally of finding excellent eateries!
After a last re-match at air hockey between Sam and Ian, Sam and Alex went off to do some last minute shopping before returning to Max to complete their packing. We walked up to the bus stop with them arriving just as a bus did. Just time for a quick hug and they were off!
Seemed very quiet on Max that evening. We loved having them on board and spending time together. They both go back to busy lives, Sam coaching and Alex working before returning to Uni later in the month. It was great to see them relaxed and not having to rush around everywhere and for Sam it was his first two week holiday since starting work - hopefully it won't be the last!