11 October 2017 | Granada
25 September 2017 | Almerimar
25 September 2017 | Almeria
21 September 2017 | Isla de Adrento
21 September 2017 | Mar Menor
19 September 2017 | Campello
16 September 2017 | Calpe
15 September 2017 | Porto Roig
15 September 2017 | Ibiza town
12 September 2017 | San Vincente
11 September 2017 | Between Mallorca and Ibiza
10 September 2017 | Cala Blanca, Mallorca
10 September 2017 | Palma, Mallorca
10 September 2017 | Colom, Mallorca
03 September 2017 | Cala de los Pinos
The Greenhouse Tour
20 November 2017
This area has the largest concentration of greenhouses in the world (approx 70,000 hectares), and is worth almost 3 billion euros to the economy of the region, and all of this has happened within 40 years when they decided to use underground water. It has transformed Andelucia from one of the poorest to one of the richest regions in Spain. So I decided to take a tour; I must say it was one of the most interesting tours I have done,
We drove to the "farm" through a basin of hydrogen peroxide and then walked over sponge mats containing other chemicals to kills unwanted visitors.
The plastic greenhouses were originally built to shelter the plants from strong winds, but they found that, through the temperature being raised by 5-6 deg in winter, the growing season was significantly increased; they now grow all the vegetables through the winter. Even the plastic is recycled nowadays when it is replaced every 3 years.
On entering the greenhouse there was atrong fan blowing against us to keep bugs out as we entered an anti-chamber, allowing the outer door to be closed, where we waited for several minutes before the inner door was opened. The several minute wait in the anti-chamber is to allow insects to stick to the walls, which are lined with blue and yellow sticky sheets. (The blue and yellow attract different bugs.)
The atmosphere inside the greenhouses is computer controlled by raising and lowering roof or wall vents every 5 minutes, depending on the temperature and humidity readings inside.
The plants are grown in the ground by some growers, while other prefer to use pots or tubs. The potting mix inside the tubs is made with copra fibre, organic mater, fertiliser and nutrients; the copra being fibrous keeps oxygen in the "soil". If grown in the ground, the soil is covered with about 20 cm thick layer of course sand to minimise moisture evaporation.
Water of course is a big issue, since the area is incredibly dry. The drip watering system is all computer controlled and, if grown n tubs, they have drip trays underneath the tubs to collect any unused water, which is then re-mixed with fresh water (about 15%) and reused. The water mostly comes from ground water, but they have also built a desalination plant recently.
The growing season is approx August to April, during which they grow zucchini, aubergines, tomatoes, capsicums, etc.. They need to rotate the crops if grown in the ground, but not nearly so if grown in the tubs.
One of the most fascinating aspects was the pest control They do not use any chemicals or pesticides nowadays. The transition away from pesticides took 3-4 years to achieve, but now they maintain a complete eco system inside the greenhouses. The main pests are things like aphids, thrip, white flies, mites etc that are herbivores - ie. they eat the plants. So by inserting several different species of insects (the good bugs) which are carnivores, they eat the bad guys. Some of the introduced ones eat the eggs and larvae of the "bad bugs" (herbivores) and some eat the adult insects. All this has to be kept in balance so they count the bugs once a week on a sample of 20 plants in each greenhouse. Some are only 4 per sq m and some are 70 per sq m.
All cuttings etc are left on the floor to dry for several days to allow time for the bugs to leave and go back to the living plants before the cuttings are taken out. At the end of each growing season, all the old plants are used as compost for future growing. I think she said that the EU won't let them use animal fertiliser any more.
At the end we got to sample and buy some of the produce . Interesting that she was saying that the way they eat the tomatoes, such as in salads etc. is they sprinkle a little salt over, then drown it in olive oil (mopped up in bread stick) She explained that this made a very good anti-oxidant. So we ended up buying a bottle of their special olive oil, ratatouille, and marmalade made from olive oil.
This week in Almerimar
04 November 2017
Hello blog readers. This is an update to give you an idea of how life is here in the marina in southern Spain. The weather is still bright and sunny every day, but getting gradually cooler - max 20's. Still in shorts and tee shirts during the day but cool in the evening & need a jacket when going out at night.
We had dinner aboard Anori (friends from Switzerland) late last week because Maja was returning to Switzerland for 5 months to work & save money for their further cruising; so it was a farewell dinner for her. Hajot baked us a Swiss bread (see pic taken by Maja). Hajot also showed me the latest song from his son Lucas's band, The Souls - check it out - I like it. Lucas is the one on the right of the lead singer (on the left side of the singer from his view) playing lead guitar (taking a bow at the very end of the video):
Wednesday night is quiz night in one bar, but don't often go often. I went to the one for music quiz and did very well in that one. The regular quiz is on Saturday night which has great tapas (we make that our dinner), however, our team never wins largely because its very UK-oriented. And I used to think I was good at trivia!
Sunday morning early a car drove off the end of the pontoon near us with two women aboard! Probably drunk or using the phones or both. The car was on the sea bed 7 m down and a diver was there. I believe it has been pulled up now though I didn't see the crane lift it out. Both women managed to escape as they were both there watching the diver. Another woman driver didn't do a good job parking just near us and almost went off the edge - I did get a pic of that one.
Every Sunday I go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We do about 12 Km ch week. see pix.
Still doing a few small boat jobs during the day, though nothing major right now. I went to the top of the mast to replace the mooring light recently; that was adventurous!
I didn't realise how big halloween is in Spain. I thought it was a US thing, but is really is big here. Nov 1 is a public holiday after the halloween celebrations. They put up a marquee in the small town square near our boat and had a kids party there. In the marquee they had some sort of "ghost train" experience. The kids were queued up outside to go in with their parents. Mostly the whole family were dressed up in the costumes. They had a dance floor set up for the kids and competitions, dancing and prizes for best costume etc.
We had two Spanish galleons arrive and stayed for the week. The smaller one, Nao Victoria, was a replica of one the 5 ships that Ferdinand Magellan left Spain with, and the only one to return having done the first circumnavigation of the world, Magellan never made it of course being killed in the Philippines by the natives. The bigger one, El Galeon, is a replica of one of the ships that plied the Spain-Caribbean route plundering gold & silver (The Spanish call it "trading" 😟). Both replica's have completed a circumnavigation, and are now on goodwill visits to ports etc. and are now used as training vessels. The tour, was excellent. - see pic.
This is their website: https://www.fundacionnaovictoria.org/el-galeon/
We have an open mike session every Thursday night in the Irish bar. There are several of us with guitars, one bass, girl with ukulele etc - usually about 6 in all. I usually do a set of 6 songs, but I have now lost my lead guitarist who has gone skiing in France. (See pic)
If you are interested, look at about my last 3 posts and that will give you an idea of life here. Best wishes to all.
To view the pix, just click on Gallery above and double click on them to scroll through.
Walking in the Sierra Nevada mountains
23 October 2017
Every Sunday I go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains - old mines, houses, villages, spectacular views, and rugged terrain. Hunting is popular around here so we usually pass a few hunters along the way. At the end - a cold beer. :-)
11 October 2017 | Malaga
After a good night's rest, we drove to Malaga along the coastal highway. The road is incredible - huge tunnels through the mountains, viaducts high over dry river beds, some mountains sliced like a cheese wheel to allow the road through. The mainly dry mountains are scattered with greenhouses on plots that have been levelled out.
Solving the usual problem of where to park the car, we set about exploring on foot, after a lunch of tapas opposite the old roman theatre. (The Roman theatre had been buried for centuries, built over, and was only excavated commencing 1950's.) I explored the Alcazabar while G waited - she thinks anything after Alhambra isn't worth visiting. Miles of the town centre is closed to traffic, making it a great place to explore on foot. Once again the cathedral is just breathtaking in it's size, design, engineering, and decoration.
Malaga is the birthplace and childhood home of Picasso, so day 2 we visited the the Picasso museum after spending an hour selecting the best place for coffee and cakes. I may be a philistine, but I have never been a big fan of Picasso.
Back to Almerimar along the coastal highway, some shopping since we had a car to carry it, and home again to relax late afternoon. Malaga and Granada are both fabulous cities to explore if you are ever down this way - I have a slight preference for Granada, though being set at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the weather is not as good as the seaside Malaga.
11 October 2017 | Granada
We hired a car for 4 days and decided we would do 2 days in Granada, then 2 days in Malaga. Rather than take the main road to Granada, I thought it would be more interesting to drive over the Sierra Nevada; these are the originals of course, not the US namesakes. Mostly barren, and decorated with an expected narrow winding road, we crossed over without incident, arriving at the town of La Calahorra, with it's dominant Moorish castle.
Getting lost in Granada, we decided to take lunch of tapas outside the town bullring, which we had stumbled into. Of course parking in these ancient towns and cities is a huge problem, and having found our accommodation in the old jewish quarter, had to drive down to the river to leave the car, so we could explore on foot.
Walking the streets for several hours I got a nice feeling about this town, or is it a city? It reminds me somewhat of the English university towns. The buildings are old and beautiful, with shops and restaurants both classy and eclectic. The cathedral is huge with the narrow surrounding streets full of street wares and buskers. The town centre has a huge statue of Queen Isabel I giving Christopher Columbus his commission to go find India by a shorter route, which happened here in Granada, at the palace of Alhambra.
We spent the next day at Alhambra - 5 hours queuing to get in and 4 hours inside; it is the 2nd busiest tourist destination in Spain. Alhambra was built and re-built by a succession of Muhammed's and Yusef Moorish rulers dating from 1237 who all added to it and built their own palaces inside. Queen Isabel I claimed it as hers in 1492 after the catholics threw out the Moors. The geometric gardens with the water courses are magnificent, protected by the huge fortifications, walls and turrets. The photo's tell the story.
Contracting the services of Mrs Google, we took the main route back "home" to Almerimar.
25 September 2017 | Almerimar
Well, we have a huge change of plans. We originally planned to stay here for a few days, however, all that has changed; we have now decided to stay here for the winter.
There are a number of reasons for the change of plans:
1. We have some damage to sails etc and need to get all this fixed.
2. My original sail plan was the use the gennaker and main sail for the Atlantic crossing, however, experience this summer has shown that this is nnot a good config. So I will have to re-configure the sails and rigging for the down wind Atlantic sailing.
3. Over the past month or so we have rushed to meet the "timetable" for crossing, and consequently have had little time for sight-seeing. We'd really like to travel around Spain some more.
So have decided to stop here and set off again next April. This has another couple of advantages:
1. With more time next year, we can cruise up the coast of Portugal and spend more time in Morocco and Canary Islands before the crossing.
2. Another eventuality since arriving is that G has become an Australian resident! Part of this residency is that she has to enter Australia before June next year. So it makes sense that we return to Australia for a month or so this (northern) winter. We haven't worked out where and when we will go yet, but we will try to visit as many of our Aussie friends as possible.
So that is now our rough plan. Since arriving here, G has had her birthday party, which fortunately, we had a few other cruisers we know here at that time to join in the celebration - Biosou, Anori and Ventus.
I have now taken all the sails and lazy bag off the boat and started talking to riggers and sail-makers about those jobs etc.
Almerimar is not a bad place to winter - it's "cheap and cheerful". According to the cruiser's website, Noontide, "Whilst not the most attractive of stopovers, Almerimar is inexpensive, it has fuel, a real supermarket, plenty of good restaurants, reliable internet, and a repair and services environment conducive to cruisers. A good choice for getting work done on your boat and perhaps a good spot for wintering your boat as costs are low."
The weather is mild - presently in the mid to high 20's each day, and I expect the winter will be a little like Melbourne; perhaps a little milder.
We took the bus to Almeria driving through the miles of greenhouses on the bus from Almerimar. Almeria is a nice town with a huge wide boulevard down the middle. Being southern Spain and moorish, Abd-ar-Rahman III founded the Alcazaba (the Citadel), and gave the city its name: Al-Mari'yah (Watchtower). It suffered many sieges and fell to Christians in 1489. In 1522, Almería was devastated by an earthquake and rebuilding and recovery didn't really get underway until the 19th century. During the Spanish Civil War, the city was shelled by the German Navy, and fell to Franco in 1939. It has since rebuilt its economy around vegetable production, with 100,000 acres of greenhouses, supplying much of Europe. The alcazaba, provided the city, not only with walls and towers but also with squares, houses and a mosque, was to be also the seat of the local government, commanding the city and the sea nearby. Many movies have been made here including scenes from Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Conan the Barbarian, and more recently, Game of Thrones. It's hard for my humble pix taken on the iPhone to do it justice - a great but tiring day visiting.
I won't post blogs very frequently from now on, as you all now know where we are and what we are doing. I may post some blogs after we have done trips to places.
Thanks to all of you who have sent me comments on our travels this summer. Best wishes to all.