Monday, August 27, 2007

Mountain bikes and markets

My cousin, Michael, and I decided to rent a couple of mountain bikes as he had done so in the past and enjoyed the experience. Being an avid bicycle rider (in the distant past) I was liking the idea and pictured a leisurely ride along the coast checking out the sites and shooting some pics, after all that´s why I am here. Michael obviously had other ideas when he pointed to a distant mountain top almost obscured by haze and announced ¨that is where we are going- Cape Formentor¨. I first thought he had said Cape Tornmentor which seemed the perfect name. Now I am well known for my enthusiasm and somewhat foolhardiness but very soon, I seriously doubted my ability to mount the peak so to speak and I spoke my words of caution but they fell on deaf Welsh ears (thank goodness this quality is one welsh trait I was not born with). So what the heck and not being a quitter, we headed off.

The coast ride was nice despite Mike´s need to race ahead. I simply sauntered behind at my own pace evaluating where the pains were going to first appear. My legs I guessed would be the first to go, perhaps my heart considering my advancing age, no maybe my neck from being hunched over with my head held up by neck sinews. I got it all wrong as it was the slowly developing blisters on my back end that started to shout for mercy- the screaming would come later.

We made it to the next village and I stopped for a chocolate croissant- fuel you know. I offered Mike one and he showed me his small apple and smiled saying ¨this is all I need mate!¨ I wished I could be like him as I devoured the freshly baked, chocolate oozing delicacy. Fueled up we started up the hill that went forever. Again Mike was soon far ahead and I was in the highest gears the bike could achieve and still I continued to slow. It then came to me that I could walk faster than I was pedalling and it would save my derriere as well. So off I got and got into my Pembrookshire rhythm and was soon making good time up the hill. Apart from the fear of cars racing up behind me and the sweat that was making my entire body a walking bath I was doing all right plus I had the added bonus of being able to easily stop for photos. Other bicycle riders would occasionally pass me with friendly hola´s and the occasional bus would also pass me coating my wet body with oily exhaust but what the hell, I am on vacation here and enjoying it.
Miles and hours later, or so it seemed I made the first lookout where Mike was waiting. The plan was to go on to the next and he kept asking me if I really wanted to go. Like as if he really did not want to go because he had practically killed himself doing the first leg but needed me to say no, I am too tired, just to y¡take the pressure off him. I played along to make him feel better and we then hiked up to the lookout with the other couple of hundred refreshed looking tourists to the lookout over the sea and coast. Incredible views and an amazing coast line. What a treat!

The ride back down was at high speed, pedal free, hair in the wind breathlessness. I loved it and managed to break some land speed records doing it. Coasting back into the village we stopped for some fresh zumo- juice and cafe con leches. Then back on the road to home. I manged to develop a new style of riding on the way back, one that allowed me to avoid placing my blistered butt on the wood (or so it felt) seat. Back at the apartment it was time for cerveza´s, a swim, and some bragging to anybody that would listen. The best part was the fact that Michael still complains 3 days later of sore everythings, while I am pain free.

The market in the old town of Alcudia is a site to see. Two days a week the parking lots and city streets fill with stalls, hundreds in numbers. Everything from vegetables to the imported beach vendor useless things is on sale. Mixed in were artisans selling their wonderfully crafted wares. The streets and aisles between vendors is practically impassable at times and I am soon covered in free suntan oil from rubbing up against so many people. I have become a potpourri of oils and smells. Despite the variety and opportunity I buy nothing as I am overwhelmed by variety and people but it has been fun to experience.

The Alcudia beach is another story of crowds and colour. The best time to experience it is late in the day when all the tourists have left and the Spanish take over. It is also cooler and quieter. My daily ritual is a walk along the beach with frequent stops at the cafes for some liquid fortification then on again. Once I have gotten as far as I think necessary for the days efforts I turn back again seeking liquid refreshments to keep me liquidated. Sometimes a veer into the ocean and walk7swim out as far as I can go and then float on back with the added buoyancy of the salt water. Then I slowly swim acroos the beach coming into land at my starting point. Not the greatest adventure but sure feels good. Again I have to celebrate this good feeling with another cafe visit to rest from my vigours.

Walking back home from the beach or from the cafe later in the evenings I am continously struck by the colourful display of the tourist´s beach paraphernalia hung on the high rise hotel balconies and every other possible place to dry for the next day´s use. I take photos to illustrate the some what whimsical efect of this tourist art.