Wednesday we saved for a “down day”, but I can’t sit still so there’s really no such thing. After a morning of homework, travel research and writing, I pile the gang into our trusty Opel and we twist down east through the greenhouses and their crops of peppers, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, avocado, pears, mangoes and other tropical produce… a testament to the welcome climate here. Our objective is Playa La Rijana, a quiet cove recommended by our Villa host.
Overcoming my family’s their inertia and objections I manage to talk them down to the beach, and we find a spot comfortably distant from speedos and bare breasts – this is Europe. But the cove is lovely and the clouds are thinning… the boys obediently break out their kindles and I bide my time. After the sun clears the clouds and we’re good and toasty, I grab my goggles and slip off to the east cliffs to swim in the surge and explore the sea life. The water’s cold but clear and fish are plentiful – a good sign for tomorrow’s planned scuba outing. To warm up I swim back west across the cove, and of course the boys are now curious, so it’s much easier to lure them into the water. We start with skipping stones, then they discover a rock they can jump off into the surf, and my job is done… they’re wet, and somehow the water isn’t so cold anymore.
Saturated and sated we climb up and pile into the Opel, swing by massively convenient Al Campo for some Albariño, cheese and bread, and twist on up past the wind turbines to our Villa. It’s warm and the wind turbines are still so I jump in the pool for a quick swim; we get the boys showered and work in some online writing before setting the table. Early to bed tonight… tomorrow’s a big day on the Alboran sea, with scuba and sailing in the plans.
I’m up early Thursday to ease the transition, so we depart on-time for the one hour drive down to the relaxed seaside town of La Herradura. Max and Sue elect to skip this scuba, so they drop Ben and me off… we meet our Buceonatura divemasters and the other divers, two elderly British ex-pats. Fit and geared up in 7 mil wetsuits – it’s gonna be colder than Colombian diving – we van over Punta de la Mona to pretty little Marina Del Este, where we load gear and ourselves into a long yellow zodiac. Then we motor back around the Punta de la Mona to a sheltered dive spot and splash in.
Cold indeed! We’re glad for the thick suits, hoodies and booties, and once the 16 celsius shock passes, we settle in and submerge. The water is clear but shaded, so dark. It’s good diving by Mediterranean standards, with interesting rock walls and plenty of sea cucumbers, stars, anemones, scorpionfish and a variety of colorful species. Our divemaster does a fine job of pointing out funky little creatures, and we spot a few larger fish hiding in the rocks, but no octopi, shellfish or sunfish.
Back on the breach we reconnect with Max and Sue for a local seafood lunch, then make our way back over to the Marina for our next adventure, sailing. We’ve booked with Sukisailing for an afternoon on a 34’ sloop. Captain Keith is a quiet Liverpoolean. He’s welcoming and teaches the boys about sailing as we tack west past La Herradura’s beaches and coves. Along the cliffs we admire seldom-occupied villas, and eventually make our way past a waterfall to a snorkelling spot. It’s cold so we keep it brief, but at least Max gets to see some fishies and so shows some interest in our earlier dive. Later Sue and I hop in the dinghy for a quick paddle into a local grotto, then we sail snoozily back to the marina, and with some helpful tips from Keith we find the town’s best pizza joint before the drive back to our Villa.
Friday is a lazy transition day… I sweep and do laundry while the family sleeps in, then we take advantage of the space and wireless to get more homework, travel planning and blogging in. In the heat of the afternoon we brave the cool pool, then secure the Villa and begin the 2hr drive back to Malaga. Sue and I squeeze the boys at the functional but soulless Holiday Inn Express, then return to town for an excellent tapas and wine session at Meson de Cervantes – Sue can pick em’. They’re up gaming when we return at 10:30, so I tuck and duck out to print off a raft of reservations at the business center. Manana salimos Andalucia para Catalunya…