Peter’s Paragliding Nomadness
April 17, 2007
Tina told me where to go and I followed her directions as she led me to the sea, turn by turn. At Salou, I checked out a very pleasant campsite, right in town, that would be a great place to spend a few weeks. I had no intention of staying, I just wanted to see what such places were like. If you like Spanish holiday towns, and not everyone does, this would be an oasis in the middle of the action.
The moment of truth arrived. My first tank of diesel. I would finally be able to calculate the fuel efficiency of this old Citroen C15D. I was delighted to see that I got 39.5 mpg on my first tank. Given that a portion of that was city driving and a fair bit was climbing mountains, it looks like this 1991 engine is still pretty efficient.
I was lucky to stumble upon a parking lot by the beach, just east of Santa Pola, where there were several motorhomes parked. It looked like a great spot to spend the night. A clean paseo along the edge of the beach was ideal for an 8 km walk before retiring for the night. The gentle lapping of the waves on the beach lulled me to sleep.
April 18, 2007
At a small panaderia, I picked up bread for lunch and a pan chocolate for breakfast, which I ate while reading my morning emails, thanks to an open WiFi connection.
Further along the coast, I happened upon a huge morning market just outside Torrevieja. I had already decided that I needed some sandals, as it was getting warmer as I headed south. This looked like just the place to find them. It was. I found the sandals and picked up some bananas and strawberries for later.
No sooner had I put the sandals on my feet than it begin to rain. By the time I reached the Mar Menor, it was pouring. Lunch would be served inside this time. I was looking forward to revisiting the Mar Menor as we spent several days there on Tusom, our Catalac 27 catamaran, 20 years ago.
Ever since I told my friends Sven and Karin about my interest in paragliding, I had been hearing about Manolo, the Cómpeta mechanic, who flies over the town. Finally, I would get to meet the legendary pilot who introduced paragliding to this remote Andalucian village. Manolo is reputed to play continuous videos of paragliding on the TV in his garage.
Manolo is the proud father of Javier Tejeiro Lopez, a highly ranked Spanish acro pilot and he wasted no time showing me the certificates and awards he had displayed on the garage walls.
A couple of days were spent parawaiting, which is not difficult in this picturesque area. Finally the weather cleared enough to make the 5 minute trip to the local launch worthwhile. Manolo launched himself competently from the field of wild flowers with fences on each side and climbed steadily over launch.
The LZ is visible in the center of the picture. A small field surrounded by power lines, roads, and houses. Manolo's younger son, Manolo, joined him in the air for a short flight and just happened to throw in a helicopter and some acro flying meters from the ground, while he was at it.
Although conditions were pretty much ideal for the site, I decided that I would leave this one to the locals.
There are some great launches in the high surrounding mountains, but the conditions were not good enough to warrant the long drive up. Perhaps on another trip I will get to see them.
There are more pictures in the Photo Album