The Chronicles of Nerja: 26. North and South

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In the previous post, I described the ferry journey from the UK with my dog Luca. Having arrived in Spain early Tuesday morning, the first task was to get out of Bilbao. It has been a while since I’ve driven on the right, and what seemed like an endless series of roundabouts offered a white-knuckle learning opportunity. To be fair, I did go around a couple of these a few times.

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On the outskirts of the city we came to a toll station. Only one lane had a booth with a human operator and I couldn’t move across the traffic to get to it. So, I ended up jumping out of the car to work out what to do with a machine made for drivers of left-hand-drive vehicles. The display demanded 1.18 euros. I reached into my pocket and found I had 1.19 euros in change. Another good omen added to the one where the border policeman allowed us to circumvent immigration and carry out a sanctioned motoring offence 20 minutes earlier.

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My phone’s SatNav got me out of Bilbao and onto the motorway, but after 200 kilometres my service provider blocked it due to a data limit that I was unaware of. With no access to data I was unable to change the limit or use the phone and SatNav. Fortunately, I’d printed the directions from a route planner so could navigate the last 800 kilometres the old-fashioned way. It was relatively straight forward as the motorways in Spain are excellent, especially the toll roads in the north. These aren’t cheap but they are a joy to drive on. The traffic is light because people don’t want to pay.

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However, I NEVER want to negotiate Madrid’s ring road system again. I’d describe it to you but the nightmares about huge trucks with honking horns and insane drivers have only just stopped. I’ve never seen such dense traffic move at such speed, crossing multiple lanes with no consideration for braking distances. It was like being in a stunt display team - having missed all the rehearsals.

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From north to south, the dog and I drove through snow-topped mountains and sunny plains on the 1000-kilometre journey to the Mediterranean coast. We covered the distance in 13 hours and he was the perfect companion.

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On arrival in Nerja we were met by M and her dog. We introduced our canines carefully, away from the house, but they were immediately at ease with each other. I unloaded the car and the four of us headed for tapas. Of course, we went straight to El Chispa. We were greeted with the usual raucous welcome and it felt like I’d never been away.

The town is much as I left it in the summer, although very quiet now. Some of the bars and shops have changed or disappeared but the most familiar faces and places remain the same.

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I took a day off to re-acclimatise and organise my office space before diving back into work. I had a proper day off on the following Monday. M and I drove west along the coast with the dogs and did some walking. Luca loves the Mediterranean. He has always enjoyed the beach but in Cornwall he was never that keen on the water. He seems to be thriving in the warmer climate and I’m sure it is better for his arthritis.

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He also enjoys being allowed into shops. However, the trip to the butcher’s was a bit overwhelming and he struggled to choose what he wanted.

North and South

So I’m back in paradise, living the dream and being eaten alive by mosquitoes. This town is incredibly proud to be part of the European Union and this manifests during interactions between the indigenous population, tourists and expats. I’ve had two conversations using a combination of English, Spanish and German this week. I love the laid-back multinational vibe here.

North and South

The mentoring and tutoring work continues to build. I’m extremely busy but living a ‘laptop lifestyle’ that gives me the freedom and income I want. I’ll be continuing to share what I’m learning via this blog, as well as how I am able to live this kind of life.

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Ciao for now.

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