Wednesday, 2 May 2012

One man and his Jamon and its goodbye to Sanobria - April 29

The nearest town to our camp is at El Puenhte and it was there bwe had one of those seminakl moments that make trips like this special. We needed milk (not the fresh kind; that is like gold dust) and were drawn to a shop at the end of the town's plain tree lined street markets. Eloy el cuna de Jamon it said. And insidee there was indeed Jamon - it hung from every available space and was in every stage of aging. The vast majority was Iberico of course. Aha - el cuna! The cradle! But more than the Jamon there was chorizo - short, fat, long, curled, red, purple. And from each Jamon he had ever siolod the coloured tie which is passed through the hock to hang the joint from the rafter he had cut and kept, laced together in a made and proud bundle behind his counter. Eloy, we assumed, was Jamon fat, cheerful, keen to talk (it meant selling) and unable to speak threew wordd witho9ut smiling or laughing or both. of course our weak Spanish meant we knew not what had amused him so. But we laughed or smiled out of neighbourliness. It worked took - he sold us Jamon, a huge and delicious piece of Monchego made with raw milk and finally the milk. I took his picture and that of the Jamons. Just like a ruddy tourist!
We had settled on leaving this site on Sunday and so we did but unexpectedly we were sorry to go. It might have been too cold and too high but it was beautiful, quiet, authentic. Maybe we shall return.
We left to head east almost to Madrid, to a place called Cabrere off the dreadful A1 but close enough to Segovia, Escorial, Avila and maybe even Toledo. The drive was anything but ordinary. Once again I was mildly shocked at my weak undertstanding of Iberian geography. This plateau that I thought was pretty much 500 metres and occupied about 70 per cent of Spain is almost entirely double that in height. We did drop to 800 now and again but only to rise higher soon after. By the time we reached the Sierra Guadarama or the Monte de Madrid we were ready for it but 1400 metres is a long way up even from 800. The drive up to the pass - Puerto del Somosierra - was steep by autoroute standards. Given my nervousness after last year's events and that I had a 300 kg heavier van behind me I admit to being a bit tense. But we crested at 50 m.p.h which was at that point technically illegal.
The site we arrived at is everything we hate in continental camp sites. It has about 300 permanent units, most of which are no longer caravans but cabins and about 50 scrubby plots for us itinherants. But it will have to do for a week or so while we do our targets and maybe even essay the park and ride into Madrid - not my favourite idea. There is some amazing contryside nearby - including a range of hills called the Cabrere (goatlands) which are a craggty double for the hills of the same name that are the backdrop to Mojacar, where we wintered twice. But the pitch we have was a drive in, drive out job so my recalcitrant motor mover will not trouible me here.
Our route back through France is under discussion; we both have favourite places so there will be some horse trading!

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