March 29, 2015: Exploring Town on Foot

We are obviously still suffering from jet lag, to some degree.  Everyone slept in until ten thirty and only woke up then because Liesl was awake and tried to sneak down the stairs but she woke us up because it is hard to be quiet on the metal spiral staircase.  Liesl came down and climbed into bed with us for a little bit.  Shortly thereafter Luciana came down and climbed into bed with us as well.

We started the day, as late as it was, up on the upper terraza enjoying the sun.  It is bright and warm today.  Very nice for sitting outside.  We thought about going for a drive somewhere but mostly decided that we just wanted to relax today, especially as going somewhere might mean that things would be closed seeing as it is Sunday.

We talked about what we are going to do next weekend because we really need to be “on the ball” for our weekends because there is really limited opportunity for us to do things and if we wait until Saturday morning to start making plans, it is too late.  One of the problems with the Spanish siesta culture, which is still very strong here in Andalucia, is that if you drive somewhere in the morning you arrive in the middle of the afternoon when people are just shutting down for a few hours.  So you end up with nothing to do until five or so which means that it is basically evening before you do anything even if you start early in the morning.  This also means that if you want to do dinner or anything and then to drive home that it will be extremely late and you might be getting home at four in the morning or something crazy like that.

So we decided that for next weekend that we are going to go to Arcos de la Frontera on the Atlantic Coast in the Cádiz province.  Arcos de la Frontera is one of those “must see” towns of Andalucia and highly recommended by Rick Steves as well.   It is considered the most beautiful of the “white villages” and it is also well known for its Holy Week activities including a major procession on Saturday and a running of the bulls on Easter Sunday.  We really want to see all of that so we are booked at a Bed and Breakfast there for Friday and Saturday nights so that we can really get a chance to see everything there.

We are going to leave Cáñar on Friday morning and drive to the coast before work. Then I will work from Arcos on Friday evening.  It will be a light day for us with just a drive and then dinner in the town.  Then we will have all day Saturday and Sunday in Cádiz province which will be really fun and cool.  It was on our list of places that we really needed to see before coming to Spain so we are quite excited to get to see it.

Dominica felt like spending the day reading a book on her iPad up on the terraza.  The girls were happily entertaining themselves.  I felt like seeing the village a bit more so I took the GoPro and the Nikon AW100 and set off for an adventure around Cáñar.  I walked all over the village today logging about five miles according to my iPhone’s pedometer.  That does not sound like a lot until you see the continuous elevation changes that I was subjected to.  I was pretty tired by the end of it all.

My first outing was just to film, in Ultra High Def 4K for the first time, some of the streets and alleys of the village.  That alone was quite entertaining as the houses and streets are really beautiful and interesting.  You never know where a little back street will take you.  Maybe a dead end, maybe to a vista, maybe out of town or maybe to a plaza.  My first outing led me to discover the village school, a major new construction that is a huge observation deck on the lower “point” of the village sticking out into the valley and the “big” playground in the village that we did not know even existed.  It was a very informative walk and going to be really useful to us to know where this stuff is.

I was very amazed to discover that this little village, that seems so stuck in the 1600s, has active construction going on and quite a bit of it.  This new observation area construction is a very large public work for such a small village.  This is not at all something that I was expecting to find.  They do not have any hotel or tourism infrastructure so this is really for the locals and a scale that you would never see in the US.  The amount of public works in such a small place is really impressive.  Not only is this current, but even on a Sunday people were out working on it.

I came home for a bit then went out again.  This time I found my way out of town the “back way” to the east which turned out to be the GR7 – the big walking path that leads through the region.  This is basically a “foot highway” like nothing you ever see in the States.  This is well maintained, well marked and in some cases well paved with better construction that most American roads.  Like the other construction in town that I saw, this foot path had some of the largest infrastructure work going on that I have seen including another observation deck far outside of town and a brand new fountain being installed.  And all this so recent that some of the concrete was visibly still drying!  There is a lot of new construction going on in such a tiny place.

The walk up the GR7 was really cool.  I did not go too far but went far enough to leave sight of the village and go around the bend of the mountain so that I was in the “zone” of the next three villages.  It was a neat walk and I got to know the area quite a bit better from it.

I went back to the village and did more exploration and filming there.  I really managed to see a lot of the east side and lower portions of the village.  There are so many interesting little streets and plazas and hidden little things here and there, especially with all of the water that pours through town.  That water, running off of the mountain, supplies all of our drinking water which is awesome as the water is always cold and delicious.  It feeds all of the fountains which are all over town too.

After I was back for a while and snacked on bread and cheese we took the girls out to check out the new playground.  This was rather a long way for them and over some rough streets but they did really well.  It was awesome that I learned about this today because this made it far easier for us to get the girls out and to get some exercise.

The bigger playground is not all that big, but much bigger than the one high up in the village near the church and the bar.  This one has a large slide, two swings, some better bouncy things that the girls like to ride and a few things to climb on.  It’s very good for a village of this size.  The girls were really excited and had a great time playing on it.

I had to take Luciana on a long walk back up the hill, which she did great on, to use the bathroom because she forgot to go before we went down to the playground.  That she managed the walk alone was impressive and that she did it while not having an accident was even more impressive.  She got a lot of hill climbing in today.  I am very proud of her.

When Ciana and I returned to the playground where Dominica had stayed with Liesl we found it full of kids.  One local boy had joined Liesl and was playing with her and three families and their kids from Granada were there so there were easily ten kids on the playground.

The girls had a wonderful time playing with all of the kids.  They were very happy.  Dominica and I spent half an hour or more, maybe even an hour, hanging out with other parents who spoke some English, and we attempted some Spanish.  They were all from Granada.  One of their spouses commutes daily from Granada to work in the national park here.

Once we had had enough of the playground we took the girls down to check out the local exercise trail, at Liesl’s request.  There is this really neat and well done exercise trail that starts at the bottom of town on the side of the road leading into the village and goes for some ways.  It is extremely attractive and well done and very surprising to find in a place like this.  I have never seen anyone using it and can’t imagine that it is very popular. It feels completely out of place but is really nice and extremely modern.  Liesl and Luciana had a great time checking out the equipment on it.

From there we walked all the way up the hill again and took the girls to the small, upper playground so that they could play on the few bouncy things there.  The girls have given names to the equipment there (the cat is Lula, the elephant is Luna or something like that) and they want to visit them every day.  They are so weird.

After that we came home and Dominica made dinner for everyone.  Breaded tuna steaks and pasta with broccoli for us.  The girls at inside, Dominica and I ate out on the lower terraza.  It was dark by the time that we were eating.

After dinner Dominica sent me to the market which was still open even though it was nine in the evening to pick up some dessert.  She was hoping for ice cream which they advertise on their door but they had none so I just brought home some chocolate instead.  Milky Bars which you cannot get in the States.

We retired to the lounge as it was getting cold outside.  It was nearly midnight by the time that I managed to get all of the day’s pictures uploaded and SGL updated.  I got some of the days video starting to upload.  The vast majority of the video cannot be uploaded as it is 4K and long format and requires extensive formatting to be useful at all.  I shot enough footage today with the GoPro that it was take nearly a week of around the clock uploading to get it onto YouTube!  That will not be happening.  I have a couple thirty second shots done with the Nikon that are uploading through the night and a couple shorter GoPro things that I made specifically to upload while we are here that I am going to attempt to kick off in the morning before we head out for our morning trip.  So if you are checking the YouTube channel, look for a few short Nikon shots to appear during the Spanish “night” and some more, hopefully, to appear during the American night.

We got the girls to bed around ten thirty.  They have been so sad that their iPads do not work in their own bedroom.  Tonight we are trying them out in the guest bedroom to see if they are able to sleep well there since the iPads work really well there.

Sadly, our old iPad, the “orange iPad” as the girls have long called it because of the orange case that it is in has died.  At least as far as we can tell.  It ran out of battery a few days ago and we have been unable to charge it.  We have tried many outlets, adapters, cables, etc.  We’ve tried connecting it to a laptop.  Nothing, nada.  It looks like after five years it has finally died on us.  Sadly dying in Spain means that we have to make tough decisions about whether to bring it back to the US with us or whether to throw it away here and it really sucks that it is the largest and heaviest of all of the iPads and that we brought it with us, which was a big deal on the planes, just to have it be completely useless the moment that we arrived here!  And, of course, now the girls only have a single iPad of their own which causes no end of issues.  We have to deal with this quickly upon returning to the US.  Luciana was so sad tonight that I gave up and gave her my iPad Mini.  Chances are that is just hers now.  That is a bit of a problem, though, because it does not have a protective cover so I feel like letting the use it is a little bit like just throwing it away.  Not sure what else to do at the moment, though.

Dominica and I managed to get to bed at midnight.  Better than we do most nights.  I am quite worn out from all of today’s hilly walking.