There is a photo call with Dave and Jeni, and then we have to depart this oasis of joy … to stay with Dave and Jeni is to be in the most nurturing, comfortable and fun company you can imagine.
Wednesday 8th March 2006 – Recuperation
I’m pleased again today, for Wayne is off on a long valley walk, intending to cover some of the ground we’d have covered on our exit from Trevelez and Pitres. I am concerned that he doesn’t feel this trip has been wasted on account of my troubles. He is stoic, totally supportive and appears to bear everything with a smile, but underneath I sense some restlessness. He needs to be active, and I am delighted he can be.
The morning sun seems hotter today. Dave and Jeni have some business in Orgiva, and I settle on the balcony with plenty of toast. Yesterday I had begun to read Dan Goleman’s book, and I continue that. I slap on some sunscreen and slurp my way through a couple of litres of orange juice. I’m enjoying serenity for its own sake today: no reflection or philosophical thinking, just being.
Wayne returns, appearing down the terraces from the acequia after a satisfying walk, and takes another trip into Orgiva to check the bus times for tomorrow’s homeward journey. Tiredness kicks in again for me, and I slip off into a half-sleep in the sun. I give up on Dan Goleman; he can wait until home. After another glorious supper with Jeni and Dave, James comes in from next door with his sitar. He and Dave (percussion) are performing an open-mike slot at the festival for the spring equinoxe next week and need some rehearsal. They say it is rough, but it sounds great. Spontaneous live music has an energy all of its own that permeates among the players and the audience as participants in something good.
Thursday 9th March 2006 – Leaving the Oasis
Advance information says we don’t have to catch a bus until mid-afternoon, so today gives us an opportunity to enjoy Orgiva’s vibrant market. The town is full of new-age travellers and an eclectic mix of nationalities and lifestyles, and most is on show on market day. We grab a halfway lift with Jeni and wander into town slowly.
I’m feeling a little better today, and am able to share in more conversation and laughter than at any time since before the ascent. Wayne and I share thoughts around the market about buying gifts. I always look for something to take home for the kids, but never find anything appropriate. For Carolyn, however, there is an abundance of choice; I find a belt and some earrings and some t-shirts, all of which I know she’ll love. Wayne appears to find the process more difficult, but buys some earrings for Carrie.
We indulge another coffee in the Moroccan cafe Baraka with Jeni, and I spot a big yellow Moto-Guzzi right next to our table. It’s just like the one Wayne used to own and he hasn’t seen it, so knowing he’ll erupt with glee when he does I don’t tell him. I was right. He photographs it on his phone and makes it into wallpaper. His trip is now complete 🙂 Now we must return to Tijola to pack.
There is a photo call with Dave and Jeni, and then a few hugs with the little doggie guys, and then we have to depart this oasis of joy. I imagine having to have spent this week (and the first part of week one) on a campsite, cooking on a little stove, trying to recuperate and coming to terms with the discomfort of everything.
Now I love camping more than almost anything, but to stay with Dave and Jeni is to be in the most nurturing, comfortable and fun company you can imagine, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Yes I am truly grateful, and we are both sad to be leaving.
The Alsina Graells bus is on time, and as we travel past Lanjarron with the sun warm through the bus window, I still feel the energy of the Alpujarras pulsing though me. Another few days here might do my health a world of good. Soon we are back on the motorway, and then in the bus station at Granada, and then in a cold and dank mist returning to Malaga. I sleep on the bus, and lose enthusiasm.
The little hostal near Malaga’s bus station is comfortable, but the cough is worse than ever. We shower and set about finding food. There seems to be no decent restaurants here, only smoky bars offering small tapas and football, not a diet that has any appeal at this time. We eventually find a slightly-more-exclusive-than-our-dress-deserves restaurant, slightly too far away from the hostal, that provides a grand steak and chips. But I am unable to do it justice. Accompanied by numerous cervezas this would normally have been a fitting end to an expedition, but maybe my lack of appetite is a fitting end to this one, in its own strange way.
Friday 10th March 2006 – Back in the Jug Agane
Up, out, coffee and doughnut in a bar, airport bus, airport, SleazyJet. Little more can be said about the return. I sleep on the plane. A thought comes to me as we drift out of Gatwick, and nearly induces a rant about plastic commercialism in the airport shops, creating every opportunity to rid you and me of our money. But I hold it off, preferring to maintain my serenity. I hug Carolyn long. The parting from Wayne is too brief given the support he has given me these past two weeks, but then I know we’ll share it all over a beer in good time.
May 2006 Epilogue
It was another four weeks on anti-biotics for a severe chest infection before I would feel well enough to do anything at all, including our debrief in the pub. In that time there has been much more reflection. On 17th April, five weeks after hauling myself down from the Sierra Nevada, I managed to complete a 25 mile bike ride with few ill effects. But I am still not right, having suffered a significant relapse with a secondary infection at the end of April, and I so long for a warm Summer. So much has been going through my head during the last seven weeks. I am not accustomed to being unwell. I push myself to achieve, to multiply my energy and my love in every way I can. And in doing so, maybe I have tended not to listen to my body quite enough. Small signs become submerged under the schedule of what needs to be done today, or tomorrow, or next week. In other words, the present moment is missed often. Only time will tell me the lasting effects of this minor interlude, but it has been an interesting exercise to write it down. A favourite quote, from several anonymous sources:
I never really know what I think until hear what I say. And one other thing – I made almost no photographs. Some of those I did make appear on these pages, and will have a showcase soon enough. But the memory of this expedition, for better or for worse, will never leave. … Ken To Wayne for your unflinching and selfless support and care; To Jeni and Dave, dear Fruitbats, for your wonderful, loving hospitality; To Carolyn and the boys for being so patient with me over several weeks of my inactivity.