Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sjoerd's visit

During our long stay last winter in Amsterdam, we made good friends with our harbormaster, Sjoerd, and we’ve managed to stay in touch via Facebook and Skype. While Amsterdam was having an even worse winter than the one we experienced, we reiterated an earlier invitation to come and visit us in Spain. Sjoerd, now an avid kite surfer and distributor for Blade Kites, asked me if there were any kite beaches in our area. After a quick search on Google, I replied that there was and sent him a link to kite-surfing site with more information. Soon we got a message that he had booked his flight. Hooray!

After our wet and cold winter and spring, I was concerned that the weather wouldn’t clear up in time for Sjoerd’s visit, but fortunately the days were all at least partially sunny and warm. After the requisite walk through old town Cartagena and visits to the ham departments of the local grocery stores, we started looking for beaches. Sjoerd had brought his kite-surfing gear with him and was ready to go.

We learned a lot about what makes a good kite-surfing beach during Sjoerd’s visit and got to see a lot of the surrounding area that was new to us. The first day we went to the end of La Manga on the Mar Menor and found the kite beaches there but no wind. The next day we visited the beach closest to Cartagena (which isn’t suitable for kiting) and took the scenic route through the petrochemical port with its refineries at Escombreras, the local landfill in an abandoned mining area at Gorguel, and finally to the El Lastre beach by Portmán. Sjoerd was quite taken with this beach, which has black sand, until he read somewhere online that it had been heavily polluted by the local mining operations.

Little beach closest to our marina

Old mine buildings on the way to Portmán

Tiny marina at Portmán

Sunday we went in the other direction and drove to Mazarrón and beyond. There was still no wind, but that was OK because the beaches were mostly rocky and not good for kiting. It was an awfully pretty drive, though.

The three of us on the way to Mazarrón

Beach near Mazarrón

Natural sandstone sculptures near Bolnuevo

Finally, on Monday we went to Cabo de Palos and Los Nietos. I knew there wouldn’t be kiting at Cabo de Palos, but I thought the fishing village there would be interesting. Los Nietos is the place we checked out on our train ride back in February. This time we turned toward the Viva Bar and Restaurant. We had wrongly assumed that it was closed in the winter, and, boy, did we ever miss out then. Viva is at the end of the beach, and they cater to the kite surfing crowd (when it’s there) as well as the expat community. There was a little wind, so Sjoerd decided to get his kite wet and see if the wind would pick up. It didn’t, but Sjoerd made a valiant attempt and then treated us to a steak dinner. Thanks, Sjoerd!

Cabo de Palos

Attempting kite surfing in light air

Despite the lack of wind this trip, Sjoerd liked the area enough that he’s talking about renting a place in or around Los Nietos for a month or two in the winter. And we had fun too!

1 comment:

Terri Potts said...

Wow, you're pictures are incredible and I love reading your blog. Maybe some day we'll get over that way. I'd love to.