• Day643

    Laguna de los Tollos

    March 31, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    We took a last glance at the Gulf of Cadíz and began our drive northwards and inland. We'd stick to the western border of Spain, leaving Portugal until the Spring of 2020.

    On the way we stopped at a large commercial park and visted Al Campo supermarket for supplies. It was the same shop that we became familiar with in France, but there it was called 'Auchan'. Inside we found a large area devoted to reducing packaging and costs. Many products were loose, including a range of teas and coffees presented in pick n mix dispensers! Vicky scooped up a rooibos chai blend and was a little disappointed when we were required to put it in a plastic bag, but one step at a time eh? The commercial park also contained an IKEA and we made a successful visit to buy a new rug for Poppy and a new recycling box for us. Many large shops provide covered parking in order to keep cars cool in summer, but this IKEA had invested in solar panels to provide shade- we were very impressed.

    The roads were quiet and we didn't pass many settlements. For most of our journey we were surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and Cork Oaks, but approaching our destination, the land flattened out and was divided into fields growing beans, grasses and cereals.

    Laguna de los Tollos was an understated local attraction. We pulled off the gritty country road onto an area of hard, dried mud. The ground was patterned with imprints made by goat or sheep hooves, from when the earth had been saturated and soft.

    Vicky was still feeling sorry for herself after yesterday's fall, so Will had persuaded her to buy a huge cube shaped cake, whose top and bottom were made of puff pastry and whose middle was made up entirely of raw meringue. We enjoyed sharing this, watching the flow of people parking up and making their way along the boardwalk to the lagoon hidden behind reeds and low trees. There were a number of dog walkers, but also families out for easter weekend. To work off the the cake, we too went exploring. When we rounded a bend and caught sight of the water, we noticed a far off flock of birds. Standing in the lagoon, they appeared predominantly white and our first thought was 'Egrets', but looking more carefully we detected a slight pink tinge and realised they must be Flamingos! A three sided wooden hide at the end of the boardwalk provided the best views. The birds were still a long way off, but using the camera's zoom lens we could see their distinctive long, curved necks and big black and pink bills.

    As well as flamingos, we noticed some black and white wading birds, that we later found to be Black Winged Stilts. Highly agile in the air, these elegant birds would strut up and down, poking their long beaks into the soft mud.

    Apart from the occasional lorry rumbling along the road, kicking up dust, it was a quiet evening filled with birdsong. Vicky, who had been on the lookout for loose chai tea for a while, decided to make her own, with cinamon, dried ginger, black pepper, cardamom and fennel. She'll need to perfect the quantity ratios, but it tasted very promising. Life in the van has given us both more time to think about what goes into our food and prompted us to be more resourceful!
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