Silent footsteps on the sandy path remind me of some kind of spooky night time adventure as I make my way through the darkness following the footpath by the moonlight. I glance at the purply pink hue on the horizon to check that dawn is coming.
The cool light breeze doesn’t mask the fact that all around me are strange noises of the night which are a little scary even if you can identify some of them. The vegetation is not familiar and in the half-darkness even slightly frightening. Cactus plants as well as pita and eucalyptus trees guard the footpath to the beach. The shimmering light in the distance is the moon reflected on the bay‘s inky looking water which rhythmically rolls towards the shadowy beaches. I am walking in what is said to be the only desert on the European mainland and when you walk into its wilderness you understand that it is really a desert.
As the subtle colours of dawn slowly turn into weak sunlight the shadows are no more and I can see hares(yes hares in a desert!) darting into the cactus for cover and further down the path a a couple of foxes are stopped at a crossroads in the path surrounded by exotic looking trees as they stand stock still staring in my direction to see if I go in theirs. Upon seeing my intention of invading their territory they turn and trot in a relaxed but purposeful manner towards the hills at the end of the bay where somewhere they have their den.
I skirt the main beach. The wide sandy expanse here is in the shape of a crescent and is now visible, wide and sandy and deserted except for a lone yacht at anchor two hundred metres out into the bay, riding the small waves in the semi-darkness and in silence. No-one awake onboard. I then climb a small headland by way of a stone(volcanic looking) strewn path which takes me down to a long narrow sandy beach with rocks and cliffs for a backdrop.
As I reach the sand I take off my shoes and feel the cold sand on the soles of my feet. Walking along at the edge of the surf, just where the waves lap against the beach I walk leaving footprints which when I look back remind me of Robinson Crusoe type prints receding in the distance.They are the only ones visible along the beach and as I look back I definitely have a feeling of being completely on my own on one of Spain’s best beaches and in July; and not just on my own but in a positively wild and isolated place.
There is probably no one within 3 or 4 kilometres, maybe on one of the beaches a couple of sleeping baggers, but as I dive into the sea for a quick dip I am conscious of the dangers of swimming on one’s own. The cold and refreshing water brings a surprising shock to the system.
The water here on this desert coast is strangely cold. According to a local fisherman it is because there are currents of very cold water that come in from the Atlantic deep down in the sea and surface off the coast after hundreds of kilometres travelling into the Mediterranean. Nice theory but not sure if it is true.
After the swim, I walk back with that fresh tingling feeling all over my body and wind my way through the pita trees on cool sandy paths which eventually lead to the edge of town after an hour´s walk.
There are not many places on mainland Spain were you can see such desert wilderness so near to mankind and in such a totally unique environment.
The strange plants, the flowers, the reptiles and the amazing variety of birds such as Bonelli’s Eagles,sparrow hawks and countless smaller birds. I love visiting this wonderland and it never ceases to surprise me that it is a desert and it is on mainland Europe. For me it is a desert that is an oasis.Does that make sense?
The Spanish Thyme Traveller offers trips to SE Spain specialising in Valencia and Teruel.