My original intention had always been to ride back to Santander via Barcelona and the Catalan Pyrenees in order to see the Lammergeiers. This is no mean feat from my present position in Alicante, and a variety of reasons have prompted a conclusion to the journey here on the Costa Blanca.
It has been a memorable trip, the cast of people surpassing all expectations, the landscapes, wildlife and architecture enthralling. Yet I have seen just a fraction of this country. A return is inevitable, and the Lammergeiers will be waiting (photo courtesy of Google).
Once again the Natural World has captivated by its sheer diversity, from wayside birds to shoals of fish, the countless plants, trees and geological formations. My lack of knowledge in no way lessened the joy of seeing them, the memories indelible. We live on a most remarkable planet.
This has very much been a tale of two Spains. From the mountains of the Asturias to the endless plains of Extramadura, small villages little changed for centuries, and towns of sunlit squares in honey-coloured stone. Palaces, paradors and holy places, Alpujarran streets wandered by working mules led by ancient men, and the intoxicating sight of couples caught by the magic of flamenco. All this I have seen and more. Then the Costas, an homage to the sun and a break from routine. Endless miles of development that lines the coasts to the south, providing jobs to an unsure economy. They too have their place, and the contrast is welcome.
My last bull appeared near Benidorm, standing proudly on its slope. I have come to like these creatures and their association with my own life, a reminder of the passing of the years. Spain has enthralled and surprised in equal measure.
Alicante, February, 2016.