Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Garrucha walk

This afternoon, I walked along the coast road to Garrucha. It was warm, sunny and clear with a wind that drew away some of the intensity of the heat, and made it pleasant to be out on that rather exposed road, with no shade from trees, as is the case along much of this coastline. Near the point where Mojacar and Garrucha municipalities meet, the sandy beach gives way to low lying rocky shoreline. There's a 20th century war time relic in the form of a small 'pill box' gun emplacement facing the sea. Given that Puerto Garrucha has been a place from which minerals and building materials have been shipped over the past century, it had strategic importance, and would have needed its observation posts and defensive installations.

A few hundred metres further along, just where the sandy beach resumes, is Garrucha's 18th century castle, built as a defence against Berber pirates raiding from North Africa. It's called El Castillo de Jesu Nazareno, but is also known as El Castilllo de San Ramon, and El Castillo de Escobetas. Each of these names tells part of the story of the place, but there's no information about the building in the public domain. It now serves as a museum of maritime history, but Tuesday is the one day it's closed, so I'll have to make a special expedition there, and hopefully find out more.
There's a kilometre long promenade called El Paseo de Malecon, with palm trees, children's play areas, attractive paving and white balustrades overlooking the beach, a couple of metres below. On the opposite side of the street, a line of bars and restaurants and some low rise hotels. There seem to be few visitors now, and the beach was almost deserted. A few hundred metres beyond a rocky breakwater is the south pointing port wall with a quay where a procession of delivery lorries deposit what I presume to be road stone, for loading into bulk carrying ships for transport.

I watched several small trawlers arrive, belonging to the fleet harboured here. The port has its own modern wholesale fish market, where catches are auctioned daily. There's also a marina for private leisure craft. The place is an interesting mixture of traditional and modern enterprise. Thankfully the industrial dimension of the port doesn't dominate and overshadow the beaches with ugly structures, as I have seen at Playa de la Araña near Malaga, or at the aptly named Playa Cementera, near Les Cases d'Alcanar in Catalunya.

Close to the port there's a Casa Consistorial (Law Court), which looks like a nineteenth century building and an Ajuntamiento (Town Hall), looking decidedly modern, next door. There's a large rather bare modern plaza with few trees. Beneath is an underground car park. May be this public space is still a work in progress. I also found nearby, with a remarkable gateway with a coloured tile roof at the top of a flight of steps, a Mercado de Abastos. This translates as 'supplies market'. I guess 'supplies' means meat, fish and vegetables are retailed here. But, on second thoughts, the word 'provisions' does better in English, as it's used in relation to food stuffs, whereas 'supplies' is used in a non-specific way. Other kinds of shops are advertised within, suggesting market use has been diversified. I couldn't find a church or an Ermita, but these may be further up the hill than I ventured on this occasion.

According to Google Maps, the round trip was 8.5km, five miles. It took me two hours and twenty minutes, but this includes stops for photography en route. At the first roundabout on the approach to Garrucha, there's a large wall which looks like the gable end of a big building, except that it isn't.

Behind it is a hundred metre long stone structure, twenty metres wide, which looks as if it might be the exterior of a roof vault, although at first it could be mistaken for a pile of rubble with vegetation growing from it, and on its north side runs a deep ditch. The site has no identity on the map, no name plate or interpretation panel in the real world. It's been there a long while, but what purpose it serves is a complete mystery. Must find out!

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