11/10/2018 Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward is nomadonanomad

Is my Spanish improving I wonder? At times I think so, but then I think not. Just a few days ago I was in a place called Valverde de Burguillos, having some ‘Gasolina Bicicletta’, and as I was about to leave I asked the guy behind the bar the usual question about how far it was to the next town on my chosen route, which was called Fregenal de la Sierra. I knew how far it was, but I’m practising ok?

Then the more important question regarding whether it’s uphill or not. I can’t seem to remember the Spanish for uphill so I make the gesture and wait for the reaction. Gesture made, and I’m waiting for his reaction but nothing. Zip. Didley squat. All he did was come out with a mass of Spanish at incredible speed that I had no hope of understanding. He went on for about 3 or 4 minutes and at the end I was none the wiser so I just nodded, thanked him profusely, and left.

After getting to Fregenal de la Sierra, I thought back to what he’d said and could I have understood it if he’d spoken more slowly. The journey would have given me a clue. 23 kms of sheer hell told me that what he’d been saying could have only been one of the following, and when my Spanish gets better I’ll know just which one.

  1. Do the English authorities let people like you out alone?

2. Are you a complete muppet?

3. You need to get a mechanic to put an engine on your bike!

4. Senor, in Spanish, ‘de la sierra’ means ‘on top of very high shit’.

5. You need a better pair of legs than those.

6. They have a defibrillator there, if you make it.

7. And you English laugh at Manuel in Fawlty Towers?

8. You need to finish the crate of gasolina bicicletta.

9. Senor, it is even harder than trying to unsubscribe from Pinterest!

Another time, another bar. It’s not a pub crawl, honestly, it’s the sugar I need to keep the pedals turning, not the alcohol, but beer is cheaper than bloody fruit juice! (My story and I’m sticking to it) The town was called Bejar, and having consulted my nomination for ‘Chocolate Teapot of the Year 2018’, i.e. google maps, the decision was made to head for a place called Candelario. No real reason why, it was just in the right direction and I’m now making this journey up as I go along.

The bar owner was a nice guy who had plied me with tapas along with some lunchtime Mahou. It’s a beer, and the sign that advertises it I can now spot from several kilometres away. (Plug for laser eye surgery there) So I ask him the question of how far and he immediately tells me 4 kms which, of course I know as I’ve checked. Then I make the gesture which can only be, ‘is it uphill?’. Well, his eyes light up and a huge smile comes to his face, and he says, ‘Si Senor’ as though he’s very pleased to tell me what he thinks I want to hear, as if I suddenly have developed the look of a masochist.

Blimey, he was right. The first kilometre was pushing all the way up a 6 or 7% grade. The 2ndkilometre I was able to ride,  but very very slowly and only because my pushing muscles had given up. The 3rdand 4thkilometres were just bloody awful and naturally finished with the steepest bit leading into the village, with bars, i.e. safe havens for beleaguered travellers, that I could see but they just seemed to be getting further away instead of nearer.

The first bar had tables outside and a couple were sitting there enjoying a relaxing drink and, I’m sure, the sight of some idiot pushing a bicycle up a bloody mountain. I’m sure it made their drinks taste better. Eventually I got there, just as a waiter appeared outside, and as I slumped into a chair he came out with the usual, Si Senor’.

I was so out of breath that, for the first time in my life I was unable to say ‘beer’. I just couldn’t get it out! Fortunately, the guy at the next table, who had witnessed my struggle, held his beer bottle up and I was able to point at it so the waiter understood. Moral of the story. I could have been fluent in any language or dialect in the world, and yet unable to do the simple task of ordering a beer!

When I have a Wi-Fi connection, they pronounce it ‘wiffy’ here, which still makes me laugh, I try to practise my Spanish using the ‘Duolingo’ app, which is a good start and seems to help. Of course, the Spanish it comes out with is of the most basic kind, but when I turn the speaker up the locals get a huge laugh as they hear stuff like, ‘she needs three pens’ and ‘my dogs eat meat’. At least it starts conversations from which I probably learn more. Most importantly if folks think you’re trying to learn their language their tolerance and acceptance of foreigners seems to go through the roof. As it should!

Another place I called in at was Encinasola. Another small town/village, obviously not used to tourists, and where, just like everywhere else I’d been to in Spain, no English was spoken. It was morning so ‘café con leche’ was ordered, too early for beer, and I sat down and tried to make the decision of where to head to next and, as usual, I was getting stared at by all the locals.

Where I was sitting was by the window where my bike was parked just outside and very quickly a small crowd of the ‘gentlemen retirees’ who weren’t inside had gathered. It was obvious that an animated, but good natured argument was in full flow about my bike. I was intrigued but in no hurry to finish my coffee so I decided to let them get on with it. When I eventually came out of the bar the questions flew thick and fast, but far too quickly for me.

When the pointing began it soon became clear that one of the guys had been suggesting that the dynamo on my front hub was, in fact, an electric motor and all his mates had been giving him a hard time because they disagreed. When I explained that it wasn’t  and that I was the motor, and not a very good one at that, he took loads of abuse, the poor guy. I wonder if he’s still getting stick for that?

Anyway, enough for now, but thanks as always for reading his far and may your God go with you.

Simon ‘Wardy’ Ward.







2 Responses

  • Un saludo desde Coripe, Teacher andrés

    • Hi Andres, Mucho gusto en Coripe! Also Jesus. I will be back sometime around the 25th or 26th. I will let you know as soon as I know when, and book your Casa Rural again.I hope I can stay 2 days, but I have been delayed by the rain in Setenil. Andalusia is tough cycling! The climb up to Olvera was hard, but the ride along the old railway was superb. Thanks for everything and hope to see you next week. Simon.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *