Ahhhh... what a lovely day yesterday! The sun was shining, the air was warm (HOT! bloody heatwave thanks to some crazy African wind: 35ºC!), the orange trees in bloom (AMAZING smells!!! like someone had just opened a bottle of orange blossom perfume!)... great day to go on a cycling tour of the Marjal de Pego-Oliva, a 1290 Ha marsh on the border of the Alicante-Valencia provinces (so an hour north of where I live) that has been famous for its rice since the Arabs first came (also lots of oranges and some gorgeous fig trees).
Internet is wonderful! While searching for people to go hiking with, I discovered an ecotourism group (Aestas Ecoturismo) a month or so ago that organises "active" tours in a part of the province of Alicante that I barely know. They do hikes, walks, cycling outings and even take people to do part of the Camino de Santiago (next year perhaps!). Their website proposed a cycling tour for yesterday of this marsh that I've heard lots about over the years, but never been to. Sounded like a great opportunity for a family outing since my sister was here on a surprise visit from the U.K. (well, surprise for my parents)! Plus: cycling through a marshland = FLAT so good (none of us have spent much time on bikes in years!). :p
So just after 10 a.m. yesterday a group of a dozen or so of us were all set for 25 km through this historic marsh, hoping to admire the plant and animal life and get a bit of a workout (and in my sister's case, some sun!)
|photo by Aestas Ecoturismo|
Everyone else had their own bikes, the three of us (my mom couldn't come) enjoyed the group's top quality mountain bikes we rented (although I was envious of one woman's bike, the handle bars were higher up so no bending over).
As you can see in this shot, the rice hasn't been planted yet (otherwise these fields would be flooded, I'll bet the place looks radically different then!), but it looks like they're on the verge of doing so since the soil is tilled:
There were canals all over the place (remains of the maritime bay that was here thousands of years ago, developed by the Arabs when they introduced rice to Spain several centuries ago), usually with a couple of white herons - garza in Spanish - and cormorants. If you click this picture bigger, you can see a heron in the centre near the right bank. I was upset I'd forgotten my zoom lens so don't have any better shots! :o(
Not everything was freshly tilled brown... spots where canals ran into canals surrounded green orange orchards with their tiny white blossoms and were bordered with fig trees or water lilies Iris pseudacorus:
Fortunately for us there were a couple of shaded spots where we could rest (that sun was murder!), like by this freshwater spring called the Ullal de Bullent where we stopped for a snack while the guide told us a bit about the Marjal and the agricultural and conservation projects:
I much preferred the northern part of the Marjal, around the river Bullent where there was less agricultural impact.
And where I could spend a bit of time admiring the flora
|water lilies Iris pseudacorus|
Unfortunately for me, about 15 km into the 25 km outing, we reached a point where we had to cycle through on a slightly elevated walkway where we had to go through slowly and quietly hoping to see birds.
Well, going real slow on a bike makes it harder to keep your balance... and when you put your foot down to steady yourself and the walkway is too narrow, then your foot ends up going further down than you expected and you lose balance. Any guesses as to what happens next?
|the things I do for you guys! wouldn't get up 'till my sis had taken my pic, lol!|
Yup. OUCH!!! That grin on my face is an admission of the ridiculousness of it all, and a defense mechanism from the pain radiating out of my twisted knee. Pain which actually caused me to faint and spend 30s or so out cold. Thankfully everyone was wonderful and they helped me recover and then get out to the road where the group's van picked me up and took me to E.R. Nothing broken (well, not 100% sure yet about the ligaments or meniscus), but hurt and swollen and have to keep my leg bandaged and up for a week (and frequently iced) then see a doctor again on Friday and perhaps get an MRI to make sure everything is ok. It had better be! I have no intention of spending another couple of physically inactive months like I did last year when I seriously twisted my ankle! Soon it will be too hot to go out hiking, and I refuse to miss out on the Alicante spring!!!
Fortunately for me, my sis is a physiotherapist, so she gave me plenty of useful knee advice, and more importantly unwrapped my leg and then re-wrapped it after I got a decent shower this morning. Bandages can't get wet so for the rest of the week I'm stuck with bird-baths. Ugh!!! Here we are grinning over the ice on my knee and waiting to dig into a well-earned arroz abanda after yesterday's outing: