Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a very British view of life in a small village in Alicante province, my experience of Spain, of Spaniards and sometimes of the other Britons who live nearby. The tabs beneath the header photo link to other blogs written whilst I was living in other parts of Spain, to my articles written for the now defunct TIM magazine and to my most recent photo albums.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Driving home the other way

Now that I work in Cieza my route to work has changed. It's about about 60 kms each way and the journey time - that is the time from when, with seat belt fastened and radio playing I accelerate away from our front gate to the moment I park up outside my workplace - is about 45 minutes. Even with my primitive arithmetical skills I can work out that means I average just 80kph or 50mph.

On the way to Cieza from Culebrón the left from our track onto the main CV83 would be an illegal manoeuvre involving crossing a solid white line and hatched areas. Should the car around the corner be Guardia Civil that would be a 300€ fine and goodness knows how many points off the spotless 15 of my licence. Would I do that or would I be more likely to make the legal right turn, cross into the village, turn around in front of Eduardo's and rejoin the CV83 heading out towards Pinoso? The choice, as that voice on Blind Date used to say, is yours.

Towards Pinoso then, at the roundabout just before the town off to the right skirting the industrial estate and the open land where the bullocks are chased around by the local lads at Fiesta time in August. I've wondered about stopping a couple of times to take a snap up the hillside there because with the morning sunshine the houses on the hillside in the Santa Catalina area look very colourful and jolly. Left at the next roundabout then and skirting the North of Pinoso before clearing the town and heading out towards Jumilla. Careful of the speed limit through Casas Ibañez - lots of stories there about speed traps - and across the border into the Murcia Region. Off to the right the Sierra del Carche and its 1372 metre peak. All along the road small hamlets, cultivated land - lots of vines and olives and almonds - a modern bodega and quite a lot of fallow or maybe unusable land.

The road is relatively straight with almost no traffic and the car tends to settle at something comfortable. It would be easy to find myself exceeding the 90kph open road speed limit. There are a few bends just before and past the failed Venta Viña P Restaurant and Los Olmos, the very strangely located kart racing track, hotel and restaurant complex. After a while the road straightens and drops with a great view out to the Sierra de Sopalmo - a big wall of hills and, in the distance, the A33 motorway.

Up to now I've been heading basically East but somewhere around here I want to start heading South on the A33 which runs down to Murcia City. Until quite recently I would have used one of the  trunk roads, the National or N344 to make that journey but, in 2012 the first 30kms or so of the Motorway, the Autovía, A33 between Blanca and close to Jumilla was opened having cost some 122 million euros. Eventually the A33 will connect motorways coming out of Andalucia and Murcia with motorways in Alicante which will make all sorts of routes faster but will principally create an inland route to cut the corner on the way up to France. There is a snag though. Although the Pinoso road is the principal East West road in the area the road builders, in their wisdom, chose not to add direct access to the motorway. Instead I have to drive a few kilometres on the old, and now very quiet, ex main road or I can cut the corner and go through the village of Encebras. I like the Encebras route despite the 20kph speed limit, which I obviously keep to, because there is the vague chance of seeing somone on foot. I did pass a tractor the other day but otherwise no vehicles so far. And Encebras has street lighting which always strikes me as bizarre for a village that can have no more than 50 inhabitants.

I do about 18kms on the motorway. Nice black tarmac and clear white lines with very little traffic. So far the journey has taken about 20 minutes. The motorway bit takes another ten minutes or so. Suddenly there's a built up area just off the motorway, the village built around the old, 1868, railway station for Blanca. It's 10km to Blanca but there's Spanish railways for you. Apparently 800 people live in Estación de Blanca but all I notice really are the Blancasol agricultural co-op and the bar where the Guardia Civil park up for a mid morning coffee. It's quite a strange road layout to get onto the RM402 which connects the motorway I've just come off with the motorway I want to join, the A30, heading out of Murcia for Albacete and on to Madrid. There is a marked change too from countryside to messy urban in this bit of Murcia and that means much more traffic.

I have to take a bit of a left turn across traffic which is quite an unusual operation on a free flowing Spanish road. It's much more common to send you right into a little semicircle to allow you to turn left by crossing traffic from a stop sign. The junction is marked by a strange, single, abandoned block of green and white flats built in the middle of nowhere. The junction also has unexpected adverse camber and leads into a another slip road which is both the exit and entry to the A30. That can be fun at times. Some eight kilometres heading back North now, off on the Cieza turn, a couple of roundabouts and into the entrance to the town. Bonica Cieza it says on a big sign just there, a very Murcian way to suggest that the town is pretty. Certainly the local inhabitants seem to stick up for it and what I've seen looks nice enough. Down past the park and a big sort of esplanade which is always full of people out for a bit of a stroll in the evening, full twist around a roundabout and then a right turn onto the bit of wasteland that surrounds the school where I do my English teaching. Then it's just a case of parking up and avoiding any large shards of glass from any newly broken beer bottles from the night before.

The route home isn't an exact repeat but my guess is that you've taken as much as you can now so let's pretend it is.

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