couple looking in a rockpool in Torrevieja, Spain

2016 Spain

Snorkeling at Cala de la Zorra, Torrevieja

30 May 2016 | Mri Grout

Due to the ridiculous heat and constant boredom (more for Rob on the latter than for me as I’m getting into this whole blogging thing if you can’t tell :P), he and I decided to check out another snorkeling spot in Torrevieja despite the last two not being that great. Maybe we had been spoiled by the bright colors of the Great Barrier Reef (if you managed to find a patch that wasn’t bleached), or maybe it was just a combination of all of the other beautiful mountains and canyons we had traveled that made them look bleak. Then again, it could’ve just been those two places weren’t that good and so we headed out to see which was the case.

I remembered to bring my proper camera this time regardless because even though the world underneath the water wasn’t amazing, the rock above it sure was – and anyone who’s read a single one of my posts probably knows of my weakness for weird looking rocks. Not a jewelry or gem girl, but give/show me some cool rock and we’re going to be the best of friends. Lols.

cala de la zorra, Torrevieja SpainAfter thinking we were at the wrong spot, walking away from it, realizing we actually were at the right spot (though not now), deciding to just screw it and swim where we were, Rob telling me to get in first because it was too cold, and me refusing to because I’m scared of the water, we finally managed to get in for a swim.

And it was freaking freezing. Like ice water freezing...or rather, that’s what it felt like. A feeling that slowly disappeared after a full ten minutes of swimming back and forth and getting distracted by all the fish and pretty seaweed (or whatever this is).

Not all of it was as colorful as the one shown here, but there was the odd patch and besides, it was the fish that we were here for. The seaweed stuff was just a bonus.

cala de la zorra, Torrevieja SpainAfter a couple of hours enjoying our time in the water, the coldness set back in and so we headed back to shore, but on the way I got distracted by some fish that didn’t seem to be swimming away from me and of course, I then had to stay in. I tried diving down to the ledge they were on, but found that too tiring and so opted for just standing on it and bending over. A wonderful choice that turned out to be when another school of small fish came over to see what I was, thus allowing me to get some pretty good photos...or rather, as good as they get with the $25 camera I picked up in an Australian pawn shop last year.

The wonderful part was when one the size of my hand tried sneaking up on me. I’d see it move out of the corner of my eye, but every time I turned to it it would freeze. Hoping it wasn’t poisonous due to its weird frills (my time in Australia made me a bit more paranoid of weird sea creatures), I started to wonder whether I should get out of the water before it got any closer. No sooner had I thought this, when that decision was made for me as I let out a scream and jumped out because the damn thing bit me. It didn’t hurt so much as just take me by surprise, so we’re planning on heading back sometime to get our feet cleaned. (: Or just bitten. Lols.

Getting Lost is Just Another Way of Traveling

27 May 2016 | Mri Grout

the beautiful old town of Alicante...I thinkAfter having dragged ourselves out of bed for our Spanish lessons like we do every Friday, Rob and I had a nice chat with two of our fellow classmates over some drinks like we do every so often. Our financial situation came up and they asked me if we were worried about not being able to find work to increase our savings. Rob obviously said, ‘yes,’ but I just shrugged my shoulders – after everything else I’d been through this was a piece of cake.

And obviously that required an explanation so I filled them in on my old drug dealing roommate, the druggie sleeping on our couch, and the local gang he brought over to trash the place. They asked if I finally got out and then of course that led into my whole ‘sleeping with the homeless, finding evidence of some very probable foul play (like death/kidnapping kind), and hitching with a masturbator’ ordeal so I think they eventually got where I was coming from.

And to think, I hadn’t even mentioned the attempted murderer, other drug dealer (who I accidentally stood guard for while he dealt to a prostitute), and a guy paranoid the mafia was out to kill him. Or the schizophrenic around the corner who yelled some pretty mean things all night, the – oh, you get the point.

Anyway, it was this talk that finally motivated Rob and I to get out of the house and go do something – a task we had been avoiding only because we felt as if we’d already seen all of the nearby 24 Free Attractions in Valencia, Spain. Well, except for one – and so up we drove to Alicanta’s Santa Barbara castle.

But obviously we got lost looking for free parking because when do we ever not?

Volvo Ocean Museum in Alicante, SpainThen again, getting lost is just another way of travelling and today really proved that as we saw signs for a free entry to the Volvo Ocean Race Museum. Having not read anything about this when researching for my website, I was game and given they had a giant boat parked outside and was about the Volvo Ocean Race, Rob was also up for checking it out.

The customer service was amazing for as soon as we stepped inside a guy came to great us. We had a nice chat before he showed us to the entrance and off we went to explore. They have model boats on display, one of which was made before the actual boat and not entirely up to par as they didn’t want their technical secrets leaking out. There was also a video game for 1-4 people playing in 2 teams that raced around a course, a sextant to play with (though if you get the wrong answer, a huge crowd boos at you; lols), and stunning photos taken from the race by 22 different photographers and 220 hours of helicopter use. That might sound like a lot, but take in mind that the race is about 39,000 nautical miles long and takes around 9 months to complete.

learning how to use a sextant at the Volvo Ocean MuseumBut this one was definitely worth it as we got talking to the guys behind the desk and after finding out I was an American, they gave me a book worth £54 (we googled it) because the DVD in the back only worked on American DVD players. I didn’t bother telling him I didn’t have one, though if I had I doubt he would have taken it back. Mostly because he gave Rob another DVD to ‘make up’ for me getting one. Lols.

Discovering this Volvo Ocean Race Museum was a definite highlight to getting lost and to anyone else visiting Alicante, I would recommend to go see it.

Our next stop (or rather or supposed-to-be first stop) was Alicante’s Santa Barbara castle. Lae, our first couchsurfer mentioned in a previous post, talked about it and I had researched it a bit for the site and so we thought to check it out. However, walking from the docks to their wasn’t very straight forward, so once again we got lost.

And once again we found ourselves discovering treasures we never would have. Now anyone that knows me (or follows my blog/reads my website) knows that I’m not big on cities, but Alicante is a whole different matter. It’s just beauitful walking around here and I wish I had more time to do so. I definitely feel like another trip to this Alicante is in order somewhere down the line.

After taking turns down whichever street looked interesting, we eventually found our way to Santa Barbara castle and the views were gorgeous. The actual castle bit of it wasn’t very castle-y once inside, though that doesn’t mean it was disappointing. Far from it actually and besides, it wasn’t its fault it got blown up by the Spanish to kick out the English. They destroyed 400 Spanish houses for that, but I don’t speak enough of the language to know if they thought it was worth it. The day out to Alicante, however, definitely was. (:

The Local Attraction of Rio Chicamo

8 May 2016 | Mri Grout

Rob's dad came to visit us on Thursday night and since then I've managed to avoid going on a walk with him. He's a great guy and we get on well enough, but his energy level is through the roof and he walks. So. Damn. FAST.

And bloody far.

But mostly just fast.You know, the type of exercise I try to avoid whenever possible.

Hence my slight unsociability for the past few days.

cave houses seen on the way to rio chicamo...when you get lost anywayBut given they were away tomorrow, the forecast called for rain (this was very important as it meant I could sneak in a shorter walk, one only about 4 miles), Rob and I hadn't walked it before (Spanish maps aren't very accurate and I'm the default navigator), and it looked super pretty in the photos, I decided to hell with it and went with them.

It wasn't until I got us there and we walked a bit, however, that I realized that our final destination was not in fact, our wanted destination. You would think that after already knowing that the Spanish maps aren't very accurate I would have double checked this on the hour's drive, but of course I didn't because I was too busy singing along to some nostalgic classical rock. And really, which one of those is more important?

Besides, it was a simple correction and we got to eat some wild almonds because of it, so not all was lost. Hahaha. I love puns. (:

Once we finally began to plunge through the wild terrain of the bamboo forests and cross their rapid rivers, I was awarded with the gorgeous views I had seen online.

Natural bridge through the bamboo forests of Rio ChicamoThe secret swimming hole of Rio Chicamo

The others though were momentarily scarred by the humping bodies of two strangers. Strangers I had promptly been warned about once I finally caught up and naturally my first question was 'where?' as in 'where so I can avoid them?' not 'ooooooh, where? ;)'

Unfortunately, however, it probably didn't come across as the former as I had nodded a few times in conformation, walked forward before they could stop me, and then promptly realized I had not, in fact, understood exactly where they had been pointing.

Nor did my surprised 'Oooooh!' probably help to correct that. For sure, it didn't help to lessen the embarrassment of the situation given the woman kept her arm across her face until we departed the area – which unfortunately for her, was quite a while given the place they had picked was quite attractive (a trait they probably weren't very happy about any more lols).

But eventually we did drop down into the gorge on bare feet and disappear through its narrow bends.

amazing canyon hike through Rio ChicamoOnce out the other side I had a bit more trouble figuring out where we were given the map I had to go on was this little more than a blur, but combined with google maps and a moving blue dot, I figured how hard could it be? Follow the road. Follow the other river. Go in a straight line around the small hill and head back to the car. Got it.

Except after the road, there wasn't a river.

Or a path.

Or one hill.

There was just the ridge line with sloping sides that turned into steep drops because you know – it was a freakin' canyon. Lols.

The Guardian Angels of Rojales

1 May 2016 | Mri Grout

While out shopping for a smart shirt that Rob could wear when handing out CV's, we got to talking to the volunteers running the op shop (AKA: charity shop, thrift store, consignment shop, etc). We told them about our worldly travels and in return we were told of the horse charity that the shop was supporting.

It's called the Easy Horse Care Rescue Center, but after arriving and hearing some of the stories I don't see how any of it is easy – especially the part where you don't go all Deadpool on the abusers.

gorgeous white horse rescued by Easy Horse Rescue Center in RojalesFor instance, this poor guy was found with a giant hole in his head due to being hit with a hammer and chisel. It's why he walks with his head tilted so far over to the side, though when they first rescued him he couldn't even walk he was so brain damaged. And then when he finally started to, he only ever walked in circles.

He's come a long way from death's door and though his story ignites me full of anger, it's not just directed at the actual abusers. The only two options available to someone no longer able to take care of a horse is to either get rid of it or kill it. Either option costs 2000 euros in Spain – a cost that's unsurprisingly not easily afforded so the people try to off the horses themselves. This greed of money, money, money leaves too many horses facing this horrible fate in Spain and as sad as it is to write this: those abusers were probably trying to give the horse mercy as the only other option was to let it slowly starve to death.

But then there are cases like that of rich dickheads just being impossible, cruel dickheads who were given two horses they didn't want and so instead of getting rid of them, they just let them starve. The rescue centre actually had to buy those horses to save them – from a bitch dressed up in diamonds and a jackass in a fancy sports car. It's sickening and worse, they don't even get in trouble for it.

beautiful brown horse rescued by Easy Horse Rescue Center in RojalesNeither did the people who used to own this beauty. People that thought the best way to teach this horse to stop biting was by smashing all of his top teeth out. One of those broken is now infected, but due to the horse's age they can't put him under for the surgery. Neither can they simply pull it out as what's remaining of the tooth is too small to grab onto and pull.

Such mindless cruelty and yet, no fine, no jail, not even a slap on the wrist for those that just abandon and abuse these majestic creatures.

But though all of the horses living here have sad tales to tell, its easy to see the intense care they get from their new owners. The majority might not frolic around the fields because their knees are trashed or they're missing parts, but they're all well fed, healthy, and very much loved.

So for anyone who comes across a poorly looking horse south of Alicante, Easy Horse Rescue Centre is definitely the place to contact at 652 021 980.

For anyone who wants to help support this inspiring centre, they are open to the public every first Sunday of the month from 13.00 – 16.00, with a free tour running around 14.30. During this time they also sell delicious cakes, quiches, and chips and hold a raffle where pretty much everyone is a winner. There's also a tack shop that's open every day of the week from 10.00 – 18.00 and multiple charity shops in the following towns: Gran Alacant, Guardamar, La Marina, La Siesta, La Zenia, Los Montesinos, Pilar de la Horadada, and Quesada.

And for anyone abusing anything, you need to go get some much needed help.

2016 Spain: June

2016 Spain: April & March