Camping, as many people will tell you, can be great fun. The allure of discarding all the banal trivia that can clutter up our lives and replacing them with the wholesome simplicity of fresh air and open spaces is obvious. It was this type of escape my girlfriend and I craved, tired of asphyxiating everyday in our rented flat. We bought a tent, we bought some sleeping bags and we bought into the dream of the great outdoors. So, where to go? 30€ for a return to Cadaquez seemed prohibitively expensive, so we decided to hop down the coast to the more affordable Villa Nova. The Rough Guide had told us the campsite was "pleasant though modest" but more importantly "on the beach" It omitted to tell us exactly where it was located and how to get there, but it couldn't be that hard could it, surely?
Alighting at the train station, we strolled purposefully down to the beach and after a bit of "Donde esta-ing" found our way to the Tourist Office where we asked which direction did we need to walk in. "WALK?" The lady behind the counter exclaimed, making a face like we had asked to be transported by dragons. After an enthusiastic telephone call she advised us to get the No. 1 bus, and after stocking up on wine and some unfeasibly large loaves and returning to the bus station, we did. I'm no expert in Tourist information, but if I were aware that two different No. 1 buses run by two different bus companies, going to wildly different destinations leave from the same station, I might have mentioned it at least in passing. She didn't mention it, and needless to say we boarded the wrong bus.
So, after possibly the most circuitous journey known to man, the bus deposits us at a mountain campsite where eagles would get vertigo. True, you could walk to the beach, but it's the kind of walk Henry Morton Stanley would baulk at. We explained in our best 'Spanglish' that we needed to be 'aqui, no aqui' and for a small fee the driver agreed to take us back to the bus station, again. Not wishing to return back there for the third time in as many hours, we got out halfway down and hit the prosaically named C31.
After half an hour in the blistering midday sun, laden with ridiculous amounts of cumbersome bags and camping equipment, the bread having fallen into the drainage ditch that runs along that forlorn and featureless carriageway for the third time, it dawned on me that this was not a particularly entertaining experience. In fact it was possibly the worst experience of my life, and I include in that the day I spent in hospital getting a pilonidal sinus removed from my arse. At least I was sedated for that- no amount of drugs could make this march across barren wilderness even remotely 'cheery'.
An hour later we were told that the campsite was “complete” but there was another one five minutes down the road. The guy clearly must have traveled everywhere by fighter jet because it was at least half an hour before we saw the faded flags of various European countries announcing that we had indeed arrived. Like a thirsty man falling upon an oasis, I grasped the receptionist.
'Señor, por favour, por favour', I pleaded with the man, ' Tell me you have space for two people'?
'Of course Señor,' he said. I could feel tears of gratitude welling up in my eyes. 'If you could fill out these forms… (anything, give them to me)…and if I could just take your passports....'
On the train home, the mood was a sombre one. Tears had been shed; cross words spoken. Of course, had we been going to a hotel or a pension, passports would have been high on our pre journey checklist, but going to a place where security of your valuables depends on, essentially, a bit of fabric fastened by a zip, we had thought it more prudent to leave ours at home. Wrong- very wrong.
We did go camping eventually, about a week later when the scars had healed and the nightmares had all but abated. The young people were courteous enough to stop playing drums at a little before 5am, allowing us the luxury of a few hours much needed sleep. The dysentery was easy calmed with a few Imodium and the lightning didn't damage the tent TOO badly. All in all, we had a wonderful time, as one inevitably will when one girds one's loins and pitches out under canvas in the great outdoors. Camping, as many people tell you, can be great fun.
by Phil Smith