Roman ruins, surfing cows and naked people

View from top of dunes

ka-klank, ka-klank goes the cow’s bell, hehaww, heehaw, cock-a-doodle-dooooooooo and neigheeeyyyy. The sun’s rays are just peaking over the hills and all the town is seemingly awake. Unable to sleep any further, I reluctantly roll out of bed and head down to the beach for an early morning stroll.

Who needs a wakeup call?

The cows are already on the beach lying down on the cool wet sand and the horses are rolling their backs on the sand trying to get a good scratch in. The beach in Bolonia is not quite like the beaches elsewhere in Spain. What is immediately evident when arriving in Bolonia is the lack of over development. No big hotels, no crowds and not much of anything else.

It’s a quiet little town located within el Parque Natural Del Estrecho and at the edge of a La Dunas National Landmark. It sits at the southern most tip of Spain where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet and as a result, the winds can really pick up in the afternoon. This makes kite surfing a really big sport here. Kite surfing even has a multispecies following here! The cows hang out at the very edge of the water watching kite surfers, while dogs keep a sharp eye on their owners. The beach is full of interesting characters. Take a walk down the beach and you soon discover that clothing is optional for men and women alike! I’m constantly reminded of that every morning when of our neighbors goes out for her daily morning swim in her birthday suit!

Cows surf vicariously

At the edge of the horizon one can make out the shadow of the hills of Tangier. Morocco sits only about 20 miles south of where we are. At night the view south is fascinating because you can make out the twinkling lights of the boisterous city. Yet on this beach, one feels a world and time away. Time is no longer an important measure when all there is around you is beach. The beach is beautiful. The sand is soft and light beige color and the sun is perfectly hot, which you need in order to get into the cold Atlantic water!

However, I’m not much of a fan of cold water so I avoid swimming in the ocean and the hostel’s unheated pool. Instead I opt to explore the other fascinating parts of this land. The Roman town of Baelo Claudia was a fishing village established in the 2nd century BC and is now an archeological ruin that sits at the edge of town. It’s not the Pantheon or the Forum, but for only 1.5 euro, it’s totally worth the entry fee! They have a beautiful museum that explains the daily life and strategic value of having a fishing village so close to the edge of Africa. They also still have archeologists digging on site so that visitors can observe and discover along with them. This ancient city sits right at the edge of the beach and one can just imagine what it must have been like to sit on the steps of the outdoor auditorium watching a play with the ocean as the backdrop! Talk about being “up staged”!

Baleo Claudia

There was one thing I really wanted to do since the day I arrived and that was to go to the top of the dunes. The curiosity was driving me nuts! I wanted to know what I would see when I got to the top of the dunes. So I grabbed a water bottle and walked a mile down the beach and up the 30 meters of sand to reach the top of the dunes. 30 meters doesn’t seem like much, but it sure is hard walking up an ever-moving pile of sand! I swear each time I felt like I reached the “top” there was another hill of sand to go over. But, with a lot of little breaks I made it to the top and the view was spectacular! I expected to see a dune on the other side, but instead the dune abruptly ends as a wall butting against a forest. Not quite what I was expecting. I figured a gradual transition would take place, but a step further at the edge of the dunes and one would take a 30 ft fall! I take time to pause and admire the view since I’m actually here to study flamenco! I begin to shoot a video to help me remember the view when all of a sudden I’m reminded that I’m not alone and I run down the hill and back to class!

For a full set of photos check out my flickr page ISOPhotosbyMariana

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