|Wa-ah, wa-ah, waaaaahh, wah wha wha
Wa-ah, wa-ah, waaaaahh, wah wha whahhhhhhhhhhh
I'll name that tune in one, Tom.
Oh yes, it's exciting times in Camp Martland at the moment. We've come down to the Cabo de Gata Parque Naturel, down in the very south-east of the country, just east of Almeria city. We'll get to the natural park bit in a sec, but much more importantly is the fact that Sergio Leone filmed many of his best spag westerns in these here parts. Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly were all done here, as were hundreds of other films including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, Baron Munchhausen, the list goes on. We visited a little pueblo today that stood in for the Mexican village of Aguas Calientes in For a Few Dollars More, and they had an info board with stills from the film alongside the actual streets that were used, and as you can see from the photos they renamed the streets after Clint and Lee. Brilliant!
Of course, as we were driving through the desert landscape and then especially when we drove into the village, we were playing Ennio Morricone's fabulous score from the films. When we drew up to Calle Clint Eastwood and got out to read the information boards, the wah wah wah music was still playing in the van; goodness knows what the locals were thinking. Yes, you may think we are quite sad for getting excited about all this, but we love it!
It's very much a desert around here. All arid mountains, vast plains covered by scrub, and miles of massive cacti. It's beautiful, but in the way that all deserts are, and it's sort of mournful. Before getting to the actual park region you have to drive through an area where there appears to be nothing but poly-tunnels growing every tomato that Europe will ever eat. The downside of all that is that it's pretty untidy, with rubbish everywhere, which is so disappointing considering how beautiful the park is. To the north of the park, above the A7, is a more mountainous desert region, where film set villages were built and where parts of all those films already mentioned were filmed too. They have turned these into tourist attractions with names like Mini Hollywood, and Fort Bravo Hollywood, but we didn't go and have a look. Not really worth the 16 euro entry fee when the can-can show, and the bank robbery show, aren't on. It was all a bit sad, especially at this time of year as it's so quiet. But the mountains, they were something else, really beautiful, and you could easily imagine an apache brave scout peering over the top of one of those hills.
The site we are on couldn't be further removed from the world of Clint and Lee. It's full of retired British and German people spending the whole winter here which is absolutely fine if that's your bag, baby, but it's not really ours so we'll be moving on soon. When we arrived, a nice older lady in on a mobility scooter came to see us and told us all about the market, and about the fish and chips they do on a Friday here, and the free tapas with a beer in the village. Brilliantly, she also told us that Christine at number 86 did dog grooming, so yesterday Doug got a haircut, and a much better one than he got from me in Greece. At least he doesn't look like he has mange anymore.
The best thing about the site is the amount of Christmas lights on so many of the vans (because most people are here long term). It's helped to make us feel a bit more Christmassy. Even better since we spent yesterday afternoon listening to non-stop Christmas songs on th'ipod and making the presents. Yes, making. For anyone in the Christmas house in Gaucin (one week to go), they are getting a home-made present from me. Don't ask, it's not pretty.
The other great thing about the site is the amount of birds around here. We're not far from the sea, and there's a great lagoon nearby, so there are hundreds of birds to look at, and of course as long as there's a beach then Doug's happy.