Well I got to Canos de Meca eventually, but it is hard knowing when to get off especially when you don't now how long the trip takes and no one knows english to let you know that this is your stop, but with plenty of scanning of every road sign I finally found Barca Vejer which is the closest stop so I got off there. I thought I would have a few shops to look at or a bus station to sit in to wait for my ride, but no, just one pub, a huge dirt parking lot and a step on the side of the road for me to wait an hour for the host to come and pick me up after getting her kids from school. So I waited........ and hoped I was in the right spot! Luckily it was sunny so I sat and put my music on... which promptly died after 5 minutes, so I waited...
After an hour and a half I had to ring her because I finally got worried.... which promptly cut out! But then two minutes later she turned up and in I got and back to the house. I have to say I felt a bit odd, I really had no idea what to expect. She had two lovely girls 11 and 13 and lived in a nice house just over the road from the beach. Then she showed me to my room which was a small cabin out the back which was fine and cosy, and then the toilet and cooking area was in another little room still across the lawn through a gate. Which was fine too but just not what I expected.
So the first night she went out and said to look after the kids...! You all know I haven't got the first idea what the hell to do with kids! And I was so damn tired I just kinda sat around and they did their own thing as they had no idea what to do with me too! The next day I was introduced to the rest of my chores which was pretty much to clean the kitchen which often looked like a bomb site and the rest of the house. Easier said than done when you cant read any of the freaking cleaning labels!!! So I guessed by what the pictures were on the bottle and just kind of gave it a go, I would have asked but she was out again. And that arvo we went with the kids to a beach about 10mins drive away which was nice for a bit of a frolic in the sea, and on my return she was topless sunbathing! Now don't get me wrong I'm not a total prude but it was just a bit of a shock so early in my stay, which was followed the next morning by a t shirt and lacy thong! I didn't know where to look! I mean good on her for being very comfortable but it was a surprise and a half. Followed by my first walk that arvo on the beach by the house where I wandered past several people in the buff! ok so someone could have warned me it was a nudist beach! Crikey Spain is laid back!
My first three or so days were pretty average cause I was stuck in the house cause the wind was blowing a gale and I was there cleaning someone else's toilet and I thought what the hell have I got myself in for??? When the weather improved so did my mood a bit, along with the arrival of Jason who had come and worked here last year and had come back to help out again. He was a good sounding board for all my issues! and he took it all very well and got me to understand her way of doing things and it was just quite a bit different to the way I operate. I think the biggest thing was that she had so many people to come and help out she kind of forgot we all need a good run down of the do's and don'ts. I found out by trial and error that everything runs on solar power so I was unable to use the washing machine, dishwasher, stove and toaster without her checking the stored energy or turning the generator on. Also they were vegetarian and ate only organic food - don't get me wrong, this is really good, and her cooking was excellent, but it was all just a bigggg shock.
I was in the house the first week helping out with the cooking and eating with them until Jason came, then we went and did our own shopping and cooked in the area out back. Now this was a struggle and a laugh. We had a fridge and stove that ran on gas so not to drain the power and they were both outside as there wasn't enough room inside and the weather is usually pretty mild that time of year so they wouldn't get ruined (however it did rain twice, which was out of character for that time of the year and it put the gas to the fridge out... argh warm food). God what an effort to cook on a gas stove in the wind!!! But the up side was that we could have what ever the hell we wanted which suited me fine!! We also became a local at a pub down the road and the bar tender got our drinks ready without us even having to order - great service!
After a week inside I did mention to her that I kind of thought I would be doing more outside stuff while I was there and she was kind of surprised, and said oh but that's what Jason is here for.... sigh... I don't think she is used to someone like me who would far prefer getting my hands dirty and digging and making rock walls than sweeping and moping a floor. But she then realised I was a bit miserable inside so after the morning kitchen clean up I was free in the garden which was great and the next week progressed much more smoothly. I even ended up staying a further week as my next hosts had relatives coming so it was going to be a bit cramped, so in all I spent three weeks by the coast.
All and all not too bad - especially the fact that each day when I had finished my work I could have a siesta or sunbathe or anything which suited me well, I am now super brown and loving it.
I decided also before I went to the next place to have a short break in Ronda, which I heard from other travellers was beautiful, and it truly was! Getting there was another bus drama, damn the spanish bus system! I was dropped on the side of the road over an hour and a half early (I thought it was going to be after she picked up the kids from school, but she surprised me dropping me off first so I never got to say bye to them which I felt bad for) so I waited.... then a bus came after an hour (I have no idea why, as none were due for another 30mins) then I got to Cadiz where I had to wait another 2.5 hours for the bus to Ronda and I think I got on the last service of the day which stopped at 50 million stops and took over 3 hours to get there (and I had to do the "look for every sign" thing again as I didn't know how far away it was) Then when I got there it was dark and the hotel I booked in said they were over the road from the bus station - not true as there were only residential houses- so after asking three people (only one of which spoke english) found my hotel down the road in a small ally. After I checked in the girl said to me 1 and I was like what? she said you are on floor 1 and then promptly got her handbag and left...... well thanks for the service wench!
The hotel redeemed itself the next morning with breakfast with a nice old man who made me a cafe con leche (one of the first things I learnt - coffee with milk) and cereal and a huge baguette and juice- so great! Then I was off to explore Ronda. It is beautiful, two towns either side of a huge gorge, now one town joined by a huge bridge. It was stunning weather and it was just a nice old town with cobbled streets and super views out into the countryside. I wondered around and took heaps of pikkys and then eventually thought I should go to the info centre to figure out how to get to the next home stay as I couldn't find anything online. The lady was pleasant but less than helpful and told me several ways I couldn't get there but maybe I should go to an internet cafe to search the train timetables.... gee thanks lady.
When I thought all hope was lost a guy overheard me and asked where I was from and I said NZ and he said oo a kiwi, and I was like yes... he then proceeded to say several more things which I couldn't really understand as his english was pretty poor and broken, but he was determined to help me and walked me to train ticket office which was shut so he then proceeded to walk me all the way to the train station, on the way bumping into a friend who couldn't speak any english and he invited him along with us. One was a police officer and the other an engineer, or something.... I really couldn't tell what he was on about most of the time and he was a bit odd, very chirpy, but meant well! And he kepst saying happy happy?? And I was like yes I am very happy happy, thank you for your help, so over the next hour it was happy happy this and happy happy that... argh!!! hahaha. At the station I asked if the ticket guy spoke english and he didn't so the random guy booked my tickets for me! Now that's service! I then decided to get away and said I was hungry and had to go to find some food so he took me to a place for tapas, which turned out to be really really good and everything was 1 euro and a decent size serving. After the food I excused myself again and said I was off for a siesta and he said ok but I should meet him at 7 that night for some dancing, and I said mumble mumble, don't count on it, blah blah....etc but he was happy cause he thought I was coming and off he went! it was so very funny and random!
After I escaped to my hotel for a bit I then came back out and went for a walk down a track by the gorge to get some photos of the bridge, and mosey around some other parts I hadn't yet ventured into. I also went into an old garden and down into their well, which I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself in for. It was bloody near 200 steps in almost pitch black (a few lights here and there but not enough) down wet steps down into the pit of the gorge.... I should have really researched that one before I went! s*** it was scary! any hoo all good.
So the next day I went to the train station a bit early and relaxed in the sun on the grass out front like a real transient, got some weird looks and some old man yelled at me - god know what? and then got on my train and wizzed through the beautiful countryside and saw millions of olive trees and the occasional paddock full of poppies! so pretty! Then changed station, waited another hour then was at my next home stay.
Phew what a journey so far!
Anyhoo I will leave that chapter for later as I am about to get writers cramp!