<![CDATA[El Perro Negro]]>https://elperronegro.com/https://elperronegro.com/favicon.pngEl Perro Negrohttps://elperronegro.com/Ghost 5.25Wed, 25 Jan 2023 12:12:09 GMT60<![CDATA[Cold fingers in the Contraviesa]]>https://elperronegro.com/cold-fingers-in-the-contraviesa/63d11bb55f5db87ef580cca7Wed, 25 Jan 2023 12:12:03 GMT

The "beast from the north" had arrived and the weather was turning colder. The high mountains were out, so we headed for the lower Sierra de Contraviesa hills.

We clambered out of our two cars and into the middle of the bustling village of Alcazar. Bustling? Well, if you can call a market stall, a scabby dog and two old women talking "bustling", yes.

We must have appeared to them like creatures from another planet that had arrived in their quiet, traditional Spanish village to transport them back to the Planet Zog for further analysis and experimentation. Our brightly coloured clothing, phones and gadgets clashed with their drab headscarves. They smiled wryly and knowingly, as we headed off up the main street vigorously clicking our watches to record every footfall. Probably wondering where in "dios" name are we going?

Cold fingers in the Contraviesa
The village of Alcazar

Rather ominously, the path we started out on led to the cemetery and almost disappeared. The path that is, not the cemetery. The sun was out and on looking back, the village looked pretty in the sunlight backed by the snow clad mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

A faint track led steeply upwards. And upwards. And upwards. As we entered the tree line the lukewarm winter sun was replaced by a bitter winter's cold. Out came the gloves and down jackets. The track continued upwards. And upwards. And upwards. We burst out onto a sunlit platform. Off came the gloves and down jackets.

To reach a forest trail we had to enter the forest again. Out came the gloves and down jackets. The forest trail led to a dirt road that curved around the mountain side. Great views all around but off came the gloves and down jackets. We arrived at a small pass and a flat grassy plain so, after donning our gloves and down jackets we sat down to eat our sandwiches. The sun came out from behind clouds. Yeh! Warm sun. This meant we had to remove our gloves and down jackets.

Cold fingers in the Contraviesa

As we left our delectable lunch spot the clouds came over and, yes you've guessed it, out came the gloves and down jackets. We started our descent to the valley that would lead to Torvizcon. I have done this descent many times, normally accompanied by bright white and pink almond blossom. Today was different in that it was far too early in winters progression for such beauty. Instead the hillsides were rather drab in comparison.

As we descended the air warmed and we took off our gloves and down jackets, for the last time today, we hoped. It was a long walk out but easy and fast going down the dry "rambla" leading to the town of Torvizcon. Storm clouds started building ahead in the Sierra Nevada as we headed into town to find a lovely open bar.

My mind had been dreaming up images of a nice roaring fire and a warm beer akin to a winter return to the legendary Clachaig Inn in Glencoe. What we got was ice cold beer and a cold, stark Spanish bar.

We reached for our gloves and down jackets!


Photography

Was out yesterday with my 50mm prime lens. Sometimes called a "Nifty Fifty", this lens has a fixed focal length of 50mm, so you cannot zoom in nor out. These type of lenses are generally not only cheaper than zoom lenses, they are lighter and of good quality too. I guess due the simpler nature of their construction.

Certainly not as convenient as a zoom lens though, so I found myself having regularly to move around to find a suitable vantage point to frame a shot. To be honest, it was enjoyable and made me think more about the image I was trying to convey, rather than just zoom in/out to frame the shot.

Many "proper" photographers prefer to carry a variety of prime lenses so they can swap around at will. Not me, age is against me and travelling lightweight has become the norm. I think for now I will stick with my "Nifty Fifty" and have some fun.

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<![CDATA[The Reluctant Pathbuilder and the Lentegi Circular]]>https://elperronegro.com/the-reluctant-pathbuilder-and-the-lentegi-circular/63c28f8d9249aa254c2a34dbSat, 14 Jan 2023 11:20:37 GMT

It's rather nice when you come across an area of natural beauty that had been overlooked and discarded by yourself, as not being worthy of a visit, despite living in that same region for over 20 years. These are magical finds. We came across such a find last Tuesday in the north-eastern reaches of the Sierra de Almijara.

Beyond visiting the each of the Rio Verde and Pico Lopera walks a couple of times each, my only other hiking  trip here had been to scale the long, drawn out peak of Navachica, many years ago. However, by chance, I came across the local route designated PR440 near the village of Lentegi. We, valiant Nomads, decided to give it a go.

The Reluctant Pathbuilder and the Lentegi Circular

Where we had chosen to start the local route, the PR440 circular loop, conveniently off the main road between Padul and Otivar, had no parking. Doh! This meant a bit of road walking initially before arriving at the "hors d'oeuvre" of the walk, a drop down into a deep gorge. We nearly missed the sharp left hand turn as the sign was off the track. This was a great descent, steep with superb views and surrounded by jagged peaks. Had the map been lying to us? Who put this walk here and then told nobody about it?

The base of the Rio Lentegi valley was reached where we found not a river, not a stream, in fact not a drop of water, apart from a forlorn "fuente" desperately trying to emit some of the wet stuff. We climbed up a steep "barranco" on a series of convenient zig-zags and emerged near a well worn dirt track.

Following the dirt track in a northwesterly direction we, rather surprisingly, came across a small area of local farming communities. A semi circle of peaks rose above us looking like a mini-Dolomites, but trees on their skylines gave substance to the illusion. This whole first section reminded me very much of our third day on the island of La Palma, where we descended through forested hillsides into the Caldera de Taburiente.

The Reluctant Pathbuilder and the Lentegi Circular

Following wide, easy dirt tracks does not suit me. I tend to go too fast, partly because I get a bit bored I guess? This increase in speed quickly tires me out and I have to be constantly reminding myself to slow down and take it steady. Towards the end of this dirt track we headed off on a path on the left. It's had been a well marked trail to be fair to the man who made it, but forgot to say anything to anybody about it!

We took a lunch break and sat beneath the soaring peaks. "Sun or shade?" was the cry as it was difficult to believe we were in fact in January. The sun beat down and the air remained windless. We stripped down to our t-shirts and those that had the foresight to bring along, donned shorts.

Following this well marked trail we came to a loose section where that same path designer had forgotten to put an important signpost. Probably the most important one of the lot. Yes, the only one that we really needed during the whole hike wasn't in fact there! This meant we went slightly wrong and involved us in a short section where Tarzan-like tactics were required. But, us Nomads are made of stern stuff and we quickly adjusted and found ourselves an alternative, more direct route, that led to us to rejoining the correct main track and, remarkably, saving ourselves a kilometer. Fortune favours the brave eh?

Now came the hardest part of the day, a steep ascent back up to the ridge line although admittedly (and kudos to the path designer that forgot the important signposts), it was on mostly well graded zig zags. From there we followed a forest track around the rim of the hills before taking a hiking trail (well signed!) that led steeply down via some narrow sections too, to emerged eventually onto the sunlit hillsides above our start point.

With cold beers calling us and not wanting more uphill walking, we decided on the longer but easier main road route back to the cars. The couple of beers in Otivar went down really well, so well in fact that we had some more in Lanjarón when we reached there.

A superb "Challenging" walk, that left us tired but with some more ideas for future visits to this lovely area. Statistics and photos below.

The Reluctant Pathbuilder and the Lentegi Circular
The Reluctant Pathbuilder and the Lentegi Circular]]>
<![CDATA[The New Kitchen]]>https://elperronegro.com/the-new-kitchen/63c52e5d663d6d2edb33576fFri, 06 Jan 2023 11:13:00 GMT

Earlier this year we decided to update our old kitchen that had been installed sometime in the early 1990s. It was decidedly pokey and was desperately in need of some modernization. How on earth did I manage with that for 20 years!

Together with our friend, Felipe, we used a company "down the road" in Velez de Benaudalla, La Palma Muebles de Cocina to plan the kitchen during the summer. It was a rather simple plan which basically replaced the old curved breakfast bar/units with a straight line of units. Little did we really know at this time how inefficient the old curved bar had taken space away.

In the late November, our friends, Jane and Steve, did most of the demolition work to leave us with a clear empty space. We cooked either outside on the barbecue or on a hob inside.

The demolition of the old

At the end of November the new kitchen arrived and was installed very efficiently in a few hours. Well, not complete of course, this is Spain! We had yet to receive the marble worktops and splash backs. This arrived eventually a month later at the end of December!

This did give us some problems, especially with regard to a washing up facility which eventually was "bodged" by Felipe using a few planks of wood and a roll of sellotape! Anyway, it worked until the marble arrived and at long last we were able to complete the installation.

The installation of the new

We now have a lovely modern kitchen that has created so much space we never knew really existed. That of course has led to more problems though as the rest of the room looks dated and old fashioned. Time to upgrade some more furniture. It never ends does it?

The completed kitchen

The New Kitchen
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<![CDATA[Circular around Puerto Jubiley]]>https://elperronegro.com/circular-around-puerto-jubiley/639069a6f2e66867b98969b3Tue, 06 Dec 2022 10:23:00 GMT

Interesting circular walk from the Puerto de Jubiley today. Some impassable obstacles en route involved either a change of plan or swimming!

We had planned on dropping down to the Gualadfeo and traversing alongside the Rio Trevelez before coming up the valley back to the Puerto Jubiley via Chris Stewarts house. According to Chris this was a very beautiful route, especially when clouds and mist hung around the hillsides.

The "dropping down" bit went fine, although there is couple of small scrambly sections to negotiate. The problem came after surmounting the dam wall, via it's right hand side. The overnight rain had flooded this lower river which made it difficult to get through the muddy morass. Even the valiant exploits of Jane and Sean failed to find the key. We retired, egos wounded.

Wisely, we decided against the long route needed to bypass this obstacle and made a circular route back to the Puerto Jubiley to the south on an old "Camino Real" drovers trail.

Beers in Torvizcon!

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<![CDATA[Rio Verde and the Petrified Waterfall]]>https://elperronegro.com/rio-verde-and-the-petrified-waterfall/639068b3f2e66867b989699cTue, 22 Nov 2022 10:22:00 GMT

A circular walk around the head of the Rio Verde on a cold and blustery day.

When I got up this morning it was 15C. A couple of hours later I arrived at the start point of our walk, only some 300m higher than Lanjaron above the Rio Verde. It was only 4C!

with a severe windchill. Only last week I had been walking all week in t-shirt and shorts. Anyway, we had a rather chilly, but wonderful short circular, walk visiting the Petrified Waterfall above the Rio Verde. Saw nobody else walking all day (I wonder why?).

The day gradually warmed up a bit and we ended the day in the welcoming bar of Los Faroles for beer and tapas.Here's some photos. So much beauty and so close

Heres some photos

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<![CDATA[Walking on the Island of La Palma]]>https://elperronegro.com/walking-on-the-island-of-la-palma/6379ec69e36f841e6d3378aaSun, 20 Nov 2022 09:26:33 GMT

Just come back from a week long walking holiday to the island of La Palma. We completed 5 of the best hikes the island has to offer and seen some amazing scenery, especially of the volcanic kind.

We went with our Nomads Walking Group, 16 of us in total. The hotel was excellent as were the guides, Jill and Pete, that we used. The transport company was reliable and efficient. For Kiersten and I we enjoyed the Ruta de los Volcanes the best as it took us over terrain we had never before experienced. Recommended if you are ever on the island.

In the 5 days walking we covered 66 kilometers of terrain involving 2061 metres of ascent and a huge 5045 metres of descent. Not bad for someone who had a pacemaker implant 6 weeks ago! I found the uphill necessitaed very slow going to maintain constant heart rate, but on the level and downhill I was fine and back to my normal speeds.

We stayed at Hotel Las Olas, just 5 minutes drive from the airport

Walking on the Island of La Palma
Moonrise, Hotel Las Olas
Walking on the Island of La Palma
Mt Teide in Tenerife at sunrise from our bedroom terrace

This is a short summary of each the walks we completed.

WALK 1 - RIM OF THE CALDERA DE TABURIENTE

To get to the starting point of this spectacular walk we were taken up by private bus from sea level and through all five different vegetation levels, to the highest peak of the island (Roque de Los Muchachos). From here we walked over to a viewing point and later along the highest rim of the Island.

After visiting the superb viewing platform of the Espigon del Roque (2382m), we covered the peaks of Roque de los Muchachos (2426m), Pico de la Cruz (2351m), Piedra Llana (2314m) and Pico de la Nieve (2232m) before dropping down to a meeting point with the bus. This whole rim of the Caldera gives relatively easy walking on good, but sometimes rough paths with always spectacular views on the right hand side down into the crater.

This is a superb first day walk which helps to orientate you to the island. It gave us a birds eye view over La Palma all the way over to the neighbouring islands of Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro. The National Park of Caldera de Taburiente and it's huge crater was always at our feet.

WALK 2 - RUTA DE LOS VOLCANES

In our opinion this walk this is a highlight of the island. It visited lots of extinct volcanoes along the central rim of Cumbre Vieja. Just an incredible days hiking in spectacular scenery that was just so unusual and outside of most peoples experience. A "must-do" walk!

We started at the visitor center at "Area Recreativa El Pilar". From here we skirted Pico Birigoya and climbed slowly through the trees until we reached the huge crater at Hoya Negro and Pico Nambroque, which exploded in 1949.

Then its was onto view the huge lava fields of Maltorada before climbing to the crater and peak of Volcan de la Deseada (1945m). From there a gentle descent past Volcan Cabrito brought us to the crater of Volcan Martin (1529m). We descended through sandy lava fields on good tracks to our waiting transport at the Refugio Fuente de los Roques.

WALK 3 - CALDERA TABURIENTE AND RUTA ANGUSTIAS

Another spectacular transfer took us to a magnificent viewpoint right into the huge erosion crater of the National Park. The steep windy road zig zagged continuously up the gorge to arrive at the Mirador de los Brecitos (1030m).

We left the bus here and walked down into the very heart of the crater on superb paths surrounded by steep walls. Around and above us rise the peaks along the rim of the Caldera de Taburiente that we visited on our first hike. Truly dramatic scenery!

We arrived at the "Playa de Taburiente" where we took a lunch break and admired the scenery. Then its down through steep forest tracks to join the river at the Barranco de Angustias. Once down we had the option to visit the "waterfall of colours" and then we followed the valley downstream through the gorge of the Rio Angustias to the finish.

A bar with cold beer was conveniently only a few kilometres further!

WALK 4 - THE WILD NORTH, El TABLADO, COAST

Another diverse walk today. A beautiful transfer showed us a big part of the north eastern part of the island. The walk started in one of Europes last big laurel forests at the "Centro de Visitantes La Zarza". We dropped down into the rain forests of the Barranco Magdelena where impressive trees and huge ferns accompanied us. All of a sudden the view opened up as we climbed up out of the Barranco. We were allowed a view over the rugged northern coast of La Palma with its numerous deep canyons.

We dropped down to the east of the hamlet of Don Pedro to the Mirador de la Calzada. This is a superb viewpoint over the coast. From here we saw the route ahead. A very steep, rocky but well graded path led down in a series of zig zags to the valley bottom just above the sea. What followed was a tough ascent but we took it slow and it was on a good path.

This brought us to the tiny hamlet of El Tablado, where time seemed to have stopped 60 years ago. We convinced the small bar to open for us and all sat across the main village street drinking bottles of beer. Only 1 car passed in a hour! Our bus picked us up just above the village.

WALK 5 - THE SOUTHERN VOLCANOES

A short transfer led to the south west of the island. We started at the Mirador de Charca where we followed the long distance GR130 track through pine forests and alongside vineyards. With constant wonderful views towards the coast we arrived near the village of Fuencaliente, the home of the largest winery of the island.

The excitement built as we started to descend into volcanic territory, walking towards the coast. The good path descended gradually all the way down to the lighthouse. On our the way down we are able to have a look at the crater of the Teneguia volcano (which exploded in 1971) and walked through incredible lava fields that stretched down to the lighthouse. Here, nature is only now starting to get a grip back into the landscape. An experience not to be missed.

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<![CDATA[Back in the saddle!]]>https://elperronegro.com/back-in-the-saddle/636234dd1a54a98f1b9da6d1Wed, 02 Nov 2022 09:18:58 GMT

Nice to be back out with the walking group this week. We headed to the autumnal forests of the Sierra de Huetor, north of Granada to explore some new tracks. Gentle hiking in glorious surroundings. Good to be back.

Back in the saddle!
Back in the saddle!
Back in the saddle!
Back in the saddle!
Back in the saddle!
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<![CDATA[DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him]]>https://elperronegro.com/they-can-rebuild-him/63468fe2949f6920bb7de02cWed, 12 Oct 2022 10:16:22 GMT

Just home after spending 5 days in the Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves in Granada having a couple of operations replacing my DAI, "Desfibrilador Automatico Implantable" or Pacemaker to be less exact.

I had the old DAI implanted in the left hand side of my chest, below the collar bone) since February 2022. It's job was to synchronise the right and left ventricles of the heart to beat at the same rate, together. It was working really well and my hill walking performance and energy had really improved during the spring and summer. It also provided a backstop which in case of major heart problem would attempt to reset the heart automatically. A reassuring, if expensive (€18000) thing to carry around with you.

Unfortunately a growth, a Pyrogenic Granuloma to be exact, had developed over the site of the old wound. This is when the bodies immune system overreacts to invasion of a foreign body. My mistake was that I didn't go back to the Surgeon as soon as this started showing, I had waited until it got worse, much worse. This meant a simple minor operation became a bigger problem.

I spent pretty much the whole day, Monday the 3rd of October, with my friend Felipe, in and out of the hospital trying to get admitted properly. The surgeon had admitted me verbally and had room for me, but the paperwork all had to be caught up on. A bit of a frustrating day but by the end I was installed in the 3-bed ward 804.

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him

I had been fasting all Monday so was grateful for some food on Monday evening as the fasting would begin on Tuesday ready for the mid-day operation. I was called for the operation just before 2pm on Tuesday afternoon and wheeled down into the lower floor labyrinth of the surgical operating theatres. I was met by a team of at least 6 doctors and nurses. Didn't they look young!

The "team" all knew their jobs and began racing around preparing me for the operation whilst chatting and talking to me, putting me at ease. Very friendly group. I felt in safe hands and at ease. I remember the anaesthetist saying "Great Dreams Richard" ... and then nothing. Blank.

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him

I came round in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ward sometime later. Not sure how long I was in the operating theatre but may have been 3-4 hours. I don't like ICUs but I knew what to expect this time. IV fluids, bed baths, constantly measured and evaluated. Fortunately I was out of there the following day, Wednesday, at midday and back into my old ward.

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him

I had had two operations. Firstly, to implant a new DAI in the right hand side of my upper chest. 3 cables connected from this to different sections of the heart. The second operation cut out the old DAI from the left hand side of my upper chest and then cut out the offending Pyrogenic Granuloma. The wound (hole!) was packed with wads and bandages and covered.

My ward consisted of two other "inmates", Rafael and Antonio, both in their 70s. As I glanced around I reflected that I was in considerably better shape than either, fortunately. In Spain on the social health system, the family is supposed to perform menial tasks at the bedside and not take up the time of the nursing staff. Both Mrs R and Mrs A were in attendance. But, where was Mrs H? All of a sudden, like an angelic vision appearing out of the gloom came Mrs H from the corridor outside the ward. Yes, Kiersten had come to the rescue. An emotional moment for both of us.

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him

Later that afternoon I was told a further operation would be necessary on Thursday to close the wound that they had left open. They hadn’t closed it during the original operation as they were wary of infection. Now after courses of antibiotics and medications they decided that it could indeed be closed. Nurse Mercedes came to clean the wound. Now that was a funny experience.

I had thought it would be an open wound, almost like a burn. When the bandages were unpacked it turned out the hole was larger and deeper than I had suspected. 4 wads had been packed into the hole which was 5cm long, 2cm wide and 5cm deep. I peered down into the wound and saw this deep red mass of blood vessels from the inside of my chest. Nearly made me sick. I couldn’t look after that.

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him

Then I had a funny experience. Nurse Mercedes warned me she was going to spray an ice cold liquid into the cavity followed by an alcohol based cleanser. I gritted my teeth expecting the worst. The sprays entered the wound. What did I feel? Absolutely nothing. Nada. I never have thought about this before but I guess the inside of the body doesn’t contain nerve ending so doesn’t have the same sensations as the outer skin. It doesn’t feel cold, heat, pain?

During the night my fellow inmate, R who had just been brought back from his operation, kept trying to escape from his bed and leave the hospital despite prison guard, Mrs R, constantly admonishing him. Honestly, it would have made a good reality TV series.

I was doing a lot of bloody fasting! I had to fast again for the Thursday operation. Due to more urgent tasks they came for me at 3pm and appeared back in the ward at 6pm. Kiersten was waiting. The operation to close the wound had gone well, all that remained was to make sure there was no infection. I was able to finally eat a normal meal schedule again and the recovery process could begin.

Friday morning I had expectations to be let loose after the weekend but a nice surprise came before 2pm when a doctor told me I could leave hospital. We were ecstatic. I could go home! All that was needed was a nurse to take out the catheter, the two IV drips from my arms and, more importantly for me, the very uncomfortable IV drip from my neck. Why the neck? Shortest way to get medications into the heart.

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him
The neck IVs 

Imagine our frustration then when the following scene occurred all down to a little gadget that was attached to my DAI wound. The gadget (Smith-Nephew Pico 7) extracted air from the wound thus keeping up the pressure of the bandage on the wound. It promoted healing. I asked a question to the nurse about it and she went to check with a doctor. What a big mistake that turned out to be.

5 minutes later a group of paramedics arrived to transfer Mr and Mrs A from Granada to Almeria hospital. Ah well, shouldn’t take long to change beds and get him out of here should it? Unfortunately, Mrs A, who had hard a really tough few weeks looking after Mr A, had 3 travel bags not the 2 allowed. What?

Evidently, the ambulance wasn’t insured for that many bags. A heated discussion broke out between paramedics and patients, everybody talking at once. Phone calls were made to superiors and nursing staff intervened to cool down the situation. Complete chaos reigned. After a further hour and a half of me listening to this a way forward was found (Mrs A would find alternative ways). Mr A departed. I wished him good luck.

At around 5pm the nurse arrived and extracted all the bits and pieces that were sticking out of me and I was free to go. Or was I? There was a couple of final twists to the tale.

The first came after the catheter was removed. I couldn't leave the hospital until I had urinated. Doh, how frustrating! So Kiersten kept filling up bottles with tap water as quick as I was throwing them down my throat. All I wanted was to get home. After another 30 minutes I was able to do a small amount. Right that's it, it's enough, lets go.

Kiersten and I started walking towards the reception area and exit of the cardio wards. That’s when we were informed that I couldn’t leave the hospital without being in a wheelchair. Not on my own two feet. Maybe there had been some prior insurance event that had sparked this ridiculous state of affairs? Ok, no problem, lets find a wheelchair. And, of course, where was a wheelchair when you really, desperately, needed one? We searched around for another 30 minutes to no avail. Sod this!

That was when I made a probably illegal escape from the hospital, Kiersten and I furtively sneaking around between floors and trying to avoid doctors and nurses. Like something out of a James Bond movie. Me, trying not to look like a patient just out of two operations. Eventually we made the exit of the hospital proper.

FREEDOM!

DAI Part 2 - They Can Rebuild Him

A thousand thanks to the Doctor's, nurses and porters at the Hospital Universitario Virgen de las Nieves in Granada. You are not only professionals but also warm and friendly carers, enthusiastic in their work. I don't think one could ever say that they enjoyed their stay in hospital, but I came close.

Also thanks for the many messages of support over the past week. Much appreciated. For those who have supported Kiersten with offers of help, lifts etc. I thank you. Special gratitude to Felipe and Sean. I am out of hospital now and my eyes are turning back to the hills I so love. Will take some time and patience so I'm not going to rush.

"The mountains are calling and I must go" (John Muir)

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<![CDATA[Wasting Hospital Time]]>https://elperronegro.com/wasting-hospital-time/6336a0115ae61b1d19a0d2edFri, 30 Sep 2022 08:00:17 GMT

Yesterday I found myself at the centre of a dispute between the surgeon and my health insurance company.

I had entered the hospital the previous morning. Fasted for 30 hours and had an uncomfortable IV inserted. I needed an operation on a minor infection, namely the removal of a Pyogenic Granuloma on top of an old scar. The surgeon needed to see how deep it went and if it affected the placement or had indeed infected the area of the defibrillator. H required authority from the insurance company (Sanitas) to replace the defibrillator battery and possibly the defibrillator itself IF he found it necessary.

The insurance company didn't want to pay out up to a further €18k for something installed only last January. Yes, I have an expensive piece of kit inserted in my chest and yes, I can see both arguments. Truly. Consequently, nothing was done.

I don't hate hospitals per se. What I find gives me the most stress is being in the same room for days. Sure, it was a private room. It had en suite, TV, nurses on call etc. But it drove me crazy. I started getting headaches due to looking at small screens on my phone and kindle etc. Missed some proper human interaction. Felt same last time I was in for 5 days. That's why I think a ward would be better for me. At least I could practice my Spanish and make a fool of myself.

The surgeon is now aiming to have the operation done on the Spanish National Health service on Monday. All a bit frustrating, as I had wasted two days and an overnight in hospital, together with associated stress, fasting and more holes in the body. All for nothing.

Now at home indulging in comfort food, alcohol and TV

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<![CDATA[The Heart of the Watermelon]]>https://elperronegro.com/the-heart-of-the-watermelon/632d69d047cade4e39a7d18eWed, 21 Sep 2022 08:10:00 GMT

Life on the edge! Today we've been climbing mountains again. This time the superb summit of Corazon de la Sandia (1885m) on the Alayos de Dilar ridge. This is located in the Cumbres Verdes range of hills, just south east of Granada.

This ascent proves you don't always have to climb the highest mountains to get the best thrills!

Corazon de la Sandia initially seems like a good name to call a peak. That is, until you realise that it means "Heart of the Watermelon" which is a sort of let down. A bit like finding out the Matterhorn really means "little white daisy"!

A bit warm and humid in the approach "Rambla" until we reached the ridge line and got some light winds. Thereafter a superb track to the mountain, with an ultimate 50 metre easy scramble to reach the sharp summit. Great views of the Alayos del Dilar ridge.

Return down the fantastic high level track past Picacho Alto to the Collado de Abantos and then descent west down a well graded trail then north on forest roads back to the start.

Good to have my daughter Emma walking with us today.

15km, 991m ascent, 6 hours

The Heart of the Watermelon
The approach along the Dilar valley trail
The Heart of the Watermelon
The endless "rambla"
The Heart of the Watermelon
At the col between Picacho Alto and Corazon de la Sandia
The Heart of the Watermelon
Heading towards the distant peak
The Heart of the Watermelon
Under a bright blue sky
The Heart of the Watermelon
The col before the peak
The Heart of the Watermelon
My daughter, Emma. Munching!
The Heart of the Watermelon
The Heart of the Watermelon
The Heart of the Watermelon
The summit pyramid
The Heart of the Watermelon
The short scramble to the summit
The Heart of the Watermelon
The Heart of the Watermelon
The Heart of the Watermelon
Path by-passing Picacho Alto
The Heart of the Watermelon
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<![CDATA[Scrambling with my daughter Claire]]>https://elperronegro.com/scrambling-with-my-daughter-claire/632d652647cade4e39a7d0bcThu, 15 Sep 2022 07:57:00 GMT

It's been great having my two daughters, Emma and Claire, over this week. Yesterday I took Claire on one of my favourite, relatively easy (S1/S2) mountain scrambles that she has always wanted to go on. The north side of the Peñon de la Mata, north of Granada.

You can tell by the many smiles just how much she enjoyed it. Short video below that gives a good idea of the type of scrambling involved.

Scrambling with my daughter Claire
The northern side of the Peñon de la Mata
Scrambling with my daughter Claire
Me. Moon. Mountain.
Scrambling with my daughter Claire
Scrambling with my daughter Claire
Scrambling with my daughter Claire
Spectacular day today. Family day out! Magnificent scenery on the Peñon de la Mata
Scrambling with my daughter Claire
Grumpy family
Scrambling with my daughter Claire
Chilling out amongst the warm limestone of the Sierra de Huétor today. In my element!
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<![CDATA[El Fuerte, the tough one!]]>https://elperronegro.com/el-fuerte-the-tough-one/632d677347cade4e39a7d108Tue, 13 Sep 2022 08:00:00 GMT

Photos from yesterdays ascent of El Fuerte outside Frigiliana. A tough ascent followed by a scrambling descent of it's SW ridge which at times involved combined "tarzan-like" tactics to overcome

The bar session afterwards seemed to go on forever, which of course it did! Good to catch up with Bailey Nola Vernon in the bar! Was great to have my daughters Claire and Emma came along

El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
Claire and Leanne on the summit of El Fuerte
El Fuerte, the tough one!
El Fuerte, the tough one!
Starting the descent of the SW ridge
El Fuerte, the tough one!
Well on the way to the bar!
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<![CDATA[Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!]]>https://elperronegro.com/wildfire-los-guajares-lecrin/631efbbf5464f97530077252Mon, 12 Sep 2022 09:42:56 GMT

Some photos and comments from the wildfire in the Los Guajares and Pinos de Valle hills which started on 8th September at 14:00. Tragic circumstances and kudos to all those involved but it did lead to some spectacular imagery

Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
8th September 17:10 - I think we can say goodbye to the sun for today
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
10th September 19:55 - the smoke from the smouldering fires at #iflosguajares drifting north tonight bringing atmospheric conditions to sunset. Hopefully the fire will be controlled soon. Thanks to all the brave professionals trying to bring an end to this.
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
10th September 21:48 - the scale of the tragedy can only be truly seen at night. This view from Lanjaron, with Pinos de Valle in the middle distance. To the left a wall of flames. The light from the Ermita Cristo del Zapato on the hill above Pinos visible too.
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
12th Sept at 06:45 - more fires broken out overnight to the south of the range towards Motril. This taken from Lanjaron 6:45am
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
8th September 22:43 - fire raging in the hills
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
10th September at 22:39 - needed Kiersten Hartley Rowland (and her camera/lens!) to grab this spectacular photo of the Ermita Cristo del Zapato above Pinos de Valle tonight.
Wildfire in the los Guajares hills!
Thank you to all those involved in fighting and eventually eliminating the Los Guajares fire. A truly devastating environmental disaster for the area
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<![CDATA[Migration Time in the Straits]]>https://elperronegro.com/migration-time-in-the-straits/63145e2760f76a1a83f2a28eSun, 04 Sep 2022 08:45:03 GMTMigration Time in the Straits
Where Europe Meats Africa. Jebel Musa (842m) in Morocco, viewed from the shores near Tarifa today
Migration Time in the Straits

Let's go see the bird migration she said. Thing is, I'm more of a landscape than a bird photographer. And let's face it, landscapes don't move, well not much anyway. In contrast those little feathered blighters have wings that can flap hundreds of times a minute, so allowing them to pass overhead and into the distance to Africa before you've managed to turn your camera on.

Migration Time in the Straits
"Well, I can't see any birds Kiersten"

So all I can say is ... it's been a bit of a challenge. For my camera and lens and especially for me. We all have our limitations when our feathered friends arrive in the neighbourhood eh? Here's a few of the semi-decent ones. Notice that most are stood still! I've thrown the other 793 blurred ones away

After all that, loved seeing these birds on their journey south. Good fun! For my proper bird photographer friends.... I was shooting moving birds at about 1/2500s and f6.3. I tried to keep ISO below 1600. Continuous AF + wide tracking. Sony A7iii + Tamron 150-500mm lens.

Migration Time in the Straits
Kestrel hovering over Tarifa beach
Migration Time in the Straits
Startled looking Cattle Egret
Migration Time in the Straits
Whimbrel (Evidently!)

Today I managed to get a sighting of a lesser spotted Kiersten Rowland. This shy, cranky and unsociable bird likes to keep well away from others and is often found hidden away in shrub land. This rare species would love to migrate south for the winter but are rather poor and ungainly flyers.

Migration Time in the Straits

Really enjoyed my first visit to see the raptor migration. It's an amazing and interesting sight. We had just a few hours scanning the skies this morning before heading home. Here's one of my favourite raptors, the Short Toed Eagle.

Migration Time in the Straits

Birding Locations Visited

Migration Time in the Straits

My booking.com review of the Hotel Mesón de Sancho.

Lovely place to stay just outside Tarifa, but eat elsewhere if you are vegetarian

Liked · The hotel is lovely and in a superb location for the bi-annual bird migration through the Strait of Gibraltar. Our economy room was huge with a large private terrace to the rear. There was air conditioning and a large bathroom. We did like the quiet! By that I mean that no external noise could be heard from within the room. The hotel is tastefully appointed and has a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by mature trees.

Disliked · The restaurant menu has very traditional spanish cuisine. I had some rather oily lamb ribs, ok but overpriced. My partner is vegetarian and there wasn't much of interest on the menu for her. Her omelette and chips arrived with no accompaniment and no imagination was given to provide any quality food. How easy is it in a country full of quality vegetables to provide something interesting for vegetarians?

Migration Time in the Straits

Places we can recommend to eat in Tarifa for Vegetarians

We found a lovely place that in contrast to the Hotel Mesón de Sancho (see above), actually tried creating interesting vegetarian alternatives. It was called "Helena's Kitchen" and we must give it a huge shout out here.

Friendly and helpful staff served us Eggs Benedict on toast and a Veggie toast that were unique, reasonably priced and simply delicious. Photos below. Not hard is it? Link to their website below.

Helena’s Kitchen - Helena’s Kitchen, Escuela de Cocina y Eventos Gastronómicos
Migration Time in the Straits
Migration Time in the Straits
Migration Time in the Straits
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<![CDATA[Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail]]>https://elperronegro.com/walk-laguna-misterioso-sierra-nevada/6305e0edaa335a22c31aa346Wed, 24 Aug 2022 08:20:47 GMT

I was supposed to go rock climbing but due to the disappearance (or disintegration!) of my 25+ year old rock boots this had to be cancelled. I had already bought our lift passes so we decided to go for a high level stroll instead and invited a few of our friends to join us.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

We decided to revisit the quiet and relatively unknown lake called, Lagunillo Misterioso, an enchanting place. We would then drop down the streams to see possibly the highest waterfall in the Sierra Nevada, the Chorreras de Molinillo. We knew would see some dramatic sights but didn't actually expect to see much in the way of nature, flora and fauna, this being August after all.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

We caught the Veleta chair to 3000 metres and then descended on good paths to the reservoir at las Yeguas. Skirting the western side of the lake we dropped down and located a faint track that meandered to Lagunillo Misterioso.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

The lake remains invisible until only about a minutes walk away, guess that why it is so named? It's a lovely spot to sit on the banks of the lake and take in the peace and serenity. Above the scenery changes rapidly into a chaotic sea of stones and boulders which rise up to the impressive and dramatic north west ridge of the Tozal del Cartujo. Always reminds me of Scotland's Isle of Skye this scene.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

We decided to stick to as many green areas as we could for this walk. Green = water = life! We headed down ribbons of green inter spaced by small streams. Not too many flowers still existed this late into the summer but we did spot plenty holding onto life, including the beautiful Trumpet Gentian.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

We did spot the elusive Bearded Vulture, a rare sight in the Sierra Nevada and also a small weasel that seemed interested in what us humans were contemplating.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Rather than visit the waterfall we headed to the source of the Rio Durcal where streams converge into this year round watercourse. Here we sat and reflected, possibly on the meaning of life!

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

An uphill return to join a ski road and back down to the middle station to catch a gondola down completed this moderate walk of nearly 9 kilometres, 250 metres ascent and 609 metres of descent.

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

Even in August Nature and Beauty prevail

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