GR 130 - Los Sauces to Barlovento 5.7 km
Ridiculous to say that neither of us knew exactly where the GR130 begins in Los Sauces despite the fact that we are fairly regular visitors to this busy little town. Luckily though, our hunch was right and after heading up by the higher plaza and hanging a right just after the Farmacia into Calle Carretera Gonzalez, we spotted the red and white stripe of the GR130. Turning right at the T-junction at the end, we eventually found ourselves at a rather new looking plaza which we had never seen before - and which was an apparent dead end.
A lady passing by enquired as to whether we were trying to get to Barlovento. Our request for the GR130 was met with the usual blank look and it is only now that I realise we might have better success by asking for the Camino Real! Anyway, we agreed it was Barlovento that we wanted to go to and she indicated a set of steps we should go down. Hopefully, we were now on our way!
I was looking forward to this walk with some slight trepidation because there were obviously going to be some rather steep bits, not least the barranco as you leave Los Sauces. We have driven past this many, many times and seen something of the path as it descends down to the banana warehouse and into the barranco, crosses the road and then disappears back up the other side. Our usual comment is something along the lines of, 'I don't know how you get up there!'
Then of course there is Las Cabezadas to negotiate, between Barlovento and Los Sauces. Viewing it from the main road, it is characterised by a cascade of terraces spilling down the hillside and if this was any other island, you would pay to go and see them and then some more as locals danced in traditional costume. Vamos a ver ...
Having ambled our way along the small side streets of Los Sauces, we reached the end of the road and could overlook the barranco we were about to traverse. It didn't look too bad after all. Did it?
Going down was no problem (nice cave to your right just at the start) and before very long we were on the other side, high above the road. 'Nice patch of greenery of there,' says David ... and the next thing we found ourselves in was a jungle of ňame (a water-loving root vegetable with huge leaves). Obviously there was a spring nearby as we battled our way through the over-friendly trifids, slurping through the mud.
Doing our best to avoid brambles which tried to trip us up, catch us from the sides and even dangle in front of us, we burst through onto a far easier path and agricultural land only to spot a cave city over to our right. They looked a bit like terraced houses!
Ah, but now we came to civilisation and head to head with the steep road of Las Cabezadas. And when I say steep, I mean ridiculously steep – and for some reason this seemed to amuse me rather than anything else. I mean, it was actually funny! I I kept trying to get a photo that would capture it but of course you don't see it all at once – and that's probably a good thing. After a while of course, it became less amusing and the hot sun started to make the skin on my arms prickle. I began to seek out patches of shade where I could pause and maybe find a bucket of cold water to put my head in while the other half of the party was calling out, 'Come on! Let's crack on!' I think I met myself more than once on that road.
But eventually it stopped being silly steep and was just steep. And we had lots to keep us interested with houses lining the road, a few plums to eat that had fallen to the ground and plants that we can't get to grow, a riot of colour jostling for roadside positions.
And then we were away from the country road again, first of all with a stunning view back over Los Llanos, now impressively far away from us, and then walking along pretty paths hidden from the world by a mass of greenery. The glee at getting wet from dripping ferns when you have just been at gas mark regulo 8 only a short time ago is immeasurable.
Arriving at a t-junction of paths, this was an obvious time for a treasure hunt for GR130 signs and with some hearty fern bashing by David, we found what we were looking for painted on a water pipe running along the ground. Ah yes, up and to the left. At the next junction, where the forest joined a concrete road we were faced with a choice of 3 different direction. Here, we weren't quite so lucky and made an abortive attempt in the wrong direction but at least could admire a natural spring with a selection of biblical figures around it. It transpired that the correct path was the concrete one at an impressive angle downhill. Of course, only to cross a little road and go back up a path on the other side.
But it was all easy going now as we eventually emerged from our hidden path into the backwaters of Barlovento. A billy goat looked a bit surprised to see us. 'You walked from Los Llanos?' he said. Yeah, it was nothing, man.
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