Last night as we sat in the sunshine eating dinner we had frantic messages from Minerva saying that the house was not just leaking but there was a waterfall down the wall of xer bedroom. There was not much we could do beyond suggest using sheets once every towel in the house was used up, commiserating, and contemplating how to manage an insurance claim from the other side of the world.

That episode was a bit emblematic of our day today – the world did not fit right. We awoke to what appeared to be mist clouding the valley beneath us. It was only when we went outside that it became clear that it was in fact dust. Half of the Sahara desert seemed to have been carried to Southern Spain on a fierce, hot wind. The whole day has looked like a grey winter’s day while feeling like a blast-furnace; which really does your head in.

We moved about 250km North today and rather mucked things up through lack of planning. We are heading for Cuenca and today’s drive was intended to take us half way. We did some quick research this morning and found a cave complex on the way with prehistoric paintings – but the first tour was at 10am and it was 9am when we found it. So we drove North at speed through ever smaller roads and got there with minutes to spare – only to find the tour, and all the subsequent ones for the day, were booked out. If it wasn’t for the dust, the saving grace would have been the view from the cave entrance – but pictures do not capture the gray mist shrouding everything.

So we drove on through the dust and absolute oceans of olive trees. Seriously there are millions of trees on all sides broken only by white farmhouses with towers surveilling the orchards and villages with factories for processing the olives.

We stopped for a coffee and for a bocadillo in a couple of these villages having our refreshments surrounded by local farmers and wafting smells of pig farms. Finally we reached our destination – Almagro.

Almagro is famous in Spain for aubergines and theatre. It’s a small place but punches above its weight in terms of being a destination and so has bars and restaurants and a large plaza mayor. There are some lovely old buildings and quiet streets. The biggest disappointment has been our hotel which is, well, disappointing. But there’s a bar down the road which promises the ‘best gin and tonics in your life’. We can’t work out how to judge that after we told the waiter we’d rely on his judgement and we got different G&Ts, clearly personalized after his minute of interaction with us. They’re good, but I can’t tell if mine is the best in my life. Another sip maybe.

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