Traverse 06 - Page 74

er, and with a "I'll help you, Pet!" he got the Enfield going. Neither was it sunny and warm, but 'Hey! It'll warm up the further south I go'. It didn't, and not heeding advice to avoid the mountains, over the Cantabrians I went and encountered snow. Like a winter wonderland with no traffic, it was absolutely beautiful but the bike was still jerky. I fiddled repeatedly with the carburettor which I was convinced was the cause of the bike’s malfunctioning. I stayed over- night in a mountain village called Puentenansa at a price on which I could have lived for a week in Mexico or Mumbai. Setting off in the morning I wondered why a farmer stared at me from a field, then realised I was on the wrong side of the road. Before descending from the stun- ningly pretty mountains, with their challenging narrow, winding roads, I stopped and surveyed the scene in front of me across the plains below. It was truly dismal. Low cloud the colour of gun metal filled the entire vista over endless, flat, winter-nude country- side. This region is called La Mancha, which in Arabic (they lived here for hundreds of years) means ‘dry, wa- terless land’. Not today it wasn’t. I was cold and my boots leaked. Time for the heated inner gloves I’d bought! I connected the terminals to the battery and set off. The effect was astounding and I smiled with comfort and relief. I wouldn’t have cared if I got electrocut- ed when the rain soaked through my outer gloves. The rain fell on the bleak plain, in the dreary towns and villages I rode through, on the storks in their pent- house nests, on the bare olive trees, the bank-burst rivers, and the desert- ed roads. But the rain in Spain fell mostly on me. The waterproof map was a boon; otherwise I’d have had a pocket full of papier mâché. Trying to laugh at the situation be- came harder and only the thought of meeting my daughter and the naїve belief that eventually it would stop raining kept me going. Then, when sheltering in a café, I saw the news on TV. Floods in Jerez, people being res- TRAVERSE 74 cued from their roofs by boat. I pressed on south staying at me- dieval Medina de Rioseco where, in torrents of rain I fell off the bike and was admonished by an elderly Span- iard who clearly thought I shouldn’t be riding a motorcycle if I couldn’t han- dle it. From frustrated, disappointed me, he received a mouthful of indig- nant English in return. A finger-ges- ture was useless as I was wearing two-finger motorcycle gloves. Much to my embarrassment I passed him several times when trying to find my way out of the town’s equally medie- val traffic system. I gave him my best scowl which he probably couldn’t see through the rain-splattered visor. Entering Salamanca, a helpful mo- ped rider at traffic lights led me to his friends’ hostel. Just round the corner from the massive, impressive plaza, I was their first customer and as res- toration was still taking place, the Enfield was allowed to reside inside amongst the rubble. I spent an enjoy- able evening in a bar overlooking the plaza where the wet cobblestones re-