“Dogs don’t like me. It is a simple law of the universe, like gravity. I am not exaggerating when I say that dogs that have not moved from the sofa in years will, at the sniff of me passing outside, rise in fury and hurl themselves at shut windows. I have seen tiny dogs, no bigger than a fluffy slipper, jerk little old ladies off their feet and drag them over open ground in a quest to get at my blood and sinew. Every dog on the face of the earth wants me dead.”, Bill Bryson – ‘In a Sunburned Country’
The next morning it was raining, raining quite hard, raining very hard and after breakfast and with no immediate prospect of improvement Kim decided to go shopping to buy some shoes she needed which left me free to visit the historical centre.
The weather was thoroughly horrid with gusty winds that turned my cheap umbrella inside out and sharp squally showers which tested even the most boasting of waterproof clothing claims.
I walked for a while and then as though by magic the sky cleared, the clouds blew away in an instant and I didn’t need the umbrella and the waterproof clothing any more. That is what I like about Spain, when it rains in England in the morning it generally rains all day but in Spain it can quickly blow away.
I walked to the edge of the town, through the old gate of the defensive walls of the old Arab Alcazaba and then spotted a path that I estimated would take me to a viewing spot at ground level below the bridge. I asked a local man and he confirmed my judgement and so I optimistically set off. It was a steep downhill path of loose shale and after a quarter of a mile or so I began to have doubts but I had reached that point when I felt committed to carry on even though my confidence was by now beginning to evaporate as quickly as a kettle left to boil dry on a burning hob!
And so I carried on, forever going down into the canyon and increasingly regretting my adventurous resolve to carry on. Eventually I reached the bottom of the slippery path and my worst fears were confirmed. This was a dead end and there was no way of returning to the town without either advanced mountaineering skills or alternatively retracing my steps up a very steep slope.
On the positive side I did get some good pictures of the bridge!
The path was quite remote and deserted and on the way back I began to worry about the prospect of running into a dog. You may remember that it is fair to say that I am terrified of dogs – I suffer from cynophobia. This was exactly the sort of place that I would not want to be confronted with a loose canine beast.
Anyway, I got most of the way back and came to the edge of town and then was confronted with my worst fear. Here was a massive dog with the scent of blood in its nostrils staring down at me from the top of a ten foot wall. I can’t tell you what sort of dog it was because my brain had dissolved into jelly and I wasn’t thinking straight. It desperately wanted to jump down and rip my throat out but luckily it was more afraid of heights than I am of dogs and it couldn’t bring itself to make the leap. I rushed past, my heart thumping like a bass drum from the combination of the stiff walk and the dog scare.
A good friend of mine who loves dogs once asked me why I don’t like them. I tried to explain that I am genuinely afraid of them, I don’t like them anywhere near me, I don’t like the smell of their sweating bodies, I don’t like the feel of their greasy hair, I don’t like their slavering tongues and their slobber anywhere near my hands. Like all people who like dogs he didn’t understand my explanation. Some people don’t like cats – I do but if people come to my house and explain that they don’t like them then I put them in a different room and anyway a cat would have more manners than to keep pestering people, they are so much more intelligent and socially aware.
As Bill said…
“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s anuses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.”
Unscathed but shaking uncontrollably with fear I negotiated the final few steps and returned to the safety of the town and slipped inside the old Arab gate and into the labyrinth of twisting narrow streets, still damp and dripping with residual rain. I followed them for a while dropping down again towards the bottom of the canyon but this time on the opposite side of the town.
Eventually I came to the two earlier bridges and then to the Baños Árabes, the Arab Baths which are claimed to be the most complete and most important example of its type in all of Spain. It was impressive I have to say and well worth the €3 admission charge to go inside.
I almost had time to go to the secret gardens which looked well worth a visit but it was starting to rain again and I was due to meet Kim in fifteen minutes, so I turned down the opportunity and returned directly to the hotel.
Kim was already back. She hadn’t got the shoes she needed because the shop hadn’t got them in the right colour but to make up for this disappointment she had alternatively bought some shoes that she wanted!
This is another of my phobias – Shoe Shops…