We arrived in Almerimar, a large marina West of Almeria run by the junta of Andalucia, after an overnight sail from Cartagena.  The entrance to the marina silts up, so they have to dredge it regularly.  They mark the dredged channel with red and green buoys that give the impression of landing on a runway. The first stop was the torre de control.  It’s the administration building for the marina, an incongruous mix of architectural styles capped by a lighthouse-looking tower whose main role seems to be symbolic.


We checked in quickly and found our berth.  It was a real tight squeeze between two other boats.  When we first saw the space, we balked because it looks so small.  Andrew drove us in without hitting on either side, though, so it wasn’t too bad.


We decompress then, as we tend to do after overnight sails.  Dinner that night was a vegetable paella in the meson “El Laurel.”  I found it amusing that people kept referring to the place as the “Meson restaurant.”  A meson is a type of restaurant in Spain, not a name for one.  It’s like my brother’s joke that he really loves the desayuno breakfasts offered in so many places in L.A.  


Almerimar is more than just a marina, though, it’s a complex of shops, restaurants and apartment buildings.  There’s also a golf course, but we didn’t realize that then.  What we did realize was that this was yet another part of Southern Spain ruined by the influx of English and German vacationers and expats.   The vast apartment buildings built up around the edge are now mostly empty.  Pues, la crisis, hombre.  Too much was built here and now no one wants to buy it.  Half the stores are closed for good and there seems to still be too many restaurants.  I don’t have any pictures from here because the place is so un-photogenic.  


There are nice beaches on either side of the marina, but the complex itself, which extends for miles, has no soul to it.  It does have a pretty steady influx of visitors, though.


Among those was a boat carrying two Americans, and two Swiss.  (No names have been used to protect the innocent and make the guilty feel better about themselves)  They pulled up right in front of us as we were enjoying a single afternoon caña.  They made a beeline from their berth to the welcoming arms of the Stumble Inn.  As they walked in we noticed their American accents and we struck up a conversation.  These would be the first Americans we had met sailing in the whole Mediterranean.  (For you fastidious types, I’m not counting the Americans we met in Athens – we travelled overland to get there)  The Swiss owner of the boat was the uncle of the young American kid.  He was a freshman at UCSC (go b. slugs!) who wanted to transfer to another UC school to study business.  I lobbied for Cal, which he was hopeful for.   Their other friend was an Indian-American who had worked at Xerox with the boat’s owner.  The other Swiss guy was the owner’s long-time friend.  They had been sailing East on their way to the boat’s winter home in Aguadulce.  


Well, they were thirsty for beer after their sail and we were happy to meet American-English speakers.  They kept buying us rounds.  We kept graciously accepting them.  The hours flew by.  We went out to dinner with the American contingent as the Swiss guys headed off to bed.  We had dinner and a bottle of wine and then stumbled back to our boat.


The next morning we woke up with something of a headache and very little recollection of the later parts of the previous evening.  We had an appointment to meet a man from the rental car company (with our car) at the control tower.  The long walk over and the formalities seemed unendurable.  For some reason the man’s portable credit card machine took ages to enact the transaction, adding to the time we spent struggling to be alive.


We saw the crew having breakfast at our usual spot, the imaginatively named Cafeteria Dársena 1.  It’s the cafeteria on dársena one.  We joined them for the tail end of their meal.  We went over some of the conversations that we had forgotten we had.  We all laughed at the youngster’s disbelief in the concept of hangovers – he called them “migraines”.   They had to head off so that everyone could make their flights and so we said our goodbyes.  They were a great bunch of guys to have run into. Afterward, we reflected on our luck at meeting not just our first Americans, but a cool boat of fellow sailors.  


Then we had to organize ourselves for the trip up to Madrid, a rather slow process in our state.  It wasn’t until the afternoon that we set out for Madrid.