After last week’s productive days for the boat, with new stainless steel arch, davits, solar panels, and tender and outboard, Baz and I took the weekend to get out and about, exploring the salt reserve and beach on the northern side of the marina.
The previous Sunday we’d taken an 8Km hike along the southern beach, then cut inland across the saline pools and flats (of Las Salinas y Arenales de San Pedro del Pinatar) that are both a nature reserve and where salt is extracted for human use. While I love walking more than Baz, who doesn’t mind going if he has a reason for the walk, 8Km was a tad too far even for me! By the time we reached the town at the other end, we used the last of our reserves to choose just the right beach side bar to stop for beer and tapas, before finding the local supermarket and grabbing a taxi back to the boat. As we sat in the cab, we both agreed that the fare was well worth paying, as the walk home with four heavy carrier bags would have been torture!
What an amazing environment
The walk that morning though was amazing. It was so completely different to any environment I’ve come across before. Sea water is pumped into flat lakes that are laid out in a rough grid, all interconnected with 1-2 metre high walls made from the original sandy dirt when the lakes were excavated. The walls are reinforced in places with rough cut marble and stone that looks as if it was dumped there by builders and stone masons.
The sea water enters the lake system from the Mediterranean at one end and is moved through the lakes via rustic wooden sluice gates. Each lake seems to have a varying salinity and this is reflected in the stark difference in water colour. Viewed from a distance, the lakes look like a grand patchwork quilt, sporting colours of blues, aqua and pinks. Add differing levels of sunlight and shade from clouds, and the ever changing variety of hues is as beautiful as it is alien to view.
The lakes, particularly those sporting the relatively fresh sea water at the entry point, are home to a variety of flora and fauna. Flamingos in particular are inhabitants and there is a disco by the marina called Club Flamingo. In Spain, the council architects invest in their roundabouts, and as you will see in our YouTube video “Long Lunch Musings in Maraira”, they can be extravagant pieces of town art. The roundabouts usually reflect the local specialty, culture or produce, so it came as no surprise that the small roundabout leading towards the marina through the Salinas, sports a metal sculpture of a flamingo.
Salt lakes and windmill
We left the southern beach that Sunday with a goal of reaching a distant windmill situated on one of the ‘walls’ in the centre of the salt lakes. We noticed that while most of the lake wall paths were barred by gates, there was one that quite a few people were taking to and from the windmill. Barry had a reason for his walk – to reach and explore a chosen objective, and I happily made my way across the landscape that was so different to any I’d walked through before.
As we made our way across the walls of the lakes, we also noticed that different levels of sulphurous fumes arose from various corners of these diverse lakes. The colours in the lakes probably come from bacteria and microorganisms and these may well be responsible for the smells. One with black sludge and cream coloured salty foam scudded in a corner was particularly offensive to the nose.