My Irish buddies arrived slowly but surely, bringing with them the necessary things they needed to survive and climb in the south of Spain.
Like whiskey and rain jackets and a hat.
At least that was the case when my friend Kyle showed up, rght on the heels of massive winds that had rocked my tent and rain that had turned the dirt around me to mud. Cute! But then i got cold and all the mud froze, so that was a nice change.
We climbed and took advantage of the couple sunny days we had. We took the local bus to the next big village, Alora, and got coffee and went grocery shopping. The bus was full of old ladies on their way to the market, and they gave Pedro the bus driver so much shit in Spanish and it was hilarious. You know he just loved it.
We pointed at and subsequently ate delicious things at a bakery while waiting for our bus back to El Chorro. Kyle’s birthday ice cream cake only melted a little bit. Walking back up the hill to the Olive Branch with all of our groceries was a chore, and all in all getting groceries turned into a 4 hour adventure.
Yeah, never taking for granted the convenience of a car or a grocery shop ever again!
It was a good week and I was so glad to have my friend there, but I was tired. I was so excited to be around people who could climb so well and so hard, but I couldn’t. I can’t keep up. I’m not that good, and I struggle on some of the easiest routes on the wall. I still maintain that I’ve never cried on a climb, but I sure as hell got off one and burst into tears.
I was not a happy climbing camper. But then I started laughing at myself, and Kyle cracked up, and it was a lot better. Always surround yourself with people who still like you and think you’re funny even after they have seen you looking like shit and at your absolute worst. Hold onto those people, because they keep you sane.
At night we hung out with everyone, and I met my redheaded doppleganger who probably could be my best friend in another life. We watched people jump in the pool (still avoiding it), sang songs about climbing hard things, and elbowed each other when cooking dinner. We played games and listened to terrible jokes from Gary and entertained each other and laughed, so much laughing.
The dogs became my favorite part of the day and they followed us to the crags nearly every morning. I still maintain that I never bribed them to come along (as Kyle insisted I did) and that they simply followed me out of love and a desire for butt scratches. Whatever their motivations, I loved it. Rent a crag dog!
Other Belfast buddies soon arrived at the campsite below ours, a short walk away and out of earshot. I had all the benefits of getting to see my lovely friends, whom I missed dearly, while still maintaining most of my sanity in my little quiet tent. Yay! There was, of course, much drinking and bantering and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Climbing with them during the day was also a hoot.
We paired up on a multipitch which is fun, but exhausting. I lead the hardest pitch to a terrible hanging belay, my partner pulls a rock off the wall, I freeze. At the top he accidentally kicks his helmet off the crag- that’s a goner. We abseil to anchor points we can’t see and I get frustrated and annoyed because the wind won’t stop blowing long enough to untangle anything. We finally make it to the bottom and I practically kiss the ground.
My last day in El Chorro was spent hugging puppies and saying goodbye to friends. I’m pretty sad to be leaving and to finally have to really say goodbye to my friends from Ireland. I want to be flying back to Belfast with them. Mostly I don’t want to leave the sun.
But I suck it up and say goodbye, and make my way to a little border town called Huelva on my way to catch my flight in Portugal.
And that’s when the shit goes down.