Lara arrived looking very cool and sophisticated with her new backpack. She is here for the rest of our journey this summer and has certainly brought the clothes for it. John hauled her suitcase up the gangplank, lurching at one point, so Lara and I thought both he and the case would end up in the water. Now she in fully ensconced in the front cabin. That evening we took her to the Italian restaurant and shared a pasta dish and a mammoth pizza.
On Saturday we had a day in Cartagena showing Lara the sights. This time we took the lift up, went through the park to the viewpoint and then walked down into town, spying over the wall at the amphitheatre as we descended. We had a wander through the shopping center, actually going in shops. John and Lara bought shoes to swim in. They both look froglike in them. The shoes are odd looking things; the big toe goes one side of a rubber slot and the rest fit into a pocket on the other, like filled in flip flops. After our shopping we sat for a coffee and then made our way back through town to the tapas bar John and I had watched the England match in. It was even better than we remembered. There was a huge array of tapas displayed behind the counter and we were taken for a tour along it. Having made our selections we sat in the cool of the wood paneled room, being served yummy food and drinking beer. After that we all three needed a siesta.
That evening we set off to take Lara to the posh restaurant, but our plans for a complete tour of our recent watering holes were thwarted by its being shut. On the way in to town, we paused to stand outside a bar watching the penalty shootout between Brazil and Chile, by the time Brazil won quite a crowd had gathered. We continued into town, where the satellite link must have been delayed as first gasps and then cheering came from another of the bars. After having no joy at the Cathedral restaurant we walked down to the main street and arrived in Rio and it was carnival time. Music was pumping loudly and girls in feathered frames and spangles were dancing along the street. We stared bemused, wondering what would happen if Brazil won the tournament. There was a slight pause as they waited for something up ahead to make its way through the narrow passage by the balcony and then they were off, chasseing and flouncing away. Behind them came a float on which an assorted band of people, ranked up a staircase, danced on the spot fit to bust and waved rainbow flags. We had happened across a Gay Pride parade and it was much livelier than the other parades we have witnessed. Various similar floats drove by, flexing nearly to the road under the pressure of the enthusiastic of bopping of those onboard. The floats were interspersed by troupes of girls performing dance routines, somewhere between twirling majorettes and cheerleaders. The rear was brought up by a stunning fire dancer, a dark haired girl in black with a black bandana painted across her eyes. She was twirling a loop with fires burning at both ends and she drew a spontaneous wave of applause from the crowd as she passed by, heading for the narrow passage below the balcony. Every time we come out at night without my camera we see some event. Good job John always has his phone.
Next day we were all up early to head for Torrevieja. We needed to refuel first, which was much easier with Lara to help, and we were away by eight. Outside the harbour the sea was very lively indeed. Lara asked if it was always like it here and I thought it might well be given the number of wrecks scattered around the harbour mouth. This was not what she wanted to hear. Shortly after the wind came up on our port side, so we had a good sail, reaching seven knots for a while, before the wind became fluky and then dropped. We left the mainsail up for stability and turned the engine on again. Lara had brought a couple of umbrellas from home, so she and I sat each in our own little puddles of shade, like a pair of Victorian ladies on a boating lake. Even so the heat was too much for Lara and after lunch she retreated to the shade below.
We were passing a low-lying piece of coastline, behind which is a big inland sea, the Mar Menor. It sounded intriguing, but more of a playground for smaller boats or those of shallow draft. For us the stresses of uncertain depths and fishing nets outweighed the urge to explore. As we sailed by the wind gradually built to force five, so we let out the jib and flew along on a broad reach, at one point hitting nine knots. This spurt brought us to Torrevieja much sooner than we had expected. Lara came up and helped set out the lines and fenders and John nosed us in to find the waiting pontoon. It was alongside a smart bar with a swimming pool. As we came in a man sunbathing in the bar popped up like a meercat, to look out at our approach, not planning to help, just wanting to nosey. Fortunately Lara and I went into the routine honed on our sailing course two years ago and put on a faultless demonstration for him. After that John slowly reversed us round to the berth we had been given. We arrived, but found no promised marinera waiting to catch the lines. The cross wind was threatening to blow us toward the noses of other boats, the stuff of nightmare. John brought us back out and we hung around the end of the pontoon till we saw a man with a radio come strolling. Back in to where he now stood master of all he surveyed and all went pretty smoothly. Having an extra pair of hands makes a big difference. It was awkward here too, as the pontoon is a high concrete one, so we were throwing up rather than down and the rear fender was of no reassurance at all. John had to relocate the passerel to the top fitting before we go ashore. All marinas are vexingly different. Still we soon had the Bimini up and were sat in its’ shade with a bottle of beer from the fridge each. Then we went to the beach for a swim in the shallow water, just like a proper holiday.