The Cork Board

Day 6 El Toro to Teruel

I am sure that I remember it correctly. In Laurie Lee’s “A Moment of War” he describes arriving in Teruel and “liberating” a van which was parked outside the church. Nothing was done or said but the van was commandeered and proved useful, no doubt. When I arrived in Teruel,sure enough the van had gone. But it’s all an unfortunate fiction. There was no van and Mr. Lee was never here. Unlike me.

This had proven to be another day when cycling touring challenges were to the fore. I got drenched twice and had to repair another puncture. My tyres are supposed to be puncture resistant but it seems their resistance is low. I stare at them in disbelief. There are holes in them you see with the naked eye. I consider whether they will hold out for the trip or whether I will have to replace them in Zaragoza, which must have a bike shop. Your blood pressure does start to rise when you are fixing a hole where the rain gets in and the sky darkens over your shoulder and there is the sound of distant thunder.

Soaking apart, I had been looking forward to arriving in Teruel. It offered so much promise, and it is indeed a lovely looking old town. As with all modern towns I suppose, there’s an old bit and the new bit leeches to the side and represents progress. I’m not to decry this. It is the way of the world.

Teruel has been struggling as the “forgotten” town since it is the only regional capital without a rail link to Madrid.But things do improve. A campaign to bring the town into the limelight is underway. The town stands at 3000 feet above sea level which has the impact of making weather predictions somewhat erratic but I’m learning to live with that.

El Torico Plaza

Teruel also has history. It was the site of the bloodiest and decisive battle of the Civil War and so in a historical context it offers much to explore and its Moorish influences are everywhere. In its architecture and particularly,towers.

The 14th century Torre de San Martín

Feature of the El Torico fountain

But to current preoccupations. One of the things I have been promising myself if I can engineer it is to attend a “recortedores” show. The antidote to bullfighting. The spectacle is just the same but the matador faces the bull unarmed and evades a goring by his athletic ability to dodge and leap to dramatic effect. It is more an athletic spectacular with the odds evened up. My research tells me that this is the region to give me the best chance of attending one if these events.

I am disappointed to find then that there is a “reco” show this weekend. When I have left. Furthermore there isn’t one in Zaragoza this weekend… where I will be, but in Logroño, where I will be midweek. Darn and damn it. I’m running out of chances.

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