Rota, Spain; Day 27

Today our 5 Adventurers did our rescheduled activity from Saturday – we went to see Africa! That was only one of the draws of our destination but it was a cool one.

View across the Strait of Gibraltar

Our 90 minute drive this time took us to what is known as the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) area of Spain. The town of Bolonia is about 25 miles from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar. In addition to it’s proximity to Africa, it has a beautiful beach, a large active natural sand dune and even some ancient Roman ruins thrown in for good measure.

The ruins were the bustling Roman city of Baelo Claudia from the 2nd to the 6th Century AD. Its decline is attributed to earthquake damage and, later, hoards of pirates which is a reason we haven’t come across it before. It was a fishing village and evidence of tuna fishing and salting can be seen. It is still an active archeological site sadly closed today – so we had to be satisfied with glimpses from the boardwalk.

Romain ruins near Bolonia

Interestingly, in addition to the typical archeologists working the site there are ‘food technologists’ who are trying understand the process to make garum which was a big source of wealth for this community. Garum was a fish sauce very popular in Ancient Greece, Phoenicia, Rome and Carthage – as popular as garlic today. It fell out of use in this part of the world while in Southeast Asia similar sauce remains a distinctive part of that region’s cuisine. There is an effort to bring garum back into modern diets and the work at Bolonia is advancing that cause.

Baelo Claudio

After passing by the ruins we spent most of our time at the sand dune. At 90 feet high and 600 feet wide it is not the biggest sand dune we’ve climbed (Sleeping Bear’s dune climb in Michigan is almost 300 feet) but it certainly felt like a ‘living dune’. Formed by the Levante wind that blows from the southeast, it felt like the sands were building and shifting even as we spent a few hours there.

View from the beach up the dune

Towards the back you could see the dune overtaking pines which were planted solely to try to manage the sand. It also was blowing into wet beach footprints shortly after they were made.

White dry sand erasing footprints

We had a good time. Brian went up twice so came back a little parched and worn out. Perhaps it was from chasing his hat which kept blowing off.

Stumbling down the dune

We found a little respite from the wind and sun but still came home sandy, tired and happy from the day.

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