On our recent trip into Valencia by train [Valencian Markets], Francine had been impressed by the soft quality of the light on that particular morning over the rice paddies of the Parque Natural Albufera as we rattled by. So, we made a mental note to try a scouting trip for potential landscape line-ups in the future. After our visit to Peñíscola [pronounced Pen-yis-cola] and its neighbouring towns, we would be passing by Valencia on our way back south so we took the opportunity to clamber off the autovia for a gander.
[BTW, if I seem to have changed the word for motorway, an autopista is a toll motorway whereas an autovia is a toll-free motorway.]
There is a network of small roads surrounding a large lake shown on the maps though we soon discovered that, whilst some are roads as we know them, others are no more than dirt tracks. This is where I could’ve done with a Dacia Duster [I’m just looking for an excuse], a car that I could afford not to give a monkey’s about and in which we could happily bounce around off-piste in Spain. However, we are armed with a proper car that I do give a monkey’s about so bouncing off-piste with gay abandon was a less than appealing prospect. Discretion being the better part of valour, we parked a couple of times and wandered.
There was much farming activity. I was first taken by the odd appearance of the tractors being driven about by what I presumed were a couple of rice farmers. The rear wheels consisted of a broad metal framework only, with no tyres whatsoever. These seemed to be designed to mush up the sopping wet soil in which rice likes to grow. Steering, using wheels that did have tyres, looked like quite an art – the front wheels looked as if they acting more like rudders than wheels. Loitering about near the tractors, clearly on the lookout for disturbed food items, were more Egrets than you could shake a bag of bomba paella rice at.
As Francine was wandering, she disturbed a dragonfly which regrettably flew off before I could be summoned to see it. It would have been a Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum), sin duda [without doubt].
We had arrived at the Albufera shortly after midday so conditions were not great for landscape photography, which tends to require moody lighting. However, it was a scouting trip so we both clicked at a hut that looked worthy enough to give the general idea. Here’s Francine’s shot so you can see what this rather unusual landscape looks like.
It’s about an hour’s drive from Casa Libelule back up to the Albufera. It remains to be seen whether we can drag ourselves up there early enough … or, indeed, whether Francine still considers it a worthwhile exercise.
We wait with bated breath.