"We were greeted by beautiful crystal clear water running through a gorge of limestone rock."
Our departure from Xeraco was unexpectedly quite an emotional one. As you know we have been living and volunteering there since January. The campsite we lived on has quite a few longterm residents and I guess we built up closer relationships with these people than we had realised. Our friends Vicenta and Siegfried(both in their 70’s) are amazing and I was already sad about saying bye to them before the time had even come. All of our communication was through us speaking pigeon Spanish with them and even though at times we were not always able to converse we could tell that they were both very good people. When it came to saying farewell Siegfried cried, Jason and I could not believe it. Vicenta was so sweet she waved us goodbye like your grandma would, seeing you off right until the end.
The hardest part was saying good bye to Natalie, Iván, Marcos and Iván grande. We have all been part of each others lives and routines everyday for the last six months. It really did start to feel like home. I think that is one of the many positives of doing a Workaway project, you really do build up close relationships with people. Natalie has told us that we always have a home with them and we know that she truly means that.
Just like that we were on the road again and after 2 long hours later we arrived at our next destination, Montanejos. We didn’t have anywhere booked but we planned to stay at the Albergue El Refugio. Thankfully Vicente(a popular male and female Spanish name) the owner was around as it seems during the week he doesn’t have many guests and he does not bother to open up his restaurant. He gave us a room for €30(it’s usually €40 including breakfast) and let us have access to the kitchen all week apart from Friday evening and Saturday as that’s when the restaurant is open. We were so glad that he allowed us to do that as I was already fretting at the cost of the room. On the days we couldn't cook in the kitchen we just took the camping stove to the river. The refugio is a tranquil place and it was brilliant having it to ourselves all week. Vicente is a really nice guy and to make our stay even better he had lots of dogs to keep us company, three of them were super cute puppies!
We did plan to climb on the day we arrived but we both felt unexplainably tired. All we could put it down to was that maybe we were emotionally tired. The goodbyes and moving on to the unknown. Humans are such creatures of habit and even though part of travelling is to break the “norm” and routine, we still ended in a routine and one we were quite happy with. So mixing that up can feel quite unsettling. By the time we’d unpacked the car, walking up and down 65 stairs a few times with heavy loads we were starving; it was 4pm and we’d not eaten since breakfast.
Montanejos is a small pretty town. There are two shops in which you can purchase food from, two bakeries, a couple of restaurants and hotels. Montanejos is not only well known for it's climbing but it is also famous for it’s thermal pools, so we decided to go there instead of climbing. We were so excited, discussing on the way about how good our muscles will feel after soaking in this thermal pool. We were greeted by beautiful crystal clear water running through a gorge of limestone rock. Such a beautiful place, it really reminded us both of Asia. Now we have been caught off guard before in Spain with their “thermal pools” so I sent Jason in to test it out. His face said it all, he tested out a few different spots but then confirmed what I had already guessed, it was freezing! The water is supposed to be 25ºc, which apparently is not that hot!
Over the next four days we climbed each day, testing out a different spot each time. The crags along the gorge seemed to be facing either north east or west or south east or west Montanejos meaning you can either climb on one side in the morning or the otherside in the afternoon, ensuring you avoid climbing in the baking sun. If Yorkshire limestone is your thing then Montanejos is the place to come, tiny teetering holds and side pulls. This was not great style for Jason’s finger injury but we still had fun. We mostly climbed during the morning, walking around 30-40 minutes to the crags in the hot Spanish sun, listening to Johnny Spanish podcasts along the way. Montanejos is a beautiful place, the eco system is full of life and the water is stunning, so the walks were always enjoyable. On the walk back it would be absolutely scorching, luckily for us the “thermal pool” named Fuente de Baños was on our route back everyday, so we would go cool off there. We were actually grateful that it wasn’t piping hot. We seemed to have a really good balance in Montanejos of climbing and relaxing and really enjoyed our time there. Montanejos is in the province of Valencia so if you decide to go to Valencia I would certainly recommend a night or two stay in Montanejos. It is perfect for walking, road and mountain biking, rock climbing,exploring, rafting, kayaking, swimming and relaxing. You are sure to have a great time there!