Spain – A short break in and around Alicante

Did you know that there are really splendid ferry connections from and to Algeria? Besides places in France and Italy one can go to Alicante in southern Spain, and that’s exactly what I did. One needs tons of patience to go through the boarding procedures, mainly because there’s a lot of waiting for something. I’m not sure what, but I managed to listen to several hours worth of podcasts.

Oran port

I’m in the extremely lucky position to have friends who, although I hadn’t seen them for seven long years, allowed me to crash on their sofa and it was as if barely a week had gone by since last we met. Thanks Mr and Mrs Paella for existing! They took me around the local sights including hot chocolate, tapas, red wine, Phoenician archaeology and, for the first time in my life, avocets.  If you, like the WordPress spellchecker, don’t know – avocets are the most lovely birds ever. Note to WordPress: not avocados.

Alicante is well worth a visit because of the views, the great graffiti, the yummy vegetarian restaurants and lots of history to explore. Alicante is where the Spanish civil war ended.

I just really fancy the idea of a place called Joyeria. Make of that whatever you want. I also got to see a very local bit of culture because the parade of the Three Kings was on. I felt a bit like in a live version of the opening of Life of Brian. Always look on the bright side of life!

Dinosaur of the week: Spotted Flycatcher

spotted flycatcher

Our local patch of forest and shrubs is also home to Muscicapa striata. According to the IUCN the species is threatened by biocide-induced reductions or contamination of insect populations, removal of old trees and general habitat deterioration.

Algeria – Hunting Plastic

Pretty much every weekend, husband and I go plogging in our neighbouring forest. Sometimes students are tagging along, sometimes members of the public help. We once even had a soldier from the close-by military compound giving us a bin bag and saying thank you.

This is actually what most people do – watching what we do and then saying thanks. So, somehow information about us and our hobby found its way all up to the townhall where at the beginning of April we met Oran’s mayor and some notables, who are also fighting against illegal cutting down of trees.

ceremony2

The mayor expressed how grateful he and the city of Oran were for our contribution to keep this little patch of green clean and our school’s managing director translated. We were then presented with a certificate of appreciation and a handmade tile, which was beautiful. Tile-making is a local tradition.

From the townhall we went to a near-by privately run museum about the fight for independence from France. There was a connection to our local forest too, because it had been a venue for executions of resistance fighters. There are apparently still trees which have bullets lodged in them.

It was a lovely morning and a great surprise. We’re both very happy that litter-picking is such an appreciated pastime and would be even happier if it wasn’t necessary. However, things being the way they are, in the afternoon we went for a plog and we’ll keep on doing so.

ceremony4

Dinosaur of the week: Desert Lark

IMG_5516 04 desert larks

These two Ammomanes deserti were intensely communicating with each other while I observered them last December in the Sahara near Tamanrasset. The species is classified as least concern on the Red List and apparently under no particular threat. But then, the birds rely on insects during the breeding season, so they’ll soon all be gone.

Thank you to the good people on birdforum.net for their help with the ID.