Like Almería, Murcia experiences hot summers, with daytime temperatures regularly exceeding 40 degrees. Today was one of those days, synonymous with the type of weather that ignites the deadly fire season back home in Australia. But this part of Spain, predominantly a lunar landscape of rills and gullies, has little combustible material to burn.
Past being tired and desperate for a drink, I took a short detour downhill towards a small village. A blink and you miss it sort of place, I still can’t recall passing a road sign with its name inscribed on it. But the one thing it did have was a small bar-restaurant that sold cold beer. Sem (zero) alcohol beer provided the perfect tonic throughout southern Portugal, and in Spain particularly. Full of vitamins and without any alcohol to further dessicate my already dehydrated body, it was the dangling carrot at the end of each stage throughout a long day’s riding.
Our accommodation that evening was in the small Murcian town of Fortuna. An oasis in a desert landscape, it’s supposedly renowned for its thermal baths dating back to Roman and Moorish times. The bubbling waters of one of its spas, ‘La Fuente’, just three kilometres down the road, was where I found Roz later that afternoon – and by all likelihood, everyone else within driving distance of town. With the coast some 45 kilometres away to the east, what else are you likely to do on an above-40 degree Spanish evening?
Other than devouring an enormous and tasty ensalada mixta over dinner, we spent most of our stay testing out the validity of the water’s supposed healing qualities. No longer weary or suffering from aching muscles, it was a revitalizing hiatus between the gruelling roads behind me and the testing ones that still lay ahead.