Another so peaceful night’s sleep in this backwater. A late breakfast was no problem as I had an easy day downhill day ahead of me. The cold view from the col over my next valley was clear this morning, a statue celebrated 40 years of national park.It was straight into the cold forest for the downhill bit, the temperature was just above zero. After a couple of hours downhill i reached the village of Tuixen.
The village square was quite ‘lively’ with two bars, I sat down at one for a quiet coffee. Within minutes a coach load of kids arrived and seemed to want to talk to talk to me in English. They asked the most lovely of kids’ questions – like “how old are you?”, “do you like chocolate?” and “what is your favourite word in Spanish?” Had to think about that one.They were here for three days of what looked like fun. Could you believe it but the only local shop where I was hoping to buy supplies was closed for refurbishment so I used the other quieter bar for a bocadillo and cerveza. What looked like an easy stroll down the valley turned out to be a hot and sweaty afternoon. Across meadows which had a feel of home to them…. …and then a couple of miles of forest track marching brought me out at a renovated mill by the roadside. My village for the night, Fornols, was perched on its hill above and seemed to take ages to reach in the heat. I arrived in a sweaty mess at the local bar where I was to pick up keys for my apartment, unfortunately lunch was still in progress [4pm] and there was only the one lady serving. So instead of a needed shower and rest I ended up sitting in the bar for an hour twiddling my thumbs over an orange juice whilst the diners enjoyed their prolonged meal. Eventually I was installed in an apartment which seemed part of the church tower higher up the village in a maize of streets. There is a lot of renovation into holiday homes going on here with what I think is Andorran money. There are only 6 permanent residents.
The long awaited shower turned into a fiasco – I took ages to work out how to switch the water on in the fancy contraption. I’m not sure which combination of buttons and twists got it going but I certainly could not switch it off!! The tray was slowly filling up and starting to leak into the bathroom, I kept diving in and out of the shower to fiddle with the controls, to no avail. Panic was setting in as water was going everywhere. Searched for master water knobs in vain. Thankfully my brain went into action and I was able to detach the shower hose and the head stretched into the toilet bowl where at least the water flow was contained. This gave me time to get dressed and go red faced for help, needless to say the lady when she had marched back up the hill with me switched the contraption off in a second. Still not sure of the sequences needed and I wasn’t willing to try again. Needed a lie down after all the excitement before returning to the bar at nine o’clock for an excellent meal. By now they were treating me as an imbecile. I certainly didn’t dare try pouring wine into my mouth from one of those flasks things I was given. Managed to find my way back through the warren to my room unaided.