Cap de setmana de senderisme a Calp!

IMG_0011

Calp (Valencian)/Calpe (Spanish), population 29,667, is a town in the province of Alicante, located 67 kilometres from the province capital. I had been there once before for a morning on the way to Alicante, way back in 2011, and I have always wanted to climb the impressive rock formation Penyal d’Ifac. I didn’t that day because I had a bus to catch, but seven years later, I had my opportunity when Samarucs, the LGBT+ gay sports club of València, teamed up with the senderismo section of COGAM, the gay non-profit group of Madrid, for a weekend of hiking, nature and friendship in Calpe. Calp (valenciano)/Calpe (castellano), población 29.667, es un pueblo en la provincia de Alicante, ubicado a 67 kilómetros de la capital de la provincia. Había estado una vez antes por solo una mañana, una parada por el camino a Alicante, en 2011. Siempre he querido subir la formación de roca impresionante Penyal d’Ifac. No lo hice porque tenía que coger el autobús, pero siete años después, tenía mi oportunidad cuando Samarucs, el deportivo LGBT+ de València, hizo una excursión con la sección de senderismo de COGAM, el colectivo LGBT+ de Madrid, para un fin de semana de senderismo, naturaleza y amistad en Calpe. 

IMG_0212

While the group from COGAM arrived Wednesday evening (the autonomous communities of Madrid and València have different Semana Santa holidays) and went on a difficult route Thursday to Ponox-El León Dormido (The Sleeping Lion), us Valencianos arrived Thursday afternoon and checked into 4You Youth Hostel (for Camino peregrinos, it was one of the better albergues ;)). El grupo de COGAM llegó miércoles por la tarde (las comunidades autónomas de Madrid y València tienen vacaciones de Semana Santa distintas) y hicieron una ruta dura jueves a Ponox-El León Dormido, los valencianos llegamos jueves por la tarde y nos instalamos en el 4You Youth Hostal (albergue) (para los peregrinos del Camino, era uno de los mejores albergues ;)). 

IMG_0272

Dinner the first night was salad and chicken, the second night salad and pork, the third night gazpacho and lasagna (or the vegetarian option, of course). La primera noche, cenamos ensalada y pollo, la segunda noche ensalada y lomo, y la tercera noche gazpacho y lasaña (había otra opción para los vegetarianos, desde luego). 

IMG_0304

Friday morning, we had breakfast at 8:30 before heading to the point of departure for the day. We left from the car park of Cala Lleibeg and began our hike. The route took us between mountains and the sea. The rock formations were interesting, and the trail was pretty small. There were a lot of hikers out and about that day. El viernes por la mañana, desayunamos a las 8:30 antes de ir a la punta de salida por el día. Salimos del aparcamiento de Cala Lleibeg y empezamos la ruta. La ruta nos llevó entre el monte y el mar. Había formaciones de roca interesantes, y era un sendero pequeño. Había bastantes senderistas este día, viernes Santo. 

IMG_0028

After about an hour we arrived to another cove, Cala Moraig, where we had a snack and rested for a half hour. Después de una hora, llegamos a otra cala, la Cala Moraig, donde almorzamos y descansamos durante una media hora. 

IMG_0056

A few people stayed to enjoy the beautiful cove, but most of us hiked on up to the Torre de Cap d’Or, which took about an hour and a half. We had lunch there and admired the beautiful views before heading back. Algunos se quedaron en la cala para disfrutar y tomar el sol, pero la mayoría de nosotros subimos hasta el Torre de Cap d’Or, que nos tardó una hora y media. Comemos allí y disfrutamos de las vistas bonitas antes de volver. 

IMG_0083

Clouds were gathering, but we were in luck as the rain held off until we were having our post hike drink at the chiringuito at the cala near the parking lot. Los cielos estaban poniéndose gris, pero tuvimos suerte porque no empezó a llover hasta que estábamos tomando algo en el chiringuito en la cala cerca del aparcamiento.

IMG_0035

Saturday was Serra de Bèrnia, an 11-kilometre long mountain range between Calpe and Benidorm. A fort was built in the 16th century to protect the area from invaders. The highest peak is 1128 metres above sea level. El sábado fuimos a la Serra de Bèrnia, una sierra de 11 kilómetros entre Calpe y Benidorm. Hay unas ruinas de un fuerte que fue construido en el Siglo XVI para proteger la zona de invasores. El pico más alto es a 1128 metros sobre el nivel del mar. 

IMG_0103

After breakfast we headed off to the Bèrnia parking lot and set off on our hike. A few from Madrid stayed back to rest and have paella. This hike was a bit more demanding as it went up and down. At the Forat de Bèrnia, we had to crawl through a cave to be rewarded with amazing views of the Mediterranean Coast and Benidorm. Those skyscrapers seem so small. Después del desayuno, fuimos hasta el aparcamiento de Bèrnia para empezar la ruta. Algunos de Madrid se quedó en Calpe para comer paella y descansar. La ruta era más exigiente porque había más subida y bajada. En el Forat de Bèrnia, tuvimos que gatear por una cueva. Después, recibimos un regalo de vistas increíbles de la costa del Mediterráneo y Benidorm. Los rascacielos parecían pequeños. 

IMG_0136

We continued on to the Fort de Bèrnia, 803 metres above sea level.  after a snack break to recharge. The fort offered more spectacular views, and we had lunch there. It was a bit windy. The return to the parking lot went by extremely fast. It gave us time to explore more of the coves of Calpe and the bars with terraces too. Después de un descanso para almorzar, seguimos hasta el Fort de Bèrnia, a 803 metros sobre el nivel del mar. Había aún más vistas espectaculares desde el fuerte, y comemos allí. Había viento. La vuelta al parking nos pasó volando. Por eso, había más tiempo para explorar las calas de Calpe y también los bares con terrazas. 

IMG_0165

There was karaoke on Saturday night. Había karaoke el sábado por la noche. 

IMG_0152

Sunday we checked out. Some Madrid folks had to return earlier, but 23 of us ventured to the top of the Penyal d’Ifac (Peñón de Ifach in Spanish). The 332 meter high (1089 feet) limestone rock formation sticks out high above any hotel in Calpe or even Benidorm. The Phoenicians referred to it as the “Northern Rock” to distinguish it from the Rock of Gibraltar. Today it is a natural park and is home to various flora and fauna. Nos salimos del albergue el domingo. Algunos de Madrid tenían que volver antes, pero éramos 23 quien subimos hasta el cima del Penyal d’Ifac (Peñón de Ifach en castellano). La roca de caliza de 332 metros es más alto que cualquier hotel en Calpe o incluso Benidorm. Los fenicios lo llamaron “La Roca del Norte” para distinguirla de la Roca de Gibraltar. Hoy es un parque natural y hay varios tipos de flora y fauna. 

IMG_0220

As it was Easter Sunday, many people wanted to climb it. We arrived about 10, which was good because later they began to control the number of people allowed in. It was slow going after the tunnel to the summit of the rock. The summit was a bit more complicated than I expected. At some points, there was a chain rope to hold on to as you climbed. The views were magnificent, though. Como era el domingo de Pascua, había bastante gente con ganas de subirla. Llegamos sobre las 10, que era una buena hora porque después empezaron a controlar el número de gente que permitieron. Teníamos que ir despacio después del túnel hasta la cima de la roca. La cima era más complicada que esperaba. En algunos puntos, había una cadena para soportar durante la subida. Las vistas eran magnificentes y merecían la pena. 

IMG_0248

We arrived back to the car park around 13:00, and the Madrid folks had to return to the Spanish capital. The Valencianos, plus two more who had come with COGAM, sojourned on to Moraira, a fishing village that has converted into a resort area. The population is around 10,000 and explodes to 36,000 in the summer. We stayed at the Albergue Juvenil La Marina which had great accommodations but not-so-great food. In the afternoon we explored the village. Llegamos al aparcamiento sobre las 13:00, y los madrileños tenían que volver a la capital española. Los valencianos, más dos más quien habían venido con COGAM, viajamos hasta Moraira, un pueblo pescador que se convirtió a una zona túristica. La población es unos 10.000 habitantes y explota hasta 36.000 en el verano. Nos alojamos en el Albergue Juvenil La Marina, que estaba bien menos la comida, que no estaba tan bueno. Por la tarde exploramos el pueblo. 

IMG_0257

Monday was a short walk in the Cala de Portixol near Xàbia/Javea to Cap de Prim and a beautiful lookout near a small island. The actual walk was about 40 minutes roundtrip, but we took our time to enjoy the views and company. Lunes, hicimos un paseo por la Cala de Portixol cerca de Xàbia/Javea, hasta el Cap de Prim y un mirador precioso a lado de una isla pequeña. La ruta solo era unos 40 minutos en total, ida-vuelta, pero fuimos despacio para disfrutar las vistas y la buena compañía. 

IMG_0321

It was another great hiking weekend organised by Samarucs and COGAM. Era otro fin de semana de senderismo y naturaleza genial organizado por Samarucs y COGAM. 

IMG_0327

Hikes/Rutas #9, 10, 11, 12/30 of 2018
Date/Fecha: 30, 31 de marzo, 1 2 de abril de 2018
Kilometres hiked: Viernes: 14 Sábado: 12 Domingo: 6 Lunes: 4
Mountain/Route/Monte/Ruta: Benitatxell-Torre Cap d’Or, Serra de Bèrnia, Penyal d’Ifach, Cap de Prim
Difficulty: Media, media-alta, media, fácil.

IMG_0052

IMG_0241

IMG_0336

IMG_0094

 

My story.

Sí, soy gay.

I’m not a very good gay. I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t go on a lot of dates, I don’t go to Pride, I haven’t even gone to either of the gay discos in Bilbao in the three years I’ve lived here. I don’t fight for rights (but I do support LGBTQ rights, of course). I don’t have a six pack, I’m not a bear, I’m too “overweight” for the twinks, too thin for the bears, too young to be a daddy, over 30 so non existent to many. The people who I leaned on while coming to terms with my homosexuality are an ocean away with their own lives. I’m too well-adjusted with my homosexuality for the gay support groups, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t use that support. I just feel awkward in those groups…very out of place.

I was cut off from communication in the Sierra de la Demanda (entry coming soon, I think June 27th ;)) Sunday when the Internet was shocked by the news of the shootings at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. When I got back in the land of 4G, it was my turn to be shocked. The news is affecting me a lot. It’s triggering my anxiety and depression. I thought it might be a good way to deal by writing out my coming out story and my first trip to a gay club and where I am now.

Growing up, I had some notion that I was different, but exposure to my father’s conservative radio programs meant that whatever “gay” was, it was a choice, so I chose to ignore those feelings. It worked during high school, but after a year in a Christian college (university) group, I was feeling very confused. When Ewan McGregor broke into “Your Song” in Moulin Rouge, it made me realise something. I was attracted to men.

I spent the summer agonizing what this meant. In October 2001, I went to a college newspaper conference in New Orleans, snuck away from my friends and went to a gay bar where I saw that hey, there were other gays in the world! I wasn’t alone!

I continued to struggle with accepting myself, and my struggles increased with every broken heart. In autumn 2003, I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain, and on a trip to Barcelona that October, I went to a gay club called Arena. I loved dancing and the Catalán nightlife. In 2011, I went back to Arena and relived my very first time. It was in Spain where I felt it was truly okay to be gay and started to accept myself.

Ever since, though, I feel pressured to go to gay bars/clubs even though they’re not really my thing. I’m not a big drinker, as the second glass of wine can have me tipsy some days, and instead of hang overs, I have anxiety the day after. Not worth it. I am pretty introverted, so it’s hard for me to meet people in that context. Once in a while, I need a night dancing, and it usually happens when I’m in Barcelona.

I struggle to find my place in the gay world where I don’t fit into any of the subcultures. I keep feeling like I’m trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. I’d rather spend my money on travel, and I’d rather spend my weekends in nature than at the disco. Different strokes for different folks.

Saying this, the news is upsetting because for everyone there, they just wanted to have a good time and to dance the night away with their friends and loved ones. This night was turned into hell on earth for them.

I still deal with a lot of fear that results from being born gay. I’m not out to my family for fear of their disapproval. I don’t talk about it at work (but if a co-worker asked, I wouldn’t deny it.) for fear of what may happen if someone who is homophobic found out. Many in the gay community need a place where they can be themselves without fear. Although more and more people find the courage to come out and be themselves every day, there are even more who are scared of this.

The anxiety and depression that this fear creates is not healthy. It causes undo stress. I fear that after the attacks, it could create more and more fear. My heart goes out to the friends and family of the people who lost their lives in Orlando. Hug someone you love today, if you can. Or let people you know they care for them. Try not to live in fear.

As I am embarking on my move to Valencia next week (!), my heart continues to hold to hope for the future. A future where no one has to be afraid to be who they are. A future for me that involves a great Valencian guy, two golden retrievers, a writing career and a house on the Mediterranean. A future where stories like this are a thing from the past.

Ojalá.