Lazing in Lequeitio - Monday and Tuesday, 28 and 29 July 2003

The anchorage at Loqueitio, looking down from the calvary

Next morning, we awoke to bright sunshine to find ourselves in a truly delightful anchorage, so we made preparations to stay a day or two. We were bounded by the ropes and buoys for the swimming area to the South, the local moorings to the West, a sunken causeway leading to the island to the East, and deeper water leading to the fairway to the North. So we set a second anchor, and moored ourselves fore and aft, parallel with the outer line of local moorings. This kept the cabin entrance facing South, to catch the sun, avoid the stronger sea breezes during the day, and give a welcome cooling land breeze at night.

Then we set out to explore. The harbour was quite large, with literally hundreds of local boats crammed gunwale to gunwale in one half, and the half nearer the entrance kept for commercial fishing boats. There was space for yachts to tie alongside part of the quay, but we decided we were more comfortable were we were. To reach the local boats, each row had a small pontoon on an endless line. Best of all for us, there was a loading pontoon by the entrance with a tap.

A back street in Lequeitio

The town had charming, older streets near the water front, and (slightly) more modern buildings further inland. We needed Camping Gaz and a laundry, so asked in the typically very helpful tourist bureau. The laundry was around half a mile from the front, so we packed the dirty stuff in sail bags and set out. Following the directions, we arrived at a square surrounded by apartment buildings, and no sign of a laundry. We approached some old men chatting on a bench, and said the word for laundry in our best Spanish, then showed them the dictionary. Smiles all round, and one lead us to a garage round the back of one of the buildings. This was indeed the laundry, and we negotiated our business with signs and the aid of the dictionary. When we picked up the washing later in the day, the lady who ran the place was there, and spoke excellent English. We thought our clothes weren't used to being so clean!

The Camping Gaz was less successful. On our second visit to the shop, because we discovered the hard way that it didn't open after lunch until 17:00, we think we understood them to mean that they'd stopped stocking Camping Gaz. Anyway, we didn't get any.

In the afternoon, we climbed the hill immediately behind the bathing beach to the South of us. This was around 300m high, and had a calvary at the top. The view was stunning - of the town, the cliffs either side of it, the mountains inland, and of Razzmatazz lying peacefully in the bay below. On the way, we passed a gang of workmen renewing the path with balks of timber. The foreman spoke to us in perfect English, with no trace of an accent. When we asked where he had learned it, he simply said "At school, of course".

On the Tuesday, we decided to cycle to some caves on a hill overlooking the Ria de Mundaca. Up early, we toiled up the hill out of Loqueitio. Although this was on a main road, there was little traffic, and what there was drove slowly and with consideration for cyclists. Once we'd reached about 400m, the road continued fairly level, but with undulations, until the fearsome steep descent down to the shore of the Ria de Mundaca. Then we had to climb about 200m to reach the caves. There was no ticket office, and no sign other than a signpost. So we climbed a path to the cave entrance to await the time given by the tourist office for the guided tour. There was a notice there, but with the Spanish erased so that everyone could enjoy the Euskadi (basque language) version! On the hour, a man appeared, unlocked the cave, and escorted us and around 15 others who'd turned up through the most fantastic limestone caves.


On the way back, we diverted to visit Ea, a tiny village on the coast between Mundaca and Loqueitio. A stream ran down the village street out onto the beach in a narrow bay. We enjoyed pintxos and cider in a bar beside the stream.

In the evening, we sauntered ashore for a drink in the square. Dozens of teenage children - boys and girls - were diving off the harbour walls into the sea by the entrance, with no one to complain or tell them off. Fishing boats coming in or out simply slowed down and dodged them. In the square, there were groups of youngsters, perhaps 9-year olds, on their bikes, happily chatting, and obviously allowed to wander around unsupervised. And there was a group of 3 or 4 year-olds zooming around on peddle tractors, clearly this year's toy. All in all, we thought Spain was a bit of a paradise for children. They appeared to have loads of freedom, to spend it out of doors, and not to get up to any serious mischief - we saw no vandalism anywhere.

We voted Loqueitio the nicest place we'd visited in Spain.

On the beach in Lequeitio

On the Wednesday morning, after a leisurely breakfast in the cockpit, we visited the town for the last time. Apart from shopping and fetching water, we wanted to visit 2 sites: a tower crane, and the church, which had extraordinary flying buttresses - our interest was clearly more mechanical than spiritual. The tower crane fascinated me, because I couldn't understand why it didn't topple over. It was anchored by concrete blocks arranged around its base, but the footprint looked absurdly small to support its reach. We studied it and did some back of the envelope calculations/guesses, and concluded that it was all right provided a butterfly didn't land on its extremity. Incidentally, it was driven by a guy with a zapper on the ground. Incidentally number 2, about a quarter of the people working on this and other sites we saw wore hard hats. Presumably there was some rule demanding them. What surprised us was not that some people didn't, but that it was not a total 100 per cent or zero per cent. Suggests a liberal society where everyone can make their own choice without being bullied into conformance.

The church was being cleaned, which seemed a good time for a visit by the ungodly. Apart from the flying buttresses, its most outstanding feature was its reredos (the wall behind the altar), which looked like solid gold, and carved with hundreds of little statues of saints. Wonderfully over the top.