On a cool early morning in June, we climbed on the Triumph and headed out of town getting a feeling for how this was going to go and how the bike would handle. A motorcycle is much different to drive and to brake with two big people on it. But it worked great. Sebastiano never complained. I pulled over when I was tired and we would get something to eat or drink. We spent the nights in cheap places and at one point had to spend an extra night because something went wrong with the bike. In Spain, you don’t have to look far to find someone who can fix your motorcycle. It was soon on the road better than ever.
Spain was poor in those days and the road was peaceful, not much traffic. Some of the road was very good and other parts full of holes. It was tricky sometimes. We cruised down into Andalusia, the southern region that produces lots of olive oil. The olive trees were in bloom and the smell of rich olive oil stored in casks everywhere permeated everything. We cruised through miles and miles of orchards and small towns totally involved with the trees and the fruit. The smell was intoxicating in the clean hot air. Everything was low-tech agriculture in harmony with the land. These towns and their olive groves had been like this for centuries.
We stopped to eat at little houses, private homes sometimes, and would take whatever they had. One time we had a dozen eggs drenched in olive oil with sliced, salted tomatoes in oil too, on the side. With good homemade bread it made a great meal. Another time a woman came out holding a rabbit by its ears and twenty minutes later we were looking at it on the plate. And that’s how we rolled along at that magical time of year when the countryside seemed from another age and its people tied firmly to their roots deep in the land.
There’s a range of mountains, La Sierra Morena, in the south of Spain. You have to cross it to get to Granada and Algeciras where the boat to Morocco is docked. The road is steep and winding with one hairpin turn after another going up and then down again. It’s exhausting on a motorcycle where one needs to find the line around the turns with good accuracy. And it’s especially tough coming down the mountains with two people aboard because of inertia and gravity. With a motorcycle it’s about gearing down and using the brakes as little as possible and judging the turns, one after another.