Nacho Algre  A Summer Trip 2010

"We travelled south during the night. My friend, photographer COKE BARTRINA, drove the first 6 hours and I drove the next 7. For six hours we listened to Animal Collective and "El Guincho" and for the next 7, to Pink Floyd. It was beautiful to see the sun set and rise from the same road, but 1000 km away and to a different soundtrack. We arrived first in Marbella where I had to shoot a job. That was part of the plan; the magazine would cover our costs so we would be traveling for free most of the trip. Funnily enough, we were staying in the same hotel -and perhaps same villa- as Michelle Obama. She had come the day after. We were 5, so Coke and I stayed in my room and the other three camped in Coke's room. It felt like something very illegal, sneaking them into this hotel, full of huge, bodybuilder type CIA agents in sunglasses and suits. 

We would bring food and drink from the supermarket and cook it in our room. The good thing about nice hotels is, I guess, is that they leave their clients alone. The hotel was very tacky, full of (most likely) fake roman statues and surrounded by a golf course, a fake lake and building cranes, but we had a great room with a private swimming pool so we felt like the kids in "Less Than Zero." From Marbella we drove further south to Cadiz. The South of Spain is a magic place, still real and wild. Here Sergio Leone filmed most of his spaghetti western movies, like "THE GOOD THE BAD & THE UGLY" and "For a Few Dollars More." There are plenty of legends about bastard children that Clint Eastwood or Franco Nero had after they got some girl pregnant, who grew up thinking their fathers were real cowboys, and pretended to be cowboys as well. There are still a few abandoned Western towns with their saloon and everything, and other where the locals, and probably some of those kids, recreate the life in the far west for the tourists.

From the six star hotel we moved down to the camping site. We had bought our tent in Carrefour, which is a French version of Walmart. Putting it up was a nightmare, in fact I don't think it was possible. Of course, we never really tried, and every night all kind of insects and little animals would eat us alive. My travelling companions were a bit younger than me, and less concerned about the virtues of hygiene, proper eating and quality drinking. After three days of eating white rice i made up some sort of paella recipe (similar to a Catalan dish called "mar i muntanya") which was a nice way of, at least during the time your plate was full, feeling like less of a gypsy and more like you had managed to have some success in your life.

Camping Paella:
2 big onions
2 cloves of garlic.
1 can of crushed tomato
10 sausages or chicken legs
10 prawn
white rice
oil, pepper and salt.
Being a camping recipe, it doesn't have to be very precise. Chop the onion and garlic very thinly and cook it with the gas as low as you can. Cook and stir until it's transparent. Then add the prawn heads (not the tail) and the meat and let them cook for a bit more. If you want, now is the time to add a bit of wine to the brew. After that, add the tomato and let it cook for another half an hour at least. Then, take out the prawn heads and add the tails and the rice (1 cup per person should be fine) and some water. Let it rest with low fire until the rice is done, and there you go! The best part is the rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan.
From Cadiz we travelled back up to Tarifa and then to Cabo de Gata. The camping site in Cadiz was full of weird punks, all with mullets, ethnic tattoos and wooden earrings. Tarifa was more of a surfer site, and Cabo de Gata was full of new age hippies and vegans. We passed next to Gibraltar in the motorway and showed our middle finger to the British and the monkeys. We were stopped in a town called Balanegra by two policemen searching for drugs. We were nervous looking for our IDs, and I took the ashtray out of the glove compartment and left it there for everyone to see, with all our weed inside. I didn't realize, but everyone in the car was panicking. They didn't look like they had much to do but still pretended not to see. We enjoyed driving slowly on curvy roads and stopping to pee from the cliffs.
For many years I hadn't sensed this feeling of being carelessly on holiday; a state of boredom where every day you would wake up and go through the same routines, but knowing you would love it. Every morning we would go to a bar and order 1 coffee with milk and ice, 1 normal coffee with milk and 3 "americanos" with ice. After that we would roll our cigarettes, drink the coffees, then go to the beach and play football or read. Every night we would be sunburnt, we'd put cream on ourselves, drink sherry with 7up and mint (rebujito they call it here), play some cards, and sleep in the same shorts we had woken up in the night before and worn every day since we left. It was a great time."

 - Nacho Algre