Alcossebre isn’t in Lonely Planet’s guide to Spain. It’s no surprise, really… it’s not a whitewashed village or a cosmopolitan city. It is a village inhabited only in the last century or so – and mainly by Spanish retirees. It is a village of second homes and holiday apartments on the Costa Del Alzhar.
Our home exchange was located just a few hundred metres from the best beach in town and we arrived there on narrow, twisted back roads through groves of oranges and olives until suddenly we arrive in a small city of apartments.
The car safely locked behind our remote control operated iron gates, we were on the first floor overlooking our spotlessly clean pool and small garden meticulously, if not lovingly cared for by our serious and unsmiling gardener.
The view from the block was quite spectacular, especially if you ignored the surrounding apartment blocks, some of which reminded me of a prison. A jolly prison, for sure – and one with a bright blue swimming pool that shimmered in the sunshine, but something of a prison just the same…
What price our security? Never once did we imagine our safety here in Alcossebre would be compromised. Our fellow holiday makers were mostly retired or young families.. Absolutely zero pan handlers and I can only recall seeing two touts of the ubiquitous sunglasses and handbags that appear in every coastal location. We had free and secure parking and the streets and beaches were amongst the cleanest I’ve seen.
Our stay was relaxed – especially with no WiFi – and the apartment contained everything we needed. Travelling a 1000 miles plus the ferry journey ensured we had no desire to take any trips outwith the area, and we really had no need.
But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something slightly out of kilter with this small town. Something slightly Stepford Wives about it… and then we met up with our home exchange host Maria a week or so later in Valencia, and she mentioned an occasion forty years or so ago, in Franco’s time when she was walking alone in a busy part of the city (it may have been Valencia, I can’t recall) at no risk of any harm and an American had warned her that one day she would be aware that the country had exchanged its safety for its freedom.
On that note – our week in Alcossebre was perfectly pleasant. We slipped into step most easily and enjoyed days on the beach, playing in the pool and siestas. We ventured up a mountain with 20% inclines once more to visit a church which was closed and clung on to each other in what seemed like tropical force winds. We walked north along the coast in blistering heat to discover a jewel strewn pebble cove on the edge of the wilderness and walked south to discover another Fort and church and tropically beautiful shorelines.
We even imagined our own second home here, all safe and secure. A lock up and go apartment. Easy to clean, easy to heat. And easy to imagine we would wake up one day and discover we were in prison after all. A prison of our own making – but a prison, all the same. Safety for freedom, anyone?
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