After Almerimar, our target was to reach the Balearics as soon as we could. Apart from the huge costs of many of the marinas on the Costa del Sol, neither Jac or I were particularly interested in spending much time on the Spanish holiday Costas and our intention was to make our way to somewhere close to Ibiza as soon as we could and hop across to the islands in quick time. However, we found ourselves unable (sensibly) to leave Amerimar for a day or two as the wind was forecast to blow hard from the northeast, exactly in the direction that we wished to go.
From the forecasts the earliest opportunity for us to depart would be 23rd June, (coincidently Brexit Day as it transpired) which gave us a couple of days to regroup and see the sights.
Way back in the dim mists of time in the 1960s and 1970s a series of films were made known as Spaghetti Westerns. They were low budget films made with Italian directors and many were filmed in locations around the Tabernas Desert near Almeria in Spain. Some such as A Few Dollars More and The Good The Bad And The Ugly were filmed at a site called Mini Hollywood not far from Almerimar so Jac and I decided to go and see it. We hired a car and 40 minutes along good roads and we arrived at a wild west town in Spain!
The drive took us through some of the weirdest countryside that we had ever seen. Crammed together over what must be thousands of acres of land, with hardly enough space to drive a truck between are huge greenhouses made of plastic sheeting where, we were informed, most of Europe’s winter vegetables are grown.
North of Almeria the landscape is very arid and it is easy to see why the film directors decided to use this area. It could easily double for the drier regions of the wild west.
Mini-Hollywood or Oasys, as it is also known turned out to be just off the main road and has probably won “The Best Kept Wild West Town Award.” The set was bought by a group of extras after the site ceased to be used for filming and is now effectively a theme park. We wandered around the General Store, the Sheriff’s office and jail, the undertakers and even the cemetery before dropping into the saloon for some light refreshment.
The bank contained a museum of cinema posters and equipment from the past with many familiar film posters on display and a large collection of old cameras and projectors.
At midday a show was staged in the main square depicting the last hours of Jesse James accompanied by gunfights and a hanging. As there were lots of children watching the show the hangee had the good grace to smile and wave before he finally expired. All part of the fun.
Behind the town is Fort Apache, now enclosing some gardens and a swimming pool and further up the hill is a quite extensive zoo. Neither Jac or I were comfortable with the sight of a magnificent Siberian Tiger and many other animals cooped up in quite small enclosures, so we didn’t spend much time there and shortly afterwards set off for Almerimar stopping at a supermarket for provisions on the way.