We went to Sotogrande as it is the closest Spanish port to Gibraltar that has a crane that can lift our boat out of water, which we needed to do to repair the damage caused at Benalmadena. We thought we might stay on the boat during the repairs, but after a night decided to take up a hotel room. When in repair yards, ships are maintained upright by the use of tripods and huge wood blocks. We can stay on the boat but any water the boat expels, like from the toilet or the dish washing or the shower, would end up on the asphalt ground of the repair yard, which I’m sure you can agree is not exactly good form. Also, repair yards tend to be dirty what with particles from paints and other chemicals spilt and in the air. The yard at Sotogrande is small and efficient but very dirty; after a day Slow Motion was covered in a small film of soot.
Sotogrande is very much a British enclave, yet very different from Benalmadena. This is made salient by the fact that the place has a polo club. It’s also surrounded by 3 or 4 golf courses. Constructions are limited to about 3 storeys and are of a homogeneous design. The complex of buildings near the port have shops and restaurants on the ground floor and large flats on the floors above, often with big patios adorned by potted plants and flowers. It is shaped like the number 3, the front given onto the port and the back, a road that leads out of Sotogrande. The cups are landscaped with fountains (with a suspicious air of Alhambra to them), palm trees, walkways and benches. There are other developments on small islands within the port, with names like Turtle Island, that link to the main road by a Disney-looking arched stoned bridge. After the bridge there’s a gate and a sign saying how the area is private for homeowners only. There is also a gate at the entrance of Sotogrande. At this spot, the sidewalk ends. Clearly, all those who enter into Sotogrande are meant to do so by car.
I am actually not sure whether or not Sotogrande is a town. I know it’s a port, but I think the rest of it is a domain. Like a housing development for the upper-middle class. Needless to point out that the hotels are quite expensive. We opted for the Hotel las Camelias, which was up the road from Sotogrande and accepts pets. Las Camelias is what we’d call in North America a motel. There was a table and 2 chairs (that I had to wash down before using) on the porch in front of our room with a view of the sea. The window in our bathroom gave onto the highway. Everything inside the room was a bit tardy but clean. The owners were extremely friendly.
All in all, our stay in Sotogrande was good. The men who worked in the shipyard, managed by a young sailor called Nacho, did a very good job at fixing our hulls. Nacho found us a printer who could (finally!) print and install the design that our friend Julie made for us, giving Slow Motion a little facelift. I mostly rested as I came back from Paris with a cold and my dizzy spells were still quite bad. I found in Sotogrande the British/anglo-saxon food I love, namely vegetarian pub food, nachos, and carrot cake. By the time we left our pocket book was dented (unplanned repairs and restaurants) and the boat was filthy, but Sotogrande definitely removed the bad taste in our mouths left by Benalmadena.