Tuesday, January 10, 2017

killing the dragon

Every good adventure tale requires an exotic destination.

El Dorado. The Celestial City. Mordor. Shangi-La. And if a few pieces of gold, a dragon, and trolls are thrown in along the way, a rollicking tale it shall be.

We took one of those journeys together in gold on the beach, where we discovered a deserted beach with its own eerie history. Alas, there were no dragons or trolls. But there was gold -- and lots of it.

Finding the destination was easy. There is a "Playa de Oro" sign on the main highway directing the acolyte conquistador to the promised "X."

I was not so lucky in Greece. From my house, I could see an odd peak on the horizon amongst the mountains that ringed Patras. Several times, I set off in its direction, with map on hand, to find it. No matter which way I approached it, it was always out of reach. Like a Greco-Brigadoon.

My experience is that most adventures are of the second variety. We can get close to them, but they always slip through our fingers. Like moonbeams.

For the past eight years, an adventure destination has haunted me -- buildings on top of a rock that juts into the ocean on the western end of Melaque. I could see it from several vantage points -- its straight lines giving away its existence on the edge of the serrated rock. From the beach. From the ocean. Above it on the mirador.

I decided this week it was the time for adventure. So, we loaded our fellowship of the bling into my Escape and drove up into the hills as far as we could.

I knew a path led across the rocks for a mile or two. But it was a route for horses or pedestrians, not my SUV. Having earlier girded our loins, we set off down the road.

This was one of those adventures where the journey was far more interesting than the destination -- in a way. I have posted numerous photographs over the years of this handsome country made up of crashing surf and boat-crushing rocks. But I had never seen it from this angle.

Our sweat equity rewarded us with this view of the Pacific Ocean just before its forms Navidad Bay.

Comparisons are a tourist's stock in trade. So, I can say without the slightest twinge of guilt that these rock formations remind me a lot of the Oregon coast.

Call me provincial, if you like.

Even the view on the other side of the path, looking across the bay to Melaque, was rewarding.

Reaching our destination was a bit anti-climactic. Here it is.

Yup. It looks a bit like one of those villages Islamic State has captured and killed everyone whose religion differs from theirs.

But the place is more interesting that that. All ruins have a certain charm. Otherwise who would bother with trekking to Delphi? Even the oracle has left town.

The main building is just a concrete rectangle divided into two simple rooms.

I have been told several stories about the purpose of these buildings. That it is a hideout for outlaws. That it was a romantic hideaway for attorneys from Guadalajara. That it was once a restaurant.

I tend to believe the most prosaic of those tales. That it was once a restaurant with an ill-conceived business plan. But the writer in me kept hoping to find some evidence that it was a pirate lair.

Whatever it once was, it is now a love shack. The scores of discarded condoms is evidence enough of that. Not to mention that graffiti on the building declaring it to be the "HOUSE OF LOVE."

In its prior life, it even had its own restrooms -- with toilets that allowed the waste to tumble down the cliff face into the sea.

The turkey vultures added an exotic touch. After all, what adventure is worth its sodium chloride without a few carrion-eaters?

After taking a look around, I could not imagine why anyone would cart all of the material to build this complex out on these rocks. Who did he expect to attract all the way out here? What was his dream?

The answer is there. And it surrounded us on our walk on the path. It would be worth making the trip here to dine on veal piccata or chicken marsala if this was the accompanying view.

Who knows? I might even eat a taco in such a place.

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