Day 4: Family Camping Road Trip in Fuenmayor, La Rioja, Spain

“There are people here!,” the boys said in excitement, almost in unison. After over 430-something kilometers on non-toll roads from Sierra de Francia towards the Pyrenees, passing by Salamanca and Bourgos, we arrive at our back up camping site in Fuenmayor. Unlike last summer’s camping road trip, when we were flexible and chose our camping sites when we were on the road and ready to stop, this year’s post-coronavirus lockdown uncertainties made us have pre-planned camping sites with a backup and a back up to a back up.

That’s because many campgrounds that we called a week prior to the trip were closed.

Since we have planned on going to smaller towns and villages, this could be an unwelcome situation especially when traveling with children.

And, yes there are a lot of people in this primarily long-term residential camping site made up mostly of camper vans and caravans that must have come here in the 70s and never left.

One even has a faded out poster of the Soviet Union with writings in Cyrillic saying “Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live!” while another has a multiple lock, metal door entrance to an old tarp-tent.

This campsite reminds us how delightful it is to see how loud and lively Spanish people could be when among friends and family and how late children stay up at night… to past midnight!

Although this campsite is busy with people, especially in the swimming pool area, everybody seems to keep their distance and maintain social distancing norms.

The only reminder here that coronavirus may still be lurking around is the notable lack of besitos (little kisses) and hugs that usually accompany Spanish welcome greetings, the occasional masks that people wear when indoors, and the 1-or-so-meter distance between people.

Unique features of Camping Fuenmayor: a barbecue area, two swimming pools (one for toddlers) that are a bit small for the population density, and a football-combo-basketball court on the other side of the campground.

The town’s main square is quite charming, with mask-free, summer revelers enjoying tapas and drinks at a couple of restaurant/bars under trees whose leafy branches seem to open up to the sky, embrace each other and form a shadeful canopy to give the mortals below some respite from the summer heat.

That’s it for our visit in this part of the Rioja wine region where the only taste of wine we had were from our stockpile of Morenita and Fino from Jerez.

Next stop: crossing the French border in the Pyrenees mountains.

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