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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The 22nd Palma Canaria Norte Rally

Surprise road closure

You may not believe this, until you live here, but you just never know what you are going to wake up and find on any given day - like that the end of your road is blocked off because a rally is going to be whizzing past all day, not more than 50 yards away - as I did yesterday, Saturday, morning. Nope, nobody told us residents in advance. What if we'd had plans to go out? Had no food in the house? Or a medical emergency? Tough bloody shit!

Actually, I wasn't really complaining, because I didn't have plans, quite enjoy motor sports or any event that comes to me, but truly, the first I knew about it was when I saw these barriers being put across and a small van from TV Channel 6 at the junction.

We haven't had the rally come through the El Palmar valley for five years, so I was told (really was it that long?), but I clearly remember last time. Then it had started before I woke up. In other words, it woke me, with the noise of cars and the dog, who spent the entire time barking and hiding, until I dragged her down to see that there was nothing to worry about. So, yesterday, I decided to take preventative measures. Fastened the dog's lead firmly round my waist, grabbed the camera and joined the growing crowd (about 20 people, but that's 19 more than one usually sees round here) of rally afficionados.

They drive too fast to catch 'em!

The other spectators were definitely kitted out properly for the event. Did Fernando Alonso get his hair cut? Maybe not, because he wouldn't have time to be here in Tenerife, while he was busy claiming pole position for the Spanish Gran Prix.

I'll take a moment to tell you all about the marshaling and safety on this rally. Maybe the bloke who put the barriers across had this job, but not so's you'd notice. I kept slightly more than a dog's lead length back from the line of the curb, but we were all the wrong side of the barriers, there were people sitting on the metal crash barriers, others walking across the road, along the side of the course - the road you see that has no pavements. In other words, totally uncontrolled mayhem, as is typical on these islands.

Half way into frame

We only stayed about an hour. By this time, the dog had stopped trying to dash back up the hill every time a car came. In fact, she was just bored and eventually sat down, but as I turned to climb back up the hill, there sitting waiting for us, perfectly relaxed and laid back, not more than 10 yards from the crowd, the road, all the screaming rally cars ... were these two lads. Their sister was there with them too, so I think I can confidently claim to have the only silly CATS on the planet who chose to watch a rally.

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