Cartagena – Traveling East

Last weekend we travelled east by car for a little sightseeing. Lunara is in a boat yard and after many 12 hour work days in the yard, we were ready for a little rest and relaxing. On Saturday we drove a short distance to the east and Sunday to the west (separate blog entry coming up later)

East of Cartagena

A very interesting drive along the port on a winding road uphill, later on a high cliff with great views of the port and the coast line on the other side of the bay, all in-between passing through short tunnels.

Then we entered Escombreras, a huge industrial area and port with refineries, cement factories and left over buildings from mining centuries ago. The landscape is barren and plastered with huge ball shaped gas tanks dotting the hillside for miles mixed with silvery shining pipes in front of a brownish landscape. It’s sci-fi looking, exactly how I would imagine a doomsday settlement on Mars. It was difficult to photograph, wanting to say below does not reflect properly the view.

We off-roaded our Fiat Panda rental car through a silver and lead mining area from the last century. Ruins of an industrial era gone by. We were heading for the beach ‘Playa El Gorguel’.

Dirt road to El Gorguel
Yes, a Fiat Panda can pass through the middle arch. the Admiral closed the eyes :-), just kidding.
Old silver mine
Open pit mining

The beach and bay was scenic. Along the east side of the cliff were shacks. No running water or electricity and most residences seemed to be modest vacation spots. Nearly the whole bay’s entrance was blocked by a fish farm set some hundred meters from the beach. The sand was blackish.

El Gorguel

Nevertheless it is scenic, interesting and weirdly fascinating.

Cave El Gorguel
El Gorguel
Beautiful flowers. I don’t know what they are. The green stem of the plant and the leaves are very firm.


After El Gorguel we followed the dirt road further east. Portmán was initially a first century roman enclave used mostly for mining. Mining continued into the 1980s. Many hundred millions of tons of mining residuals and chemicals were dumped into the bay. The fishing port, because of all the deposits, disappeared and a new, smaller port was built on the east side of the bay. However, this port is small and the entrance so silted and narrow we could nearly walk over the port entrance.

The prime real estate of the bay and beach area have become catch basins for the open mining deposits and waste which still wash out from up the valley 40 years later. The french mining company disappeared after mining became unprofitable and left without cleaning up the area which they were contractually required to do. The EU and Spain spent 80million Euros since 2011 in the cleanup effort. Still, the little hamlet looks destroyed for one or two more generations of Portmán citizens. As it is, Portmán could have lived of tourism probably better than mining, but not today.

The bay of Portmán. To the right at the bottom of the hills is the original coast line.

Side note:

Our boat is in repairs, but we are in better shape than below 🙂

That’s it for today. Bye, bye.

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