As we looked down upon the map the red lines that crisscrossed the route we were to take looked ominous on the page. It was with trepidation that we checked to see their description as ‘dangerous’ in the key.
We turned from our comfortable ‘A road’ status onto this new unknown demon. As if conspiring with the French map we had been using, the Spanish road signs predicted trouble ahead. Intimidating cautions of bulls on the road were followed by warnings of deer, not the British variety of deer prancing daintily on their triangular sign. These Spanish deer would be leaping, all four hooves in the air, bounding in a kamikaze-esque head on collision. Added to this maelstrom of anticipated danger was a warning that, in spite of the thirty-five degree temperatures outside, ice may well be a possibility. This was compounded by the danger that as we skidded to our slippery deaths rocks would be tumbling to cover us.
At this point I should be describing beautiful mountain views, crystal blue waters of glacial lakes, sweet smelling pines and pastel shaded rocks. I am sure they were all there but in truth I remember none of them as I became consumed by the need to leave this road. Most importantly, this was a real chance to prove my manhood. With only an up to date road map, clearly signposted roads and a fully programmed sat nav, a successfully navigated route through the Spanish hill was surely a feet of which Hercules himself would be proud.
We passed by more signs for water points along the way. No doubt put there for all those poor souls who had succumbed to the road. Could we consider ourselves truly safe with only two and a half litres of Evian in our refrigerated cool box?
Crisis struck as the petrol gauge went down to two bars. The sat nav told us that there were only 6 kilometres left on this road. Yet coming from a family where the car always had at least enough petrol to get us from Hampshire to Scotland, just in case, this was a distressing development. If it came to it, which would we have to turn off just to conserve energy, the air conditioning or the radio?
Hurtling through blind tunnels and passing by sheer drops there was little conversation between the two of us. As if our fears were wholly grounded we passed workmen toiling with the road. Driving gingerly past we were to be confronted with the final peril of our journey. The gallivanting deer had not shown their faces, nor had the bulls, clearly too busy they had asked their friends the belligerent sheep to stand stubbornly in the middle of the road, barring our path to freedom.
It may not have been the Altiplano, nor Death Valley so sat now reading about the travels of more intrepid explorers around the world we are left considering our own Pyrenean very yuppie adventure.