18-Aug-2005 -- I learnt about the Degree Confluence Project a year ago and every day I check my computer to read and enjoy the pictures and stories. So, as I live in Zaragoza (Aragón), the community in Spain where the Prime Meridian crosses from North to South, and meets parallel 42N and 41N, I decided to try and catch one of these two points. At last, I would become a member of the Degree Confluence Project "Club"...!
Things were not easy because, while I wanted to do it, I ran into a lot of trouble. A few months ago, this year, I started at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning and taking my car, I went to Valdealgorfa (Teruel) near 42N 0 Degrees. The point seemed very easy to catch, but I left my maps at home, where I had been looking a lot of times at the Confluence, highways, roads, and small country trails, to go there some day... At 70 km, and an hour and half from the start, without good maps, I did not want to be back home with empty hands. I took the Michelin guide from my car, took the GPS and started just where 0º Prime Meridian crosses the road from Zaragoza (Aragón Community) to Castellón (Valencia Community), by the Mediterranean Sea.
I left my car in a good spot and after a short time took an unpaved farm trail and started walking for a while, looking for the zeros of the meridian on the GPS, while going toward the North, step by step and crossing a couple of fields. After half an hour I looked back, and my heart jumped in my body. I only saw olive trees, fields, stones,... and said, "where is my car...?" I was lost. Really lost and worried.
As I had walked on some fields, my footprint was still there and I could follow the trace until... I saw in the distance the nice and marvellous car. The rest of the story is easy. I came back home and said nothing about my adventure to my family, because... I'm 71!
Confluence hunting on our own is not recommendable at a certain age. But, I wanted to do a Confluence! So last month of August, I was spending two weeks in L'Estartit (Torroella de Montgri, Gerona), a nice village by the shores of the Costa Brava. I was with my wife in her sister's home. As I don't like sea water and sun, I always spend holidays walking, or doing little trips to small villages, monuments, museums, monasteries, churches, and even going to the library. I knew that 20 km away was the Confluence 42N 3E, in Corçà, a small village near La Bisbal (Gerona) and Pubol, the Castle Gala-Dali, where the Gala grave is inside.
One day, maybe August 18th, at 10 a.m. more or less, without saying a thing to my family, I decided to do the point (I had studied it many times). It was very easy. In half an hour from L'Estartit I was, after a good road ended at a good track, near the point. At the end of this track I found a Masia (a typical Catalonian farm house). An old woman was out of the house, and she asked me, "Where are you going?"
- Good morning, I said, while two little dogs were smelling at my feet, I want to go to the field and take some pictures. May I have your permission?
- Well, take the car away and go were you want, no cars on the field, she told me.
I left the car under a big tree and started my adventure. I walked over three more fields, and about 200 meters from the Masia... I got to the point, and I was a happy hunter! I took the required pictures and was very happy, having done the work that I wanted many times. But I couldn't get the last zeros because the dogs were looking, smelling and running around me. And then I returned to the house. There I saw a man, he was waiting for me.
- Good morning, I said.
- Nothing at all, who are you? He said.
- I'm looking for a Confluence between parallel 42N and meridian 3E. It is in your field two hundred meters from here.
- What did you say?
- Some people already came here to do the same, maybe three times. I have seen it on the Internet, I said. I was speaking in Catalonian language, because I learned it when I was in Barcelona for five years to become an architect. At this moment he said:
- Let us speak in Spanish because I do not understand a thing.
- Well, you have an interesting point in your field, I said.
- Sorry, give me your name, because I think you are a man of the Office Government of Catalonia and you want to build a highway through my fields!
- No I'm only an architect spending my holydays in L'Estartit, d'you know?
- Yes, so you want to build a lot of houses on my farm!
- No, I said. It is impossible for me; I live in Zaragoza, 450 km away.
- And where do you live in L'Estartit? He said.
- Do you know a submarine dresser shop in a square near the port? I said.
- Yes, he said.
- Well, I live upstairs, I said.
- Now you must go away. Many people come here, asking for Pubol Castle or looking for having lunch, but nobody wanted points or meridians in my field like you.
I went and came back home. I told the story I had with the "Pages" (a farmer in Catalonia) to my wife and brothers-in-law. "One day you will be in a trouble", they said, "because you are always running perilous sites!" After I had lunch, I went to have a "siesta". A few minutes later I heard the bell at the main entrance of the house and a man's voice asking for me. "He is sleeping", said my wife. I jumped up, put my trousers, shirt, and shoes on and went to the entrance. There was the "Pages" with a woman and a girl. "Hello, good afternoon!", he said, "I came here with my wife and daughter, because I did not understood a thing about the point on my property and I would like you to explain to them the same you told me this morning."
So I told them all about the Degree Confluence Project, meridians, parallels and the point in the fields of his property. "You see, I explained that, meridians and parallels, last winter in a work of school", said the mother to her daughter. I took a map, a good map that I bought in Gerona, edited for the Institut Cartografic de Catalunya, E. 1:40,000, and I showed them the confluence of the 42N parallel and the 3E meridian just one cm (200 m) from the Mas Terrades, which they are the owners of. I always get a god aerial map, IGC, E.1:5,000, and they could see on it in detail the house, fields, and the Confluence.
-Now I understand, but, who is the Chairman of this Society? The woman said.
- No, this is not a Society; it is like a game, like a club all over the world, with members in many countries, I said. Do you have you a computer?
- Yes, she said.
- Look at www.confluence.org, and you will see three visits at the point, I said. She had a paper with my name and I wrote the website on it.
- Well, this is all, they said.
- Good bye.
- Good bye.
This is what happened during my first Confluence catch. I'm very happy having done it alone and it was very easy to meet. I'm the first Spaniard at this point, according to what I've seen on the Confluence page.
Now, I'm sure I'll do two more points I want: the 0 Meridian crossings in the Aragón Community. I showed my son, an architect, too, all that I wrote, and he said: "I'm not sure if you are the first Spaniard having caught this point, but sure you are the oldest!"