Zagan the motorhome’s dripping wet, it’s raining here, just north of Malaga. He’s not moved all week, although we’ve cleaned out his under-floor lockers, rubbed the dust off his gas tanks, and sat in him feeling a wee tingle of childish excitement. With only five days left to go, our Andalucian house sit is rapidly coming to an end, and the open road once again calls.
Five weeks ago we arrived feeling more than a little frazzled, after the intensity of a three month tour of Morocco. The house sit promised weeks of relaxation, and offered us a chance to get a ‘real’ taste of Spain. It’s most certainly delivered. In the time we have been here, our friends Phil and Jules who we left at Gibraltar have powered half way across Europe and are now on the Croatian island of Krk (where we were last year), having spent a week skiing in the Italian Alps on the way, no messing about!
This week kicked off with more intriguing festivities down in the town, this one being called the ‘Romería’, which is in honour of the Cristo de la Sierra – the Christ of the Mountain. The town’s called Valle de Abdalajís, after a Muslim fella: Abd-el-Aziz, but following the reconquista Spain’s been Roman Catholic, and they really love to celebrate all things religious around here!
Quite what the roots of this festival are has proved beyond my meagre powers of research, but these days it involves taking an icon of Christ from a small church built into the rock above the town on a Thursday, nipping down to Malaga with it, then bringing it back over 2 or 3 days in a convoy of horses, oxen and huge tractors. These tractors, resembling some sort of North Korean display of Ploughing Against the Imperialists strength, nigh-on rubbed against the immaculate, tiled walls of the tight-knit houses as they squeezed past. Each towed a ‘Wild West’ style wagon, out of which spilled a collection of locals, some traditional dress, all adopting various levels of inebriation. It was a lot of fun watching ’em all walk and ride past!
Ju, being wiser than I, had insisted we get into the village a while before the procession was due to arrive, thus bagging us a ring-side seat outside a local bar. Here we sat, easing ourselves into the darkening evening with a few plates of raciones, a few Cruzcampos and the odd Tinto de Verano. Our weakling Spanish skills were immediately set upon and destroyed by a kindly elderly lady sat alongside who owned the house next door. It’s would be a cliché to say we managed to communicate with her with no shared language, and would also be untrue, as we couldn’t make out much more than two words despite her repeated attempts. In the end, once the excitement was over, we left with a hug and staggered back up the hill to the villa. As cars drove past at a third the usual speed, we turned to watch them and stepped off the road, a warning from earlier that all the drivers would be hammered ringing in our ears.
The villa owner’s daughter (who works at the Wolf Park down the road, as you do) provided a second evening of entertainment for us too during the week. Her Spanish boyfriend picked us up from the villa and squeezed us along the ribbon of tarmac north of the sierra for a cracking meal at a deathly quiet, but nevertheless atmospheric, restaurant near the start of the Caminito del Rey. Over yet more Cruzcampo and overlooking the twilight-lit lakes we tucked into dustbin lid-sized plates of wild boar and ribs, and chatted about life in a wee Spanish town. It’s a pretty, bucolic place this, all goats, olive trees, white houses and rock. Life seems to have a steady, rhythmic pace to it. I wonder if I’d find it eventually stifling. Rent on a two bed flat in great condition is only €250 to €300 a month, so if push came to shove I’m fairly certain I could learn to love it!
Fun aside, we’ve (in other words Ju has) completed last year’s tax returns – a job she loathes but she keeps such detailed records she nailed ’em in a few hours. I’ve popped up more random thoughts on thematrixexperiment.com, we’ve had some great feedback on Motorhome Morocco from a couple currently over there, I’ve read The Ascent of Money (twice) and we’ve commenced peering at the map for our next place to go. Cordoba looks interesting?
Not long now before we head off. We’ll miss the poodles and the big old fella. We’ll miss the oven, bath, endless showers, and the wood burner. We’ll miss the fantastic all-round view, relaxing in the shade in the hammocks or the swinging chair listening to the birds. But we are, for this moment in our lives at least, nomads, and it’s (nearly) time to move on!