There’s no doubt about it, and most of the visitors here in southern Spain agrees, that this has been the coldest winter we have experienced. That’s not to say that it has been wet, because it hasn’t. You only need to see the shockingly low levels in the reservoirs to appreciate that, but many nights have been much colder and some days have been decidedly chilly. Of course that’s speaking relatively. When I say some nights have been cold I’m talking 5C and a chilly day is when the temperature doesn’t get much above14C. Probably in a few weeks time when I’m home, 14 degrees will seem quite barmy.
But yesterday, when the Australian guy told me 21 degrees was forecast for the afternoon, I had a sudden urge to pack some lunch and a beer into the cool box and go out for the day. This would be my first day out since that distastrous fall off my bike four weeks ago. I set off along the motorway to Velez Malaga where I turned inland and headed up to Lake Viñuela. I resisted the urge to stop at my favourite lay-by over-looking the Lake and instead, headed over into the next valley where I took the road up to Alcaucin. The village is located in the foot hills of the Sierra de Tejeda mountains and from the road climbing up to the village, there are some stunning views. Looking across the valley is the U-shaped pass known as the Boquete de Zafarraya.
It was here just a few years ago that in one of the caves high up above the pass, the remains of a Neanderthal skeleton was uncovered. A twisting, steep road leads through the pass to the village of Zafarraya which is built on a plateau on the far side of the mountain range. The road was once an important trade route between Granada and the coast. So much so, that the Moors built a castle and town over looking the road.
Closer to my view point were the first signs of Spring with the almond blossom beginning to bloom.
The olive harvest was also just getting underway with huge sheets being spread beneath the trees.
Labourers then use long handled rakes to pull down the olives before being gathered up and packed into sacks.
At the village the road ends so with no through traffic, it has an unspoilt, traditional charm. Car parking is at both ends of the village. Walking through the narrow streets, the first object of interest is the restored Moorish fountain, La Fuente de los Cinco Caños, with its five spouts providing fresh spring water.
Whatever the time of year, the fountains never cease to run. There’s a traditional story that if an unmarried person drinks from the centre spout, that person will marry someone from the village within the year. But there’s no need to rush! I tried it three years ago and it didn’t work!
From the fountain I walked through the narrow streets up to the tiny Plaza where there’s the town hall and the 16th Century church. What a shame all these beautiful photo opportunities have to be spoilt by the parking of cars. The best shot I could find was the bell tower peeping over the orange trees.
There can’t be many towns and villages in Spain without its share of abandoned building projects. Sadly the outskirts of this beautiful village is blighted by hundred of half built apartment blocks and houses. These ones have been derelict for more than 10 years.
Whatever will become of them?
To read this blog with several more photographs see my blog at https://jondogoescaravanning. com/a-spanish-winter-2017-2018/