Yesterday’s drive to Maro was only eight miles along the coast road. It’s a tiny place situated on the cliff top and long since bypassed, first by the N340, then more recently, by the A7 motorway. All the parking is outside the village so I unloaded my bike in a space close to El Acueducto del Águila ---- the Eagle Aqueduct. The design is copied from the Roman style of building aqueducts so it’s made up of 37 arches arranged in four tiers.
Building was started 140 years ago to carry water to a newly opened sugar factory, one of three which were built in the district to process the locally grown sugar cane. Sugar cane has been around for more than a thousand years and it was very likely introduced into Andalusia during the Arab period. In England, because of high taxation, sugar was very expensive with the price being up there with that of the most expensive spices. But in1874 the tax was removed, making sugar available to almost everyone. Within thirty years of the Nerja & Torrox factories opening, the sugar industry in southern Spain had collapsed and with the factories closing down, the land previously growing sugar cane was turned into smallholdings, growing vegetables, mangoes, and avocados. All three factories now stand roofless, ruined and neglected.
Water still runs through the Aqueduct but it’s now diverted into various irrigation ditches for the small holdings and greenhouses. I came across an interesting picture of the San Jose factory when it was working.
Just two years ago the Aqueduct underwent extensive repairs due to damage sustained during the Civil War. During the Battle of Malaga in February of 1937, many thousands of Republican supporters left the city to avoid the bombing and bombardment from ships. After the city had fallen, many of those that had remained were executed. Franco’s military commanders, aided by Hitler’s air force and Mussolini’s navy harried the refugees as they made their way along the coast road towards Almeria. A recently laid plaque at Torre del Mar commemorates the thousands who lost their lives on the journey.
During the same week, a cargo ship – The Delfin had been chartered to deliver a cargo of rice to Malaga. As the ship approached the city, she was attacked by planes of Göring’s Luftwaffe. Bombs and aerial torpedoes failed to sink the ship, although because of engine trouble, she drifted along the coast. She went aground near to Torrox lighthouse where her crew abandoned her. They later re-boarded and the vessel was towed into deeper water. She drifted slowly eastward and was then attacked by an Italian submarine. She was finally torpedoed and the crew abandoned her once again. She sank close to the shore at Calaceite Point, less than 200 yards from the beach. Visiting the wreck is now a favourite dive for those who enjoy scuba-diving. The wreck can also be seen on Google-Earth. See my screen-shot for a close-up, and the last photo in this chapter. The white dot marks the wreck site.
My next stop was at the 17th Century church named after its patron saint, the Virgen de las Maravillas.
Across from the church a long pergola has been built to support climbing foliage. Palm trees and garden benches are spaced along one side, all with a lovely view towards the sea. The building without its roof is one of the ruined sugar factories.
From the village, I cycled down a narrow, twisting road through an area of greenhouses and small holdings. Suddenly, I was at the cliff edge, so I locked up my bike and walked some of the way down the steep hill towards a small, deserted beach sheltered between the two headlands.
Over to my left, standing high on the cliff top is one of many watchtowers built along this coast. Some were built during the Arab occupation, others during the 15th and 16th Centuries, but all for the purpose of giving early warning against Barbary Pirates intent on pillage and capturing villagers to take back for their slave markets.
On the way back to my site I decided to visit the next watchtower along the coast. I climbed the steep, zig-zag hill to the cliff top – only to be faced with disappointment. The tower was surrounded by a padlocked gate and a six-foot-high chain-link. But the view made the climb worthwhile. The white dot marks the resting place of The Delfin.
To read this blog with extra pictures see:- https://jondogoescaravanning. com/spain-nov-2018-feb-2019/