|Promise of Spring|
I realized this morning that I have not written a blog post in nearly two months. During our first year I posted almost weekly as everything was new and noteworthy; now we are just living our lives and, while we regularly comment on how fortunate we feel to live here, the day-to-day tasks don’t feel quite so remarkable as they once did.
Today I am sitting in my new writing space. We have done some re-working of the stable so that I can have a room of my own; a retreat space with a view, dedicated to writing and reflection. It is not quite finished, but yesterday we carried a chair up so I could test out the ambiance, and now I am wallowing in contentment as I write this post.
|The entry to my new space|
The almond blossom started about a month ago. On the south facing slopes the pink and white pedals are surrendering to the wind and new leaves. But on north-facing hillsides, the trees are in full bloom and we can look across to the Contraviesa, several kilometers away, and see swaths of delicate color, like ribbons of pulled taffy, flowing down the steep slopes. We have taken several hikes on trails that cut through orchards and, once again, my phone is full of photos of these beautiful blossoms. The honey bees are out on the warmer days and the trees almost vibrate with the happy humming of these miraculous creatures.
|So much color on the Contraviesa|
After a year and a half of pushing his wheelbarrow all over our very steep property, Sam settled on a vehicle to assist with this Sisyphean task. He did lots of research and considered many options before settling on an UTV that is covered and has a roll bar and a bed that tilts. One option was a “dumper,” a very noisy tractor-like vehicle that is used all over the Alpujarras, but several weeks ago a friend-of-a-friend rolled his over and he was crushed beneath it. Safety became even more of a consideration.
For years I have wanted an Italian Ape; a three wheeled cart/truck that is named for the loud bee-like buzzing sound that it makes. But again, we were concerned about safety and stability as there are no flat places on our land, and the Ape would have been power-challenged to make it up to our place.
|A "dumper" on top and an Ape below; both good options, for other circumstances|
We also wanted something that could get us off the mountain in an emergency. Sections of the road to our cortijo have washed off the side from time to time, leaving the only escape option an even rougher track that goes up behind us and over the top.
So after considering all those things, including price and availability, this past week the purchase was made. Sam found what he wanted online and we made the three hour drive to Puente Genil to check it out. Vincente greeted us and soon his father, and then his mother and eventually his friend who spoke English came to help with the transaction. The mechanic was sent off on his scooter to purchase a liter of gas so we could test drive the vehicle and before long hands were shook, the credit card was handed over and a delivery date and location negotiated.
Delivery is always an interesting challenge here. We sort of have an address, but what we actually have are GPS coordinates. Envelopes go to our PO box in a town about 45 minutes away, while parcels are delivered to a business in the same town. Larger packages are delivered either to the BP station, or to the bar or carpenter’s shop in Soportújar. But for this delivery we agreed to meet at the Ermita del Padre Eterno, a small shrine where the tarmac road meets our dirt track.
|Ermita del Padre Eterno - Also meeting place for deliveries and guests|
Early on Friday afternoon Vincente arrived with his mother and father and our UTV. Kisses were shared all around, Vincente wanted photos of us with the vehicle and then we bid them hasta luego. Sam drove the UTV up the mountain and I followed behind. While the neighbor kids were excited to go for a ride, it will basically be a work horse and my hope is that it will give Sam’s back and knees a few more years.
|Mom and dad supervise Vincente - the danger sign to the right is for our road.|
Last night we went to the Festival of San Antón in nearby Soportújar. This festival typically occurs in January, but the organizer of Soportújar's particulars was very ill in January and so it was cancelled. After he recovered it was rescheduled, and last night the entire village was out in celebration. There were fireworks, a processional from the church and at 9:00 the bonfires were scheduled to be lit.
|We were right under the fireworks!|
|Soportújar with the moon over the church|
The fires are in two huge low-sided dumpsters, filled with olive wood. A third dumpster serves as an enormous barbecue where chunks of pork are grilled and then distributed in thick slices of bread with glasses of local wine. The fires got going closer to 10:00 and we ate our chunks of meat and bread sometime after 11:00.
|Getting the party started!|
This was our second year to attend and we were warmed, not only by the raging fires, but by the kindness that radiated from the townspeople. There was music and dancing and everywhere laughter and happy conversation.
What impressed us most was the kids. Our friends have two kids who go to the village school and all of their classmates (10 in total) were there. Soon after arriving, the kids were off and we only occasionally saw them during the next three hours. They all watch out for each other and while the ages range from six years old to eleven, and with a gender balance that seems to favor boys - they all are all included in whatever they do.
Still stunned by the most recent school massacre in the United States, we couldn't help but find joy in the freedom and innocence of these kids, for whom safety is a given and fear is not a constant companion.
|Kids free to just be kids.|