This week we needed a break. Not from the paradise that we are fortunate to call home, but from the increasingly worrisome morning routine of scanning the headlines to learn what happened in the U.S. while we slept.
So on Monday we went to the coast. After a quick stop for a few items at the hardware store and the grocery in Motril we drove down towards the Mediterranean for lunch. The restaurant is right on the beach and we enjoyed sitting outside in the warm sunshine watching the waves gently glide onto the deserted stretch of coastline. After lunch we took a stroll along the water, stopping to pick up colorful stones as we walked. The swoosh and swish of the continuous waves arriving then filtering through the pebbled shore as they recede, was comforting. We seemed to have the entire beach to ourselves on this warm January day, and it was just what we needed.
|The beach in Motril|
Tuesday morning we were off early to explore some villages that have been on my must-see list since our trip to Spain in 2008. Our first stop was in the white village of Frigliana set high on a hillside with steep mountains for a backdrop and a view across the Mediterranean to the mountains of Africa.
|View across the Mediterranean from Frigliana|
It was a cloudless day and the whitewashed houses were brilliant against the deep blue sky. We started with a stop for coffee and at first resisted the touristy atmosphere. There were several busses and many Northern Europeans and Brits wandering about. But after our coffee we decided to go ahead and explore since we were there.
The narrow streets that wind up the hillside revealed charming doors painted in a range of pastels. We visited an art gallery and stopped frequently to take photos of colorful flowering plants, village cats, and the postcard-view. It didn't take long to get into tourist-mode ourselves and in the end we found the town to be delightful and worth re-visiting when we have guests to entertain.
|Narrow street in Frigliana|
|Wonderful doors in Frigliana|
|Another beautiful door|
Back in the car we maneuvered through the narrow streets until we were on the other side of Frigliana headed towards Torrox. Several kilometers out of town we found the sign for the village of El Acebuchal. The drive on the narrower-than-one-lane road would have been a white knuckle experience back in 2008, but we did it with relative ease and after about 8 kilometers dropped down into the tiny village.
El Acebuchal, once an important had been abandoned after the Spanish Civil War. In the summer of 1948 Franco evicted the 200 inhabitants and the Guardia Civil moved into their homes to fight the Republican rebels who had dug into the rugged mountains in the surrounding area. Eventually the village was only a collection of ruined houses and became known locally as the "Village of Ghosts." Now it has been almost entirely restored by descendants of the last inhabitants and there is a thriving restaurant that attracts visitors to the village. We enjoyed a delicious meal there surrounded by Brits and Germans. Another tourist-oriented stop, but worth the trip.
|Lunch in El Acebuchal|
|A street in El Acebuchal|
The waiter discouraged us from taking the 13 km dirt track out the west side of the village, so we returned to the tarmac road the same way we had arrived, and then continued west. I had decided on a route ahead of time but Sam noticed it was a red and white line on the map. He consulted the key and discovered that red and white meant "Winding and Dangerous." I thought that sounded perfect!
We found the narrow twisting road and it did have a few places that were concerning, but compared to what we have gotten used to, it was lovely. There were even guardrails and we only encountered a few cars in the hour and half journey. I kept pointing to various views only to be instructed to "keep your eyes on the road!"
The almond trees are starting to bloom and to me there is nothing prettier than the fluffy pink blossoms.
Steep hillsides, terraced and planted with fruit and nut trees were all we could see in every direction. Occasionally a narrow driveway would disappear over the side and we said repeatedly that we would never live there! I can't imagine plunging off the roadside onto one of those drives.
Finally we arrived at our hotel on Lake Viñuela. A booking.com find, we were upgraded to a corner room with a lake view in this luxury hotel, for 56 euros. And that included an extensive breakfast buffet the next morning! It was a lovely location and our room was very comfortable. The heated bathroom floor was especially welcomed after our relatively cold cortijo. We enjoyed our evening and a spectacular meal in their dining room. We will definitely return to Hotel La Vinuela.
|Our patio and view at Hotel La Vinuela|
Wednesday we found another winding road through almond orchards to make our way towards the IKEA in Malaga. It was the end of our peaceful getaway, but we needed to purchase some furniture for the guest room. Purchases made, and car packed tightly we headed back home. Whether we are away for an afternoon, an overnight, or a week, when we pop over the hill and see our cortijo below us and Mulhacén in the near distance, we are happy to be back.
In other news, we have new neighbors. A young couple from Belgium has moved in with their three horses, a collection of dogs and some cats. They are lovely people and we are happy to include them in our group of exceptional neighbors. They have not yet received the permit to build a shelter for their horses and this week we have had very cold nights, some with snow and high winds. We offered our vacant stable to them and we have enjoyed going out in the morning and seeing two lovely horses looking out the stable doors.
|Fun to have horses in our stable!|
Friday afternoon we invited the new neighbors and another neighbor family for dinner. I was making veggie chili and cornbread so I just made more. It was a stormy night but having a houseful of kind people was the coziest atmosphere imaginable. Today we walked across the field to see our neighbors' new puppy and as we walked back home a couple hours later we remarked on the magic of this life. We woke up this morning with no plans but ended up visiting the puppy, staying for coffee and cake and then returning home with gifts of oranges and laurel branches and some Kombucha starter.
|The view on our walk home from our neighbor|
There is so much right here to remind us each day that many people are kind, and life is good.
|Flowers on a wall in Orgiva|
|Our hyacinth is blooming!|
|Just another photo from a recent walk in the neighborhood|