Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Hike, A Festival, Official Residency and an Injury

We have enjoyed a full week of beautiful weather. Early in the week we went in search of poppies. I've been told of a particular area that will dazzle me with fields of red poppies, and I don't want to miss that. We drove up through Pampaneira, past the turn-off to Bubion and Capileira and on to Mecina. The narrow winding road down to Mecina recently rewarded us with fluffy pink almond blossoms, and now those trees have all leafed out, but we were too early for the poppies.

We drove on to the tiny village of Ferreirola and parked the car there. This is the village where we stayed when we first came to the Alpujarras in 2008 and we return frequently for the short hike to the old mill at the Río Trevélez. Each time we walk to the river we discover plants that we hadn't seen before.  It was October when we first visited Ferreirola and the chestnut trees were full of burrs, bursting open and ready to drop. We have walked there in winter when the landscape is barren, and now in Spring there are wildflowers, fruit and nut trees in blossom, and brilliant green young leaves unfurling on the trees. It is a place that fills us with joy.

Happy on my hike outside Ferreirola

Thursday we went into Órgiva to take care of some business. Traffic was backed up and it took three changes of the light to get us through town. It turns out that this weekend is the BIG religious festival for Órgiva; El Dia del Senor, the Day of the Lord. 

On Thursday the statue of Al Señor de la Expiración, Our Lord of the Expiration, is taken down from the wall behind the alter in the church while out on the street there are thousands of fireworks exploding. We arrived just in time to hear the fireworks and afterwards I went into the church where many people were waiting for their turn to kiss the statue (crucifix) of Jesus. Apparently the crucifix was carved in 1599 and this festival has been going on for over 400 years.

Inside the church in Órgiva with Al Señor de la Expiración

On Friday of El Dia del Senor, the statue is taken out of the church at 6:00 pm and paraded around the town throughout the night. We missed that, but we were able to hear the on-going fireworks echoing up the valley.

Yesterday we picked up Bea (a local woman who has helped us with translation) and we drove to Motril where we had an appointment at the Comisaría de Policía Nacional, National Police Station, for our residency application. This process can be cumbersome, but we were well informed about all that we needed to take with us. Our folder was full with multiple copies of our passports, both Italian and USA, the paperwork from Pampaneira showing that we have registered at the town hall there, our NIE documents (like a Social Security Number), our proof of private health insurance, and our bank statements demonstrating that we have the required income of 550 euros each per month, and passport-style photos. 

The room was packed but our wait was very short. We were greeted by Peter Garcia and he scanned the paperwork and seemed satisfied that all was in order. But he was puzzled about why we would leave the USA to live in the tiny mountain village of Pampaneira. I said, "One word: Trump," and he said, "Ah, sí!" 

Soon we were off to the bank to pay the fee (for some reason they do not take money at the police station so a trip to the bank is always part of these procedures.) We enjoyed the walk into town and were fortunate to be first in line at the bank.  A quick stop at the Fotocopy store to make even more copies off all the documents and then back to the police station. In less than 90 minutes we accomplished the entire task of attaining legal residency status.  We now have cards that are good for 5 years and when we renew them, it will be good forever! 

Bea and Sam on our walk to the bank in Motril

Afterwards we took Bea for a celebratory lunch at a seaside restaurant where we enjoyed fresh sardines, lightly breaded and grilled to perfection.

Seaside lunch spot

Today we were up early and Sam was off before 8:00 for week #3 of the acequia cleaning effort (see last week's blog). 

A beautiful start to the day

He took his shovel and rubber boots because with the warm weather, the water is flowing and boots are necessary for the hours of working with snow-melt flowing over your feet. 

After a few household chores, I settled at the outdoor table with a mug of hot chocolate and a book. The birdsong was the only sound I could hear and the sun took the chill from the morning air. 

Settling into a peaceful day

Before the mug was empty I had a text from Sam telling me that he had fallen and hurt his shoulder and could I please drive up the mountain to pick him up. I knew he would need to ice his shoulder immediately so I threw some frozen peas into the insulated shopping bag and took off up the track to find him. I parked as close as I could and then started to walk towards where I knew he would have been working. I walked for several kilometers before finally meeting Sam who was making his way back out along the acequia with his backpack and shovel. 

Walking in the clean acequia on my way to find Sam

I traded one of my hiking poles for his shovel and we continued back towards the car. At one point there is a steep downhill and Sam lost his footing, falling again onto the injured shoulder and his wrist. It was painful to witness and I knew how discouraged he felt. Apparently he had dislocated the shoulder with his first fall but popped it back into place on his own and then tried to continue working before admitting that he really needed to take the day off. 

Finally we made it to the car and back down the mountain to home. A kind neighbor shared a "miracle ointment" and we strapped a variety of frozen vegetable bags onto his shoulder throughout the afternoon. A few ibuprofin and hopefully he will get some rest tonight.

We ended the day out on our rocks - just beyond the fence line, and right at the edge of our property. The view up the valley to Mulhacén and down to Pampaneira is stunning. 

Relaxing on our rocks

I shared a photo on Facebook and someone commented that I am living her dream. I realized that those are the exact words I used to tell friends who had moved to Spain or Italy and it hit me that actually I am living my dream


  1. Sorry to hear about Sam's accident, wishing him a prompt recovery....;Thank you Laura for your narrative whyich makes me feel like being there (wishful thinking...) Keep writing, I follow your "dream"..

    1. Thanks Carlo. Sam will bounce back. Hugs to you and Shirley.

  2. While I miss our chats about travel and living abroad, I'm so delighted, Laura, that you and Sam are able to do this and live in such a beautiful place (miss work yet? ha, I thought not!). We're not living abroad, but definitely enjoying our retirement, doing some local travel, watching the flowers emerge after this horrid winter, reading, hanging with friends and enjoying life. Being members of ICL has been a fantastic addition to our retirement years (I was just in a play with some of the members - what fun!). Hope we can get over there someday to visit you guys, but in the meantime we love hearing all about it! Colleen & Dom

    1. Thanks so much for your comment and for following the blog. We feel very fortunate to be here and would welcome you anytime. We'll be in Salem in July and it would be fun to see you ❤️