Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hitch hiking and various other pastimes #16

..My relationship with my hosts had gotten stronger as you would expect, and I felt quite at home with their company although I may not have agreed with everything they believe in, we can find common ground. One thing I had been enjoying immensely was the food, Inge seemed to spend the majority of her time around the kitchen, possibly due to her bad back, and conjures up some magnificent dishes, all with home grown or local organic produce; rabbit stews, chicken soups, spelt wheat loaves and various other items have been laid before me on the table in huge quantities, with 3rd servings being commonplace.

Amongst some of my regular tasks, which included opening and feeding the chickens and geese, moving the sheep and their pen and feeding the rabbits, during the first week I replanted some suffering onions and helped install a drip-irrigation system, collected firewood higher up the mountain, with the Junta's (council) strimming and cutting of the roadside aiding us, planted and irrigated three rows of potatoes, Alpujarran style, with the water cascading or trickling down through small channels, using stones to change its path when necessary.

I also cleared a patch of notoriously tough Spanish brambles, cleaned the swimming pool, which was a very tedious and tiring task, and planted various sunflowers here, there and everywhere. Both the physical aspect and the psychological aspect combined to be a draining experience, with the supremely bright moon coming out when my thoughts wandered to existential matters; globalisation, homesickness and how to light the stove without any matches.

The first week provided a good introduction to life at Semilla Besada, and it continued much the same, only with me having spend the majority of the next week with Bruno, the quiet, rough, knowledgeable Belgian who had spent the past 20 years there in Andalucia, since arriving at the tender age of 16 with no money and no Spanish. He was a builder by trade but seemed to be adept in many areas, be it killing animals, drinking copious amounts or other common Alpujarran pastimes. Bastian had told me brief snippets of his life outside of his temporary building work at La Chaparra and he seemed to have personal complications but he is a pleasure to work with, I have never seen anyone with such a passion for cement and spirit levels.

We had also been on two stone collecting missions further up the mountain, for building the steps and to be used as the drainage system around the bunker/larder we were building. At the natural mine, there were some lovely stones, huge chunks of marble, small rose quartz pebbles and perfectly flat stones stones, which Bruno exclaimed were perfect for building. The second time we were there, 3 golden eagles, presumably 1 female and 2 young, glided overhead, curious as to what we were doing on their part of the mountain. They flew swiftly over us and into the mist that shrouded the Rio Lanjaron barranco.

My first weekend off was a welcome break and to lie in till 9 seemed like heaven, something else that I didn't want to take for granted upon my return to England, along with a raised appreciation of wine, good food and sustainability. What occurred to me whilst wandering through the foothills, with my worn down adidas' aiding my Spanish adventure again and getting consequently filled with bits of the various prickly bushes that are so abundant on the Alpujarran slopes, is that Christopher McCandless' notion that 'happiness is only really when shared' applied to my scenario perfectly at points in my trip. Naturally, I wasn't as isolated as McCandless, not even nearly so, but compared to my home life, still a gigantic turnaround. Instead of walking through woods that I know like the back of my hand with my girlfriend or my friends, I found myself traversing steep valleys by myself, with a stick in my hand in care I should have another encounter with a hostile canine, and stopping once in a while for some water and to take in the ever-changing views.

It is these views of the tiny white-washed splashes on the surprisingly green gradients of the Sierra de Lujar and the Sierra de la Contraviesa that make me yearn for companionship. A view shared is a view to be enjoyed, to remember together, to be silent in astonishment or to loudly express ones joy at such imposing chunks of earth.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Hitch hiking and various other pastimes #15

(Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I will get back on track with them)

..Then we ate, a feast of spaghetti and sauce, more than enough for 4 people, which we washed down with some celebratory glasses of wine. I told them bits and bobs about myself over the food and was I would be cracking almonds that afternoon, as a gentle introduction to work on this conspiracy-theory fuelled, remote sustainable dwelling.

After said almonds were cracked, I was shown around the main lower garden, a maze of fenced-off vegetable patches, olive terraces and various animal pens, including the geese and chicken runs, the large rabbit cage, containing 20 or more black and white (edible) fluffballs, and the 2 sheep in their enclosure at the bottom of the garden. All these were joined together with little paths leading here and there, with the platform that David (the man who lived here previously and the one whom we lived with) had done some form of martial arts/meditation on, at the heart of the garden, surrounded by fruit trees and pleasant smelling bushes.

My hosts seemed nice enough, the semi-typical alternative type that this part of Spain seems to attract in abundance, possibly due, in part, to Chris Stewart's 'Driving over Lemons'. Over the next few days, I was to learn that my reading on conspiracy theories and occultism was nothing compared to what they believed and practised for the most part. Personally, I like to keep an air of skeptisism about such matter and, although it is clear to me that the world is becoming something uninhabitable due to various powers in place, I find it hard to believe in fables such as the lost city of Atlantic or the pyramids being constructed by 'aliens', although it certainly makes for interesting and dynamic conversation. On a more down to earth note, before our evening meal of cheeses, hams and bread, I fed the rabbits with a mixture of plants and weeds collected from around the garden, doing 2 jobs in one.

I had been at Semilla Besada almost two weeks and it had gone incredibly fast, it seemed like only a day or two ago since I was in Granada with John. I'd settled in reasonably well and had definitely been putting my hours in; Monday to Friday, working from 9ish til 2 then working 3ish til 7-8. However I had been sleeping well in the caravan that I called home. I lit the stove every night then read till the heat had peaked in my box of delights, then I crawl into my sleeping bag, comfortable and warm, only to wake up shivering every morning. The temperature sure did drop at night and when the clouds descend.

For 3 days it rained quite significantly on and off and we even witnessed some snow; in April this must be a rare occurance, but to wake up and see the immense Sierra de Lujár iced with the snow, the radio antenna its cherry on top, or the frozen grass crystals around Paco's sprinkler made waking up in a fridge slightly more bearable.

The first week here on the mountain had been peculiar affair, settling in, getting into a semi-routine again after the sporadicity of hitch-hiking and being around people permanently as opposed to lots of solitary pondering en route. My spirits were admittedly undulating as the dats wore on, moments of bliss and peacefulness followed lonely cold nights, I believe a partial reason for this could be due to my desire keep on travelling, keep on moving, but I found myself static, having small urges to flee but also wanting to take my time, extend my budget as much as possible and absorb all there is. But I had only been there 11 days, I told myself, its to easy to see how people say 'the road is addictive', it may well be, but it is also severely exhausting, so in that way, a temporary home is welcome...

New reservoir, old cloud