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.

No comments:

Post a Comment