Las Alpujarras Part Two

In my last blog I promised to continue the tale of my life in Las Alpujarras. The second house we lived in was in a village, Mairena, 1 kilometre from Júbar but although some of my new neighbours were related to our old ones life was different. We rented the last house in the village so the view was amazing, worth the steep climb up through the village. One downside was we were near a large goat pen which whilst a picturesque scene, especially with the baby goats, was pungent at times! I mentioned the San Marco fiesta previously, an important date for all the village, where the procession was led by the women of the village carrying an effigy of Christ. A local band followed the ladies and we all congregated at a special stone for the local priest to bless all the animals – horses, mules, goats, some of the children brought their hamsters! Everyone then followed the procession back to the main square in the village for traditional tasty stew baked slowly by the local women with simple ingredients, bread and local wine. Marvellous atmosphere, dancing, whole families joining together with friends and a very late finish.

Mairena has a shop, two bars, an excellent restaurant, Las Chimeneas, serving good local food with a twist and an olive press where everyone took their olives to be processed. Nothing tastes quite like the olive oil I bought there knowing my neighbours had grown the olives – real virgin olive oil. Whilst we had a good year time came to move on so we moved to Válor our last home in Las Alpujarras.

The cortijo we rented was very different to our other places, isolated but 1 kilometre outside the village, again with wonderful views.
Before we moved in the land had been neglected so Peter, my husband, set to and created a garden outside plus worked the land. We grew oranges, figs, nectarines, pomegranates and vegetables. The final January we picked our own olives and I bottled them in the traditional way, a recipe from a neighbour. There are so many memories that it is difficult to give a snapshot. The land sloped down to a stream (barranco) with olive trees and alamo trees, these attracted many different types of birds but the highlight of the year was when the golden oriels nested. Bright yellow but difficult to spot as they darted from tree to tree. Swallows came each spring, bee eaters flew overhead making their distinctive sound and most impressive, eagles majestically swooping down the valley. Wild flowers, wild asparagus, fennel, wild garlic were among the variety of plants dotted around the hillside. We occasionally saw Ibex, lizards, shared the house with geckos but were very wary of the occasional snake. Summers were hot but winter could be cold, thanks to our wood burning stove we kept cosy and warm. We had a veranda which served as extra living space during spring, hot summers and autumn. Breakfast outside looking at the mountains, little or no traffic noise with the scent of jasmine is tough to equal. Our visitors all relaxed as soon as they arrived and we had many riotous meals on the veranda.

IMG_20140506_203212Family visits in our two bedroomed house would have been a tight squeeze without the veranda! Válor had several bars but our favourite, La Azahara, was a central meeting point. I helped organise a book swop morning monthly which quickly became a weekly event, Paco the owner baked cakes to go with our coffee. The food was delicious too, excellent tapas sitting outside with friends is a perfect way to spend an evening. I must end now but hope once again I’ve given a brief view of a special period in my life. Perhaps one day one of you will be able to visit Las Alpujarras and have your own adventure.

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9 responses to “Las Alpujarras Part Two

  1. Traveling around on vacations you really never get a full feel for the area like living there for a while. I wish Jack and I had done this but we always had too much at home to leave for more than a month at a time.

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve loved reading about your time in Las Alpujarras.

  2. Really lovely blog, Jane. I’m so glad you got to experience life in Spain and it’s great to hear all about it via your blogs. I can just smell that jasmine while you breakfasted on the veranda, and taste the extra virgin olive oil. How fab!

  3. Thank you both, especially for support when posting! It was an amazing time of my life. As we’ve all said time moves on, things change so enjoy life as best you can.

  4. Las Alpujarras sounds so lovely, Jane. Especially tinted by the wonderful memories you are sharing with us. I’ve got to send the link for this blog to my birder friend who’s always looking for new places to go birding. 🙂

  5. It is a paradise for bird watchers especially from May to September. I’m pleased you enjoyed a small glimpse into life there. I didn’t cover Granada which is a wonderful city – maybe some other time!

  6. Valerie J. Patterson

    The photos are quite lovely, and I envy all the you grew…especially the pomegranates! I would love a tree in my yard, but the winters are too harsh. I’ll bet the olive oil was exceptional, too. You are fortunate to have traveled and lived in such lovely places.

  7. love the pics and that your husband set out to make a garden. I’ve never met a piece of fruit I didn’t like so this sounds like a blissful place. What a neat adventure! Jillian

  8. Fantastic blog, and how wonderful to experience living in such a place. Enjoyed seeing the photos and just love that cortijo. My brother in Spain is always raving about the birdlife in that area, so I am indeed double envious. Am all ears to hear more about your life out there should you want to tell us. 🙂

  9. Thanks all of you for your positive comments. It was a wonderful experience which will stay with us forever. Kit you know the area maybe you can visit next time you see your brother. As you all know nothing beats picking things from your own trees, so fresh. Not possible now but we manage!!

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