Milling About

Trevélez from the dirt track

Today’s wanderings were more hiking than walking: “más senderismo que caminar”, you might say. In the apartment is a pamphlet showing a map of the town of Trevélez. It is not to scale, it might even be accused of being topographical. A path is shown leading out of the town, sort of eastward, to one Molino Altero – which might or might not mean Pile Mill as in piles of money. Off I set, believing, as all ex-airmen ought, in the map.

The way started as a fairly wide concreted camino rural sin numèro (Un-numbered country road, there are lots of those in Spain).  The sign-post warned of the Junta de Andalucia’s contribution to its upkeep, so I wasn’t expecting much. A sign placed by the local council suggested a speed limit of 30 Kph and was recommending the route to cows or warning of their presence: one of the two.

After about a kilometre it became a dirt track, which remained fairly wide  Whilst it remained so wide I passed a few horses and fields and fields of market gardening. As the track narrowed, the trees closed in. Races burbled down the hill, but still no sign of a Molino, of Piles or otherwise. One could imagine a trail of breadcrumbs or the flash of a red hood between the green trees.

One of the many streams

So beautiful, so peaceful, with the sound of the bells around the goats’ necks counterpointing the water rushing down the hillside. Eventually I saw a signpost, which indicated that I was travelling in the right direction. A source of some amazement, I confess. At this point the track become a narrow, rocky path, like something the smugglers in Moonfleet might have used. Often the streams and rills crossed the path making the rocks slippery or indeed covering them completely. I kept going until I had travelled about four kilometres. The track became wetter and wetter and ever more narrow. It did not peter out, but the woodland became more dense. I turned back. On the way back, I came across one contender for the title Molino Altero, it didn’t look close enough to the river or one of the many streams. No, it didn’t have sails, either.

Molino Altero??

I made my way back to the signpost, and followed the arrows in reverse. This was not the way I had come. There were some tremendous views over ths true valley and the lower quarter of town. Being afraid of heights and prone to feeling dizzy I felt quite brave taking the photos, it’s true. On this winding narrow path tacking round the contours I met the only other person out walking. A bandy-legged fellow of about 60, accompanied by 3 short-legged and vociferous dogs. He had an old flip-top motorola glued to his ear, but apart from that he could have been a goat-herd on his way down to have Franco’s greatest innovation for his lunch: Menú de Dia.

Eventually I made it back to civilisation. I hadn’t reached my goal, but so what? It was a beautiful walk on a beautiful day. It doesn’t come much better than that.

Civilisation

Nearer the Sky than the Sea

 

View from the Top of  Barrio Alto

Trevélez, a beautiful town, perched in the folds of Mulhacen’s skirts some 1500 metres above sea level, is only the second highest municipality in Spain. It is the place to buy the best Iberian hams in the whole of Spain  – as any Andalucian will tell you. Of course “Everyone has the best wife at home” as somebody or other once said. Every day at this time of year luxury coaches take the winding route through Las Alpujarras before disgorging hundreds of tourists into the square in Barrio Bajo (Low Quarter).

The town consists of 3 zones, although it tickles me to use the other dictionary definition: quarter. It isn’t quite a town, you see, it’s only three quarters of a town. It is not what the Andalucians would consider a village, certainly. Another cultural difference between we Northern Europeans and our Latino hosts. Anyway, there is The Low Quarter, The Middle Quarter and the High Quarter. There is a walking route which winds from the bottom of the town to the top: “La Ruta de los Tres Barrios“, unsurprisingly enough. The dog is too old to manage this route as, certainly on the way up, it’s too steep for his old legs and weary heart, so I try to do the walk every other day. It’s not the same as walking the 7 hours to the top of Mulhacen, but every little helps to fight the middle age spread.

For the third year in a row, the town where we are staying has bizarre mannikins placed in the street. These are slightly more realistic (and sinister) than the wicker men and women of previous years.

Emil and Some Friends of a Similar Age
Fresh Eggs for Breakfast Here.

Winding through the back streets is an education, there are many surprises behind some rustic looking doors on the sides of the houses in these narrow barrio streets. The higher you go, the stranger things you see. I’ll spare you the occupied outside loo with the open door onto the street, but these chickens have a room in a house…

Generally I take the main roads (some licence also taken with the term here) down and stop off for a coffee, where I eavesdrop on the conversation between whomsoever happens to be in the bar. This morning the owner was complaining to the woman serving behind the bar that someone hadn’t greeted him while they were at the funeral that took place yesterday. This tirade segued seamlessly into complaints that some people from Catalonia had been in the village yesterday, claiming that their ham was better than that of Trevélez. Clearly preposterous, from what I overheard. The owner was turning puce. The woman behind the bar offered the owner decaff for his next coffee. Perhaps I shouldn’t have laughed.