Following our arrival from London, Andrea and I did 4 days of touring from our base in a little white pueblo house in La Herradura, Spain. After some jolts at the airport… I have lost my license so the car rental was a bit dicey; and our landlord’s instructions for leaving the airport to catch the divided highway A7 to Herradura were vague… we arrived in town starved, but thankfully just in time to catch a 10:30 pm dinner at the local tavern across the square from our ‘home’.
Home is the second door on the right
I continue to find the Mediterranean cuisine so very tasty. We started with wine and tapas: a lovely fried filleted white fish, followed by tiny clams in a garlic and herb butter… then our dinner which was topped off by a light creamy cake, and a sweet chocolate liquor. The only thing we paid for was our simple but oh-so-flavorful main course: soup of the day (chicken and egg) for Paula, and beans with Serrano ham for Andrea. Tipping is not expected… perhaps topping up the ‘la quenta’ to even it off (10% at most!). There is so much given graciously for your pleasure. The Andalusian people are known to be casual and frivolous: “None of the grasping, moroseness that one would find among the Argonese and Catalans of the North,” so it is said.
Delicious garlicky mini clams
The next day we found a good coffee shop on the beachfront street; then a bakery for bread and pastries, and a market for other odds and ends, both within one block of the beach street. Everything so near! We are three blocks back from the beach.
Looking west down the beach
(Actually, Andrea had sussed out all of this prior to my rising… rather late.)
After our domestics, we took off to the bay town of Nerja to the west of us for a meander through the town; lunch on the promenade over looking the beach; and a walk down a poinsettia bordered stairwell for a walk on the beach.
Down the stairs to the beach
Looking back from the other end of the bay
On returning to our little town we discovered it was in the midst of a classical guitar competition and we were able to catch one of the last evenings. Unfortunately, we faded two thirds of the way through the performance and had to go home (two blocks away). But! What a way to enter into the Spanish culture!
The second day we left early for a 2 hour meandering drive through the hills and into the Sierra de las Nieves, to Ronda (mid way between Seville and Granada, just north of Malaga), a medieval hill town which straddles a grand river canyon about 400m in depth. As the name suggest… ‘rounda’… it has a bull ring at its center, seemingly more important then its cathedral. Such a historical town: still vestiges of ’Rome’ with the odd wall sticking up through a medieval cum renaissance building; parts of a wall which circled the medieval town; the still present Moorish architectural decor; and all the historical markers etching the history through the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a totally overwhelming experience, even though it is a small town. We both took way too many pictures. How to capture this canyon; this history; the magnificent, instinctive vigor of bull fighting!
The "New" bridge (finished in 1793)
The old city walls
The bull ring (1784)
On the third day we were into Malaga to see the Picasso Museum. (Picasso grew up in Malaga and started painting there at age 19.) The museum has 155 Picasso’s donated by the artist’s daughter-in-law and grandson… a good overview of his artistic development.
Currently, the collection is contrasted with a retrospective of Alberto Giacometti’s work… an artist Andrea has always admired and so found great pleasure in being able to see originals. My pleasure was, as always, to see Picasso. Such strong lines! My favorite artist, I think.
Malaga is an ancient port town and the modern port is still busy with cranes loading freighters; and cruise ships at anchor. Its history is revealed where they have housed the Picasso museum, also a site of Phoenician, Roman and Moorish remains. Dominating the town is the 17th C castle on the hill right in the middle, which one circles endlessly when trying to find addresses and parking! (Not a town based on the grid system.) It is the largest town in the area so highly developed with office buildings, shopping malls, and apartment complexes more obvious than pleasant. Still, some elegance remains with its 19th century, very beautifully treed boulevard for its main thoroughfare through town; and the Moorish styled ironwork decorating the older buildings.
Exploring the old city center of Malaga
Yesterday we lingered in ‘our’ coffee shop (which happens to have wifi) as Andrea helped ‘clean up’ my laptop; downloaded some new applications for my i-phone e.g., a translation program which helps me along with my Spanish; and I transferred all my India Journals to her, for posting on the blog. Then it was back to Malaga to turn in the car. (I have decided I don’t need a car. I can simply walk about town for all my needs, and take a bus if I decide to tour.)
We arrived early so Andrea could help me find a SIM card; find me transport back to Herradura; and to take time for a good lunch prior to departure. By 5:30p I was on my way back to Herradura by bus; and Andrea was off back to the airport for her late evening flight to London, on her way home to Alabama the following day.
OH! So hard to see her leave: “Good-byes” create such a dislocation. The emotional separation; the change in personal space; the reference to the day; the sharing of the little problems of a day; the searching out of restaurants; and probably many more aspects of living I am not taking the time to delve into enough to name. It was a very empty home upon my return.
My living room
By the way, home is in an old fishing village. Though the village site is as ancient as the Bronze Age, the old section of the current village was built early in the 20th C. There are photos of the ‘old village’ displayed by a white painted adobe water trough on a terrace by the banks of the river… the water trough is the town's monument to its past. I cross this terrace when taking the steps down from the bus stop into ‘the old town’, and ‘home’. The photos are labeled ‘1922’ and it is easy to recognize the main drive into town, which borders the river and the cluster of village homes just steps from the river… where I have rented the ground floor of an old ‘Moorish’ styled home with its wrought iron window grills and balcony railings, and an inner patio.
Looking down my street towards the bay
November 29th: Now, to the slower rhythm of my day to day; and the beginning of what I can tell will be days ‘on the beach’. Walking the bay from one end to the other is, at least, a two-hour endeavor. I usually walk about half the bay. There are treasures for me as I walk… not shells or rocks, but scraps of terra cotta tile with the remnants of a colored glaze; the edges of each fragment are rubbed smooth from the wave action of the Mediterranean. I am collecting Mediterranean housing debris! and am childishly tickled. My first findings were in Dubrovnik.
Fragments of tile
I leap upon them like diamonds! Fragments of a Mediterranean life: Yes, I am still charmed by the Mediterranean.
Right now the Sea is brisk. Thank goodness for my experience of swimming in the Quadra lakes. (Think of the Quadra lakes at the end of May, and the first warm days when swimming is just! possible.) I sit at the water’s edge, letting my body acclimatize as the water drenches me up to the waist and I swish my arms in the swelling waters lapping the shore. Gradually, the body starts to want more and I drift into the deeper water. It always seems such a luxury to be able to swim… well, bob around. The sun is just strong enough to warm me when I climb up the steep slippery bank of small pebbles onto the beach shelf of larger pebbles. Some days there is even a tinge of real heat. So far I have had one day when the sun brought out a sweat as I sat soaking up as much warmth as possible, before heading into the water.
Looking towards the east end of La Herradura Bay, where I have found a swimming spot