Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Alpujarra Adventure

I think I have become more of an outdoorsy person than I was before moving to Sevilla. I have always enjoyed a numerous amount of outdoor activities, but I'm talking outdoorsy, like escape to a mountain town, spend hours without a soul in sight (unless you believe animals have souls because there were plenty of those), not showering for days, woodsy kind of "outdoorsy." I crave the outdoors like I never have before and only there do I feel free, at peace, and refreshed.

That's what last weekend was. I took a bus to Granada (a beautiful city with a
Moroccan/Berkeley feel to it that I will describe more another time) and hitched another bus a few hours later to La Alpujarra. This is a region in the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains with tiny pueblos blancos nestled up into the hillside, home to many an ex-pat of the fruit and nut or British mutton eating varieties. Unbeknownst to me, I had booked a hostel for the night in the farthest town possible, which meant a three and a half hour windy bus ride through all the villages. I am so glad for this hasty travel blunder because it meant that I got a 6euro tour through the quaint and pristine countryside.

Arriving in Trevelez much later than I expected, I hiked (seriously, it was a 20 minute straight up hike) to my hostel in Barrio Medio and pounded on the caretakers' door just as twilight faded over the hills. I was greeted by a boisterous bickering British couple, who ushered me in, lit my heater, showed me every function and every nook and cranny of my little apartment, teasing each other mercilessly in the process, and thoroughly entertaining me. I was sad to let them go.

After getting settled in I went up the hill to Barrio Alto to have a look at the whole town and then popped in to a bar where I sat and had a beer and free tapas (courtesy of this region of Andalusia that has yet to commercialize the tradition) and then up to the restaurant for a lovely meal. I was surrounded on all sides with middle-aged British couples and realized in the process just how strange it feels to hear English as the common language in a public place.

The next day I woke up early, packed a bag with fruit and nuts (I'm not the mutton eating kind...;) and head up into the hills. I could see snow at the top of the mountain above me and decided I was going to touch it, which is actually quite silly because it was way further than it appeared as I found out as I reached the first crest. My disappointment quickly dissipated as I came face to face with a handful of wild horses...or what I thought were wild until the next surprise visitors appeared. Well, actually, I heard them before I saw them. Clink clink, clink clink. A curious sheep stuck it's head up and stared me down, the big bell around it's neck silencing for those brief moments of examination. The sheep quickly became disinterested in me and went back to its grazing. I walked amongst them for some time and sat on a rock outcropping for a while taking in the expansive valley, still hazy with morning light and dew.
I could hear church bells from down in Trevelez and realized it was Sunday. Since moving to Spain I have often missed worshiping in church as I did at home, but today, I decided to do it, with no one but God and the animals listening. The wind stole my voice and pressed at my body as I stood on the precipice looking out over "all the mountains and the valleys of the earth." I couldn't imagine a better service. I finished up with a scary yoga-balancing act and continued on my way.

As I walked back down the mountain I began to follow the canals of water that the town had created to direct the run-off from the mountain snow. It led me all the way back to where I started at a community fountain, with crisp, refreshing, mountain spring water. One of the cool things about the town was that everywhere you walked in the streets you could hear the sound of running water under you. It was so awesome to see a natural life-sustaining process.

I left Trevelez completely refreshed, in more ways than one. And, an added benefit...I gained a new smell! The funny thing is, I don't know what it is. All I can describe it as is "mountainy" because I can't place it might be a tree, or an herb, but whatever it is, it's nature and I was so happy to smell it! :)


Jon said...

Wow... is all I have to say. Just wait you will be a hippy yet! It is absolutely those kinds of adventures that I cherish and remember most in my travels. New idea for you... when you go to a new place add a picture of a google map showing where it is in relation to Sevilla! I have trouble keeping track. Or maybe a map of all the places you have been with updates every time.
Love you Ness!

Katie Miller said...

Vanessa, I just picture you on our couch in the dark...and to think that you are out in the hills of Spain...

Deyl said...

i loved seeing that old familiar hat you used to wear here on your head, doing a yoga pose half way around the world :)