Australia to Madrid to Malaga hinterland

Leaving Melbourne Australia

To the couple in the line who informed me in best of British: ‘the bark of de quu is ofa dere’ nah. An additional staff member meant a new line with me in front. And, I was checked through 30msec before them. A whole 30msec. Maybe 31. I know, I’m embarrassed that I’ve agitated for less but this was truly sadder than my usual impatience… 

See what travel does for the mind? Did you say ‘sharpens our ability to pick lines’. Right answer but I’ve a lot to learn. (And not that we compete. No. Not half. ) Moving on..

Just 1.36 hours to Dubai. The last hour always passes slowly. The cabin has been fed and watered. Everyone awake with the brightening cabin lights and the clunks of others’ cutlery on crockery. For me, I’d rather eat in the lounge in Dubai. Hmmmm.

And then the noises stopped, cabin lights were off again and it was 56 min to arrival. 

Madrid to Malaga

Waiting in Madrid airport for the plane to Malaga. It was on time but I was off my face. Thirty or so hours of flying and waiting again for the next flight can do that. I probably looked sane but I wasn’t. My mind was all over the place. Sort of whirling around in its own little orbit. Couldn’t even read a soft autobiography I have on a very interesting beneficiary of the kindertransport from Austria to the UK. 

I put some €€ on both phone cards. I queried the balance and the woman serving spoke so rapidly, more so than previously, I had no idea what she said. None. Wasn’t a good time to ask her again either as repeating it would not have helped me.  

First impressions of Bambú

Arrived at the Malaga airport eventually and in daylight. Very impressed that the co-owner Catherine, who picked me up, suggested stopping at a supermarket on the way as it’s a short walk to the nearest village so everything has to be carried in as the places are self catering. I chose not to hire a car as it means I won’t walk if I do. Besides, I wasn’t in a fit state to drive through a city I didn’t know, on the wrong side of the road. Plus I’d thought it might be dark before I arrived at Bambú. 

So, what’s Bambú like? Besides saying my room seemed ok it was too dark and my aforementioned state not optimal so that I really didn’t know. Said hullo to two others staying here but asked Catherine to say I’d not be accepting their invite to have a drink. 

Next day

07:21 and it was still dark outside. I passed out again.

When I next surfaced the sun was up, warm, birds were tweeting and the 3 cats (outside) were demanding company.  And the view from outside my room was spectacular. Rows of avocado and mango trees in particular. 

Met my 2 neighbours as they were about to start packing to leave. Pity as they were nice. I’m the only resident tonight but others are coming over the next few days. 

Day 1 walk to Benamocarra 

First, get my bearings. Catherine had showed me the highlights of the closest town, Benamocarra, on the way to Bambú and I needed to explore it first as it has the closest coffee and shops. 

To get there you walk down a hill, cross a dry river bed, climb a hill and end up in a small plaza. 

Seats on some edges of the plaza are filled by…? Yes, old men. Like so many towns and cities in Spain old men seem to spend their days sitting centrally and gossiping among themselves. Sometimes there is a younger guy with them. Never a woman.

Not a very prepossessing town Benamocarra. Yes, white Andalusian buildings but many are newer and not unobtrusive. What was interesting was the plaque that stated, almost like a form of local propaganda, that the area was populated by three groups that had long lived happily together. Obviously the Arabs/Moores were displaced when the Christian royals won Spain back for their side. And obviously there must have been a subsequent uprising by those not liking whatever nasties the victorious Christians had done to the ‘others’. But, interesting it needed to be stated that the groups here always got on and didn’t rise up against the others.

Afterwards I wandered along a few roads and then back up the same dry river bed and back to Bambú. No, I wasn’t lost!!

Day 2: Rio Almáchar to the town of Almáchar

Since the rivers around here are dry and some roads a bit of a challenge for spanish drivers to avoid walkers while looking at them and talking on the phone, rivers will be my highways. Hmm, forget the rolling cloud bank. Looks like rain but my app swears 0% chance of it. Fingers crossed It doesn’t. Or, I’ll need to change my app, to look for a better one!

So, turn right, down the hill past all the mango and avocado trees to the Almáchar River. And then I met the dog. 

Big, aggro, threatening. Barked at me very fiercely. So I shouted at it to ‘go’. He wasn’t convinced. I tried in Spanish, ‘va’. He moved a bit further away and I tried the more personal ‘vas’ in case that’s how you talk to a dog in Spanish. Wishing of course I knew ‘piss off’. He was still not convinced. 

Next step, I picked up a stone. That moved him right along. I threw it. …. no, he was 100% safe from my throw! And he ran so I figure he was used to being yelled at and the stone throwers here have intent and are accurate. I carried another stone until I was sure he had gone. Score: human 1, dog 0. Unless you deduct a bit from my score as, for the first time here, I wasn’t sure I would win. Big dog and aggro. Me, not the dog 😁.

Walked along the dry river bed for probably 7km. 

The poppies in parts along the edges are spectacular. 

Not totally dry but the water seemed to be from agricultural overflow and maybe something to do with local waste water disposal. Easy to cross each time it meandered over the vehicle tracks. 

Easy walking generally. Round a very twisty path at times between quite high hills on both sides.

Houses are often located down close to the river, suggesting it never has had much flow through it. I believe here has had its fourth dry winter and the reservoir(s) is only 40% full. Potentially a very big problem for such a densely populated and touristed area. 

Eventually saw my destination, high up on the hill above me, many river bends later. First a steep hill off to the left, up to the top of Almáchar.

Sensible people ride a horse up this quite steep hill. He was on one with another behind him. 

Wow! Cliched Andalusian town, white houses spilling down both sides of a hill it lies on into a valley. 

Most streets are steep, many too narrow for even small cars. Stairs connect some levels and steep little streets others. Interestingly Almachar also had a plaque outlining the history of the people who’d lived there from the earliest Arabs/Moores who’d practiced viticulture and animal husbandry and who had also all got on together and lived happily ever after.

Clearly time to buy some bread to supplement the cheese I’d brought for lunch. Asked a woman I’d heard speak english as her son was at school there so she’d surely know where the bakery was. Hmmm. Ended up peering through the open door of an old man’s front room. How was I know the equally unmarked doorway over the street was the bread shop! As usual, closed door and no signage at all. 

At least one exception: the best looking butcher shop I’ve seen for a long time. 

Beautiful town. Clean, consistent style of architecture. Definitely worth the walk.


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