This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.
Lynn and I were ensconced in the back of the Mercedes, well supplied with bottled water and potato chips in case the car broke down in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Our destination: the “white vilalges” Pampaniera and Capilera on the other side of the Sierra Nevada from Granada.
We took two-lane roads through the mountains, winding around hairpin curves. If you were prone to motion sickness, you would definitely want to take a Dramamine for this ride.
Lynn and I chatted with each other and I asked Juan questions now and then. This was the area where Spain’s bottled water came from, he said, which made sense since it was mountains. He was from a town we would pass through, Bubion, population 300. His family still lived there. We stopped for a shepherd with a flock of goats crossing the road. That answered my question about what people did for a living here. They kept goats and sheep and bees, but they mostly depended on tourism.
After a couple hours, Juan asked which village we wanted to stop in first. I don’t remember which one it was because they looked the same: tiny, white-washed towns of a couple dozen buildings clustered around a bend in the road.
“How much time do you want here?” he asked. Ummm…we didn’t know, never having been “here” before, but we thought an hour would be enough.
Juan hung out with some friends while Lynn and I wandered around. Now remember, it was the off season. We appeared to be the only tourists, and a lot of businesses were shut, the owners probably off to Florida for the season.
Two shops were open. They featured the local craft specialty—thick, heavy, woven rugs that you would pay 10€ to buy and 100€ to get home. There was also much unremarkable pottery and fashionable women’s clothing made in China. It was one of those places where you feel like you should buy something to support the local economy, but I couldn’t muster enough interest to pick anything out. I think Lynn bought a pottery bowl.
We walked up the road to get a view of the mountains—which were spectacular—and found a B&B that served coffee. We sat in the garden and drank coffee; not a bad way to kill a morning.
After an hour we ambled down the hill, found Juan, and proceeded to the next village, which looked exactly like the first. I probably sound like I’m complaining but I’m not, they were lovely and picturesque but they did look the same and I knew a limited number of Spanish superlatives so I didn’t know what I would tell Juan about this one when we reconnoitered.
We stepped into a tiny empty church and a man followed our every move. “There’s a 2€ admission!” he informed us. We paid it and beat it out of there.
It was nearly 2pm so there was a restaurant open for lunch. We climbed to the roof top patio and the waitress was clearly not happy to have customers. The menu was limited to combinations of ham, eggs, and bacon. I ordered “potatoes with bacon” sans bacon, Lynn ordered ham and eggs, and we both got a beer. When the food arrived a half hour later, my potatoes were heaped with bacon—sarcastic bacon?—and Lynn’s plate had a pile of ham topped with a raw egg.
I gave Lynn my bacon and she fed it to a cat that was slinking nearby. The waitress, forced to emerge from the interior by the arrival of more tourists, glared at us.
“I have a theory,” Lynn said, “that the Jews were expelled from Spain because they didn’t consume enough pork products.” There was much laughter, which the waitress appeared to take as a personal affront.
Within a minute we were surrounded by a dozen cats who consumed all the bacon, raw-egg saturated ham, and the dry white bread in our bread basket.
Beer and potatoes in the sun made for lovely naps as we were driven back to the Alhambra Palace for our last night there.