El Geco Verde is situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on the edge of the National Park. A few tarmac roads bend through the trees and countryside linking up small towns but the main access to the farms and isolated hamlets is on a wool-tangled ball of dusty, gravel tracks. These pitted ruts dissect the landscape of olive and almond trees, providing access for a variety of tractor-pulled technology, ancient and modern, that weed, rake, cut and clear around the darkened, twisting trunks.
Olives and almond production dominate the local economy. Several river valleys have been commandeered to aid the local farms in the endless search for moisture. Dams have been constructed to hold back large bodies of water that, when the time is right, is released into an intricate irrigation system that flows throughout the fields.
These also double up as recreational opportunities. Companies now offer to visitors and locals an extensive menu of activities including paddle boarding & kayaking. Off-road Segway is an exciting way to explore the trails and the canyons of the national park.
Hiking the trails of the national park can be challenging but it’s rewarded with the senses zinging.
The Banos de Zujar, at the mouth of the almost-dried up river where it meanders into the lake, is a crack in the earth’s crust, allowing a thermal pool to emerge. This has a constant temperature of 38°, lovely and warm compared to the snow-resourced waters of all the other streams and lakes and reservoirs, and is bottomed with deliciously gooey, and supposedly skin-healthy, mud.
Yayyy. My first trip through an airport, onto a plane and out the other side for so long. How I’ve missed that anticipation of different cultures, sounds, smells, sights. So good to feel warm sunshine on the face, to see locals at tables watching or waiting as the world catches up again, to be immersed in other languages and habits and lifestyles. I am jumping in. The water is warm.
This trip is to southern Spain through Malaga meeting up with some of the family. It’s a drive up into the Sierra Nevada. North of Granada the route changes from peaceful motorway to empty local roads and then a lonely track into the dry, rocky landscape of the foothills. In the distance the high ridges are snow laden, providing a freezing frame to the farms and villages that await the heat of summer.
El Geco Verde sits on a hump of land overseeing a vast landscape of bountiful olive and almond trees. A peaceful place where the blanket of silence and bird song makes more noise than any rush hour traffic from life back home. The shouting hustle of life quickly disappears and old priorities re-establish themselves.
It is Easter Sunday. Having introduced the British custom of egg rolling to Andalusia it is out and about. Passing the dam, stopping to appreciate its curves edges, we follow its cooling gushing through the dusty landscape.
In Castril, the local town, the procession has finished. The locals settle to a long afternoon in the bars and restaurants. Groups of all ages settle around long tables pushed out through the narrow streets. Laughter, banter, anecdotes – conversations are shared on the table and across the street. The speedy ricochet of machine gun Spanish sounds loud above the movement of wandering couples and families and friends.