We have decided to spend the night in the village of Cartajima, one of the famed ‘pueblas blancos’ of the mountains of Andalusia … somewhere on the horizon.
Along a narrow road, we spot the village, nestled between hills of chestnut trees.
A short drive later, we are in the only village square, a cramped patch of space next to the church.
This is a typical Andalusian white village, a legacy of the Arab Moors who ruled Iberia between the 8th and 16th centuries.
A short walk from the car, and there it is, our home for the night.
The owner-manager, ‘Botz’, a genial Englishman from Plymouth, is full of tips and stories – he has been here for 5 years.
But first he invites us in for coffee …
I’ve never had such a tasty salmon steak, washed down with great Iberian coffee, … or maybe I am just plain famished? But it’s a wonderful meal, compliments to Chef Botz, who also sits down with us to have his fish.
Dinner done, we hurriedly go out to see the setting sun.
In failing light, we do a quick village walkabout.
Nice setting, but some dwellings have been abandoned. A global problem this, kids moved to the cities to work, leaving the old folks behind. Soon nobody’s left any more. Cartajima now has less than 250 inhabitants, mainly senior citizens.
Rusty intricate balcony railing of a deserted house.
Green logo of ‘Junta de Andalucia’ – the local Andalucia Autonomous Community council’s office. The villagers’ only contact with the government.
Exploring the undulating, twisting cobblestone lanes is very interesting.
We finish off our quick tour of Cartajima at the church, built early 16th century, but still looking great.
Even Botz is still asleep as we gingerly let ourselves out of his house, whose only reminder the night before was to shut the door behind us, and not to worry about it being unlocked.
And yes, we just have to test the only phone booth in town … and it’s working perfectly.
Back to our car a hundred metres away, and fitting our bags into our trusty Ford Fiesta 1.4 Diesel is always a challenge. This puppy gives me 20km for every litre of diesel, which is fantastic!
The craggy mountains beckon.
In the distance, somebody builds his mansion in the middle of nowhere.
And beneath us in a valley, maggot-like sheep forage for food.
> THE END