Hammocks and Ham

I want you to close your eyes and imagine lying in a hammock with just a breath of warm air bringing scents of lemons and lavender towards you. As you look up, you can see an azure blue sky through olive tree boughs. An eagle circles high above, as high as the snow capped mountains. Does he eat the geckos that are scurrying below you through the brittle, sun burnt olive tree leaves or does he stick to bigger offerings? Swirling swallows swish around in ever decreasing circles and you can see a huge bluebottle unable to make a decision on his resting place; a dragon fly darts towards your pool and a bumble bee bumbles from flower to flower. You can hear his drone stop and start as he takes his bounty from the sweet Spanish broom whose scent is so musky and heady. There are birds chirruping musically to their loved ones on the nearby branches, briefly they appear as if to say “hello and welcome” and then disappear. Listening harder now you can hear a distant tractor and two dogs conversing across the valley; so peaceful yet such a bustling heaven-sent natural theatre – we were in LAS ALPUJARRAS.

Our secluded villa in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada was set back on a terraced hillside amongst its own olive trees, halfway between Lanjaron and Orgiva. Lanjaron, a place that has had the influence of the outside world for longer than anywhere else in the Alpujarras due to the curative powers of its spa waters; Roman in origin, its gushing waters are sold in bottled form as mineral water throughout Spain. Orgiva is the centre of the western Alpuarras and is a lively little town with a bustling weekly market. Having explored our locale we travelled high into the Sierra Nevada to visit Trevelez, a village that as you walk through you can smell the ham being cured. We headed for a restaurant for the wondrous Las Alpujurreno – Trevelez Ham – Blood Sausage – Local Sausage – Papas a la Pobre (poor man’s potatoes) and a fried egg all washed down with lashings of ‘Costa’ wine. To sit high in the mountains with views that take you into tomorrow and eat local fare is a gastronomic delight. We followed our lunch with a cooling swim in the mountain stream; the locals must have thought us mad as we swam in the freezing snow melt waters when they were wearing jumpers.

No television and no internet allowed me to relax, read books and play wonderful games with my family such as ‘See who can throw the most almonds into Daddy’s hat’. We switched off and spent time listening to the noises of the valley, whilst marvelling at the mountains as they melted into the evening sun. It allowed us to be affronted by the scents of a Spanish summer and to eat every meal al fresco. More importantly, it allowed us to share a fantastic family holiday with magical memories.

S White

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