Tuesday, 24 November 2009

This tour of mine is different. It’s musical. So I followed the tunes, as if in a trance. I rode across Benamocarra mounting an andante or a miserere. I stepped on the notes as if they belonged to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Benamocarra was the hometown of one of the greatest classical music composers born in Málaga: Eduardo Ocón Rivas, who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. So there’s a special soundtrack to this tour. And it’s just one click away (PLAY).

(Special Lent Concert at the Málaga Cathedral by the Málaga Town Band and the choir Coral Carmina Nova on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009. Miserere (Benigne Fac Domine) by Eduardo Ocón Rivas. Arranger: Juan Carlos Díaz Campello. Conductor: Francisco Vallejo.)

Getting Closer, Getting There

The road connecting Vélez-Málaga with Benamocarra is lined with reeds, orange trees, and lemon trees. This landscape isn’t typical of Axarquía: no deep ravines or gorges; instead, mildly rolling hills, licked by the neighbouring sea and brushed by the breeze from the fields. Squat mountains that make a friendly landscape peppered with cortijos, whitewashed houses, farmyards, farmsteads… The streets in the town centre are narrow and zigzagging. Leave your car in the first spot you find; you’ll need to get to the heart of town. The town centre isn’t big, so every sight can be reached on foot. So be ready to get lost.

The Tour

My tour began in the higher part of town –maybe one of the oldest ones, too–, in Barrio Nuevo. I had no route to follow; only instinct, a desire to catch the sensations produced by Benamocarra, take everything in, walk in search of the town’s essence –always pursuing Ocón Rivas’s sounds. One of the first things that caught my attention was the archways connecting the walls, which hid streets, little squares, landings, fortress walls, flights of steps. They don’t seem to be architecturally functional but they add beauty to the town. The streets, mostly covered in cobblestones, outline a geometrical layout that highlights the bright walls. The houses have something genuine about them: small windows, doors with knockers hanging from lintels, interior courtyards, exquisite corners –all in all, a patchwork of landscapes and passageways that inevitable remind you of the Arab world. I was seized by smells of traditional food: stewpots, pucheros… The ancient and authentic atmosphere was brought out by the ceramic tiles on the walls. Some of them gave information on old local traditions: “During summer months, families and neighbours get together in the evening to sing coplas and romances around the zambombas. These drums were made with jars or tubes and animal hide, and a reed tied in the middle. Their hoarse, monotonous sound served as a rhythmic accompaniment to old town stories passed down from parents to children in the form of simple songs.” I couldn’t help imagining little Ocón Rivas sitting on the floor in the shadow, listening to these popular tunes and turning them into scores that would then be his own. But it was just a figment of my imagination. Locals are talkative. They stand chatting in front of their homes, sharing opinions on the last fair or morning mandaos (errands). I’d gone so deep into town that I literally got lost when trying to find my way to the Church of Santa Ana. In fact, getting lost is quite easy here, given the narrowness of criss-crossing streets. I asked for directions. “Well, like this, to the left, a long street, then the kiosk, and then like this and like this (gestures), then to the left again along the same street, and then ask for directions again.” That’s exactly what I did. Getting lost was good. I had the chance to see more streets and more boards like the one that read: “During carnival, in spring, or during the long summer nights, the meceor (hammock) hanging from some carob tree or enramá (arbour) was the nerve centre of youth meetings, as the rocking combined with humorous and flattering songs. ‘A la niña del meceor/ se le ha caído el volante/ y no lo puede recoger/porque está el novio delante’ (The girl on the hammock rocking/ has dropped her cap/ and she can’t get it back/ for her boyfriend is just looking)…”. Flowers, flowerpots, and flowerbeds decorate most walls and corners, turning their whiteness colourful. Some houses looked like real gardens. With the help of Benamocarreños, I finally came to the Church of Santa Ana. It’s a sixteenth-century Gothic-Mudéjar temple, the only one with a chamfered nave. It also has a minaret. Inside, the church was simple, brimming with flowers: wooden benches, the Cristo de la Salud float, and the altar, which is… empty! I was then told that the Benamocarra Fair had taken place the week before, so the Christ had been taken down for a procession along the town streets. So now He was sitting on a float rather than being in his usual place. “He has many devotees. Many out-of-towners come to His procession,” they explained. Cristo de la Salud is said to be a miracle worker. They ascribed the salvation of Benamocarra from the terrible cholera outbreak that devastated the area two hundred years ago. Locals gave me a programme of the fair so that I could come next year. Mark these days on your calendar: October 15-18. I walked out. Behind the church there’s the town’s monument to Eduardo Ocón Rivas: a muse-inspired, laurel-crowned lyre standing against the bright blue sky. The composer’s birthplace used to be on a nearby street; now there’s just a sign in its stead. I could hear his music again:

(A bolero by Ocón Rivas and paintings by Málaga-born artist Félix Revello de Toro. Source: tuandaluza’s Channel, YouTube.)

With the bolero still echoing in my mind, I continued walking –a quiet, relaxed stroll. Suddenly, I felt hungry. I went to Bar del Parque, next to Plaza del Calvario. It’s a typical town bar where seniors were having their last coffees and first beers or sodas of the day. I ordered two sodas and a cheese snack, which was in fact a full sandwich, dripping with oil. A comforting, replenishing snack. The bill = €3.20.

Bidding Farewell

I walked back to where my car was parked and got on. I inserted a CD and let the music flow. Opening my window, I heard let echoes of Ocón Rivas out will driving along the final winding streets that took me out of Benamocarra and into the reed bed. La-la-la, la-la-la…

Travel Tips and Useful Links

What to learn: Eduardo Ocón Rivas: The genius of this Málaga-born musician is undeniable. You can read about them on many websites; for instance, Wikipedia, the Juan March Foundation, or OpusMúsica. A study of one of his most celebrated works, Miserere, can be found at Ommalaga.
Useful links: Once again, I’ve relied on my usual reference points for this tour, namely, the websites of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board and the Benamocarra Town Hall.

Comments, suggestions, and opinions from travellers/ visitors to this blog are very welcome. This is intended to be an open door, so the more things shown and said, the better. See you under the Bright Blue Sky.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

If the ocean could merge with a mantle of olives, it’d be in Alameda. There’s ancient green all around. Green olive trees and dark ochre earth nurturing them. It looks never-ending, as if it covered every possible inch. Later, standing on the hillock that shelters Alameda, I’d be able to check its endlessness. Alameda emerges as a busy town amidst the olive trees. It’s quite big, and it’s a nerve centre in its area. By the road, I noticed a series of boards indicating I was following the so-called El Tempranillo Route. “El Tempranillo” was a bandit, a guerrilla man, a fighter, and a thief. In sum, he’s a legendary figure in the collective imagination. He’s buried right here, under the shade of these ancient trees. Both the access to Alameda and its main sights are clearly signposted, so you’d better follow the signs and boards. The town centre is rectangular with long, rectilinear streets –quite distant from the typical Nasrid or Arab layout I’ve grown used to seeing in these villages. Following directions, I easily came to the Church of La Concepción, parking my car in its vicinity.

“El Tempranillo”

As if in a flashback, I imagined El Tempranillo riding his horse, his legendary silhouette lost amidst the olives, fleeing some men and chasing others. His real name was José María Pelagio Hinojosa. He’d been born in Jauja, Lucena, Córdoba, in 1805. He died in Alameda in 1833. He had his first penknife duel when he was fifteen. His rival was much older than him. Can you see them? Pale blades in the moonlight. The reason? Who knows: honour, love, revenge… Then El Tempranillo took refuge in Sierra Morena, where he ruled in the roads and trails. Being only twenty, he led a band of outlaws (many of them were Spanish War of Independence heroes) and they committed all sorts of felonies. They said he was quite a heartthrob, always saying flattering things to the ladies he met. When in 1832 King Ferdinand VII granted pardon to all bandits, El Tempranillo accepted the offer. But then, on September 23, 1833, he was killed in an ambush devised by a former companion. This was when the flesh-and-blood man died and the legend was born. Now, he’s a pervading spirit. He reaches to the neighbouring villages of Jauja, Corcoya, and Badolatosa, but the heart of his route is Alameda, where he’s buried… right in the church courtyard.

The Tour

It was in the church that I came across a board that proved to be quite revealing in my tour of Alameda. It read, “El Tempranillo Route. Hours: October March, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.; Sat-Sun, 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. April-September, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.; Sat-Sun, 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Contact phone number: 957 519 051.” I called and was told the sightseeing tours’ starting point was the Roman Baths Visitor Centre. It was just round the corner, on 19, En Medio Street. I walked 20m. The building was easy to find. I climbed up the stairs and went in. One of the assistants, Carmen, explained the ticket to the baths and the church cost €2. For €1 more, I could visit Jauja, Corcoya, and Badolatosa as well –the full route. I chose to stay in Málaga Province and enjoy Alameda as much as possible. It’d be easier this way. At the Roman Baths Visitor Centre, you can learn about the uses of such a place in Antiquity. I learnt, for instance, that thermae went well beyond baths or massages. They were meeting places where people gathered to talk. The museum is modern, featuring videos, mobiles, information boards, antique replicas, and even a practical example of an archaeological excavation where you can make your own Roman discovery in a big sand barrel.
The explanations were all very interesting, and the best thing was that I could put them to the test myself afterwards, for the real Roman baths lay just outside. They covered a huge surface area cut across by footbridges. The knowledge gained at the Visitor Centre and the boards helped me identify the caldarium, the frigidarium, and other facilities. After this enriching visit, Carmen brought me to the Church of La Concepción and the grave of El Tempranillo. We walked across a shady hall –where I could see some traces of catechism lessons– and through a thick wooden door to find a bright, colourful patio brimming with plants and flowers. Its white and blue tiles lent it a traditional air, even when it was renovated in the 1980s. The courtyard was dominated by a stone cross marking the tomb of El Tempranillo. He’s so famous that the place welcomes hundreds of visitors a day, as if it were the burial place of a rock star. The place is quiet, incredibly peaceful. The only thing I could hear were some birds in the autumn sky. Carmen pointed to a painting on the wall, saying it was the only faithful portrait of the well-known bandit. Then the legend became the man again: José María Pelagio Hinojosa, big sideburns, sparse beard, fringe, neck handkerchief, eyes looking into the horizon… The white cross read, “King Ferdinand VII offered 20,000 reales to the man who found José María a.k.a. El Tempranillo dead or alive. He was pardoned on June 22, 1833. But he died in Alameda on September 24, 1833 from a blunderbuss injury from behind. May he rest in peace. The King of Sierra Morena. I left the courtyard and accessed the church through a small door. It was an overelaborate fresco painted church, with lots of flowers in its altar, dome, and columns. Carmen told me it’d been recently rebuilt and every detail had been taken care of during renovation work. The side walls showed oil paintings of the Stations of the Cross and procession images. This was the end of the tour, so I said goodbye to Carmen, who kindly showed me how to get to La Camorra scenic viewpoint and recommended a few restaurants for lunch. The car was a few steps away, but before getting on, I took a stroll in town, seeking to discover hidden streets and strike up a conversation or two. I walked down En Medio Street, which led to a square with a nineteenth-century fountain. The fountain told a story. Boasting four high spouts, it made it impossible to reach them for water. So locals devised a system to fill jars using a funnel and a hollow log. I then walked up to Plaza de la República, where there’s a clock tower paying tribute to the Second Spanish Republic. This was the other side of Alameda, where streets got lost in the olive groves. I went back to my car and drove towards La Camorra along Álamos Street and then Cañada Street. The viewpoint lay almost upon exiting the town. The climb that leads to La Camorra began in a beautiful grove. The landscape up there was breathtaking: the meadows covered with olive trees, reaching the horizon and beyond; brownish earth and gentle rolling hills. If you take a 360º turn, you spot some of the complexities: a hamlet here, a white cortijo over there… I could hear olive picking sounds. I also made out the now dry Laguna de la Ratosa, shimmering the early months of spring. I pierced into the broken line of the horizon. I could see Alameda down there, in the shelter of Sierra de la Camorra. I spent ten, fifteen, twenty minutes there, rocked by the breeze coming from the fields.


After the landscape feast at La Camorra scenic viewpoint, I was hungry. I chose Cándida for lunch –a restaurant among many. It’s just outside of town, by the road to Mollina. My choice was based on sentimental reasons (the name sounded familiar) and also on word-of-mouth recommendation. There’s a little parking area in front, an outdoor patio, and several interior dining rooms. The menu promised delicious meals. I ordered a beer, a 1.5l bottle of water, porra antequerana (€12 for two), suckling kid with garlic (€13.50), and veal tenderloin with honey cream (€19). The bill = €48.50. Big dishes. Fresh porra antequerana –the influence of the town with the largest number of churches in Spain could be felt. I washed everything down with iced coffee. After a short rest…


... I plunged again into the olive ocean with its brownish, greyish arteries –the roads. I soon lost sight of Alameda. The landscape was now dominated by La Camorra; I thought I could make out a couple of tourists, standing where I stood before. I waved my hand in farewell. Bye, bye, fellow travellers!

Travel Tips and Useful Links

What to do: El Tempranillo Route: It’s one of the best ways to get around. The guides are friendly, making things really easy. There’s a website containing all the necessary information, Ruta del Tempranillo, where you’ll find a biography and sections on accommodation, food, activities, and so on. The contact phone number is (+34) 957 519 051.
What to take: Don’t forget your binoculars. You’ll need them if you want to take in 100% of the views at La Camorra scenic viewpoint.
Useful links: This time I’ve relied on my usual references, namely, the websites of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board and the Alameda Town Hall.

Comments, suggestions, and opinions from travellers/ visitors to this blog are very welcome. This is intended to be an open door, so the more things shown and said, the better. See you under the Bright Blue Sky.


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Benadalid: a town of Moors and old Christians, of Romans and castles, of cork oaks and chestnut trees. Benadalid: the town of the Berbers descended from Jalid. Benadalid: a town of peace and quiet. Benadalid: a town with roads to tread, damp earth to breath upon, leafy nature, healthy water telling stories of times past. Benadalid: a town of harsh winters, and autumns, and springs, and summers. Benadalid: a town of smoking chimneys and pots and stewpots. Benadalid: a town with a mellifluous name and an eventful past. Benadalid: a town with a living history.


The Genal valley faces the sky like a green oasis –leafy, dark, and deep. The hills that reach the river bed are peppered with chestnut trees –a landmark in the area. And now, in autumn, the place becomes a must-visit. The trees bear ochre crests; the chestnuts protect themselves against the hostile weather, showing their more aggressive side. Some have already fallen. You can see them on the road. Benadalid can be accessed from the Algeciras-Ronda road. You have to be on the alert, for although it’s right there by the road, there’s no sign indicating the entrance to town. My advice is, take the right exit (“Ayuntamiento” or Town Hall) so that you can drive down a cobblestone street and reach your first sight: Cruz del Humilladero. You can park in the area.

The Tour: Part One

Benadalid is a little white town with impossibly narrow streets and walls swarming with flowers –bougainvilleas climbing down from terraces like a charm in violet and green. However idyllic it might look now, this town was home to bloody wars. After the fall of Ronda, the Moors living here surrendered to the Catholic King and Queen and became their vassals. “The king promised to respect Muhammad’s law and his Moor people’s property and customs.” This I read in an information board by Cruz del Humilladero. The board went on: “And he consented to their being judged according to Islamic law, by a judge and an al-faqih.” good intentions, however, were reduced to ashes as ongoing revolts and riots brought Muslims and Christians face to face once and again. These clashes gave origin to the Fiesta of Moors and Christians that takes places every year in August: Moor troops steal the image of St Isidore and a Christian army fights against them to get it back. I imagined the castle in the midst of bloody battles. The walls lie some 20m away from Cruz del Humilladero. The overwhelming castle is now home to the town cemetery. With their four towers, the walls distort the Genal skyline –a row of balconies in it, watching over the road connecting Ronda with Algeciras back in Roman times. I respectfully opened the door and heard the hinges squeak. The dark stone walls stood in sharp contrast to the niches. The silence was just appalling, only interrupted by the sound of raindrops. (Yeah, it was raining.) The castle walls loomed against the leaden sky of the sierras. The building looked majestic, as if taken out of a storybook. I walked down Calvario Street to the right to find an dazzling landscape: Serranía de Ronda to the left; the river valley, Alto Genal, and the neighbouring white towns in the distance, wrapped in a gentle fog that was beginning to clear. I came to the Calvario scenic viewpoint –an old threshing floor now furbished with two wooden benches. A wild landscape unfurled before my eyes, its only stain being a house: chestnuts, a smoking chimney down there, a barking dog in the distance. Peace and quiet all around. The damp earth oozes a delicate smell, a light vapour went up from the fields, like embers burning inside. Don’t leave your camera at home when you come to Benadalid; there’re a thousand things to capture with through its lens. Also, bring your binoculars if possible, since you can always spot birds of pray in the area.

The Tour: Part Two

I walked down Calvario Street into the heart of Benadalid, giving in to the colourful explosion of flowers on the streets and decorated façades against the white walls. The ringing bells were my sound compass. I followed them and came to the Church of San Isidoro behind Plaza Nueva. It was a coquettish, romantic corner, with the usual benches and flowerbeds. One of the walls bore a board telling a beautiful story. It could’ve happened right there, in that garden, time gaps permitting. It was the legend of the rose: “It is widely acknowledged that love affairs between Moors and Christians were punished with death. Legend has it that here, in Benadalid, a beautiful young lady fell in love with a Muslim. Their love was impossible, but it was strong, so they made arrangements to run away in the dark of night, in search of the wild rose tree. This plant, now unbeknownst to us, hid powerful essences. Those who pricked themselves with its thorns had to react immediately; otherwise, they bled to death under its narcotic effect. This is how our lovers, falling pray to an unyielding society and an irresistible love, brought their lives to an end.” Intoxicated by this charming story, which evoked other tales of love and death (Romeo & Juliet and others), I turned to Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the town square facing the church. It was a large rectangular square, probably one of the nerve centres in town. As it was raining, it was empty; the Benalizos must have preferred their warm homes to a hostile morning in the open. The Town Hall features an arcade where you can take shelter –an architectural feature I’d not seen in the other Costa del Sol towns I’d been to. I took shelter just to see how it felt, and also to sample the bread and pork products I’d bought in a local store (perhaps Rosa Mari’s store?). From my cosy refuge, I watched time go by and heard the church bells ring. The houses facing the square were stout and traditional, although tastefully renovated with modern touches. Some of them bore witness to Benadalid and the Genal valley’s prestige as country travel locations. An old man walked past towards the church. He produced a bunch of keys and opened the church’s side door. This was my chance to get in, I thought. I asked him if I could come in. “Of course you can,” he replied from the inside. He told me he’d come in a rush because he thought he’d left some of the windows open. “And I was right, so thank God I’m here. Hold on: I’ll turn on the lights for you.” A solemn nave appeared before me. Its austerity was only challenged by a decorated altar, a recently renovated coffered ceiling, and a dome above the altar resembling the sky. As I usually do in churches, I lighted a candle for the patron saint (St Isidore this time). “Your church is beautiful,” I told the man. “It is, yes,” he said proudly, “It’s been recently renovated and it now looks good. We only need a new image of Virgen del Rosario, but you know: the crisis… It’ll just have to wait.” I said goodbye and went out. I walked down Isidoro and Fuente Streets. Taking a stroll in Benadalid is a tour in its own right. Locals just love their town, and it shows in the colours and the aromas: stews, mint, meat, pringá. I suddenly came to the water supply compound, including the washhouse, the Water Museum, and a Roman fountain. I could hear women voices of the past in the washhouse. I imagined their gossiping while María or Antonia or Paca or Felisa filled their jars in the adjoining fountain. On top of the ancient spout (now protected by a wrought-iron gate) I could read “Salus per acquam.” Then I couldn’t resist the temptation: I cupped my hands and took a long, fresh, glittering sip. A nearby flight of steps gave me a different perspective of Benadalid. I could now see the roofs and chimneys. Resting my elbows on the banister, I could only think of one thing: When would I come back to Benadalid?


After getting on by car by Cruz del Humilladero, driving around one, two, three times, taking down some notes, enjoying each and every corner, I left Benadalid behind. On the road to Algeciras, I came to Los Castaños scenic viewpoint after 1km driving. I stopped, got off, and let my eyes wander between the huge mountains, the leafy chestnuts trees, along the endless horizon. And just there, crumpled on the mountains slopes, I could see the white hamlet I’d just been to –a delicate yet compact apparition. I let out a sigh and was filled with the aromas of the damp soil.

Travel Tips and Useful Links

When to come: Fall in Valle del Genal, or the Genal river valley, is just great. If this was true for Benalauría (where I was two weeks back), it’s even truer for Benadalid. The area seems to live in a state of grace at this time of year.
What to take: A camera is a must, as every corner in Benadalid makes a spectacular photo.
Useful links: As usual, my reference points have been the websites of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board and the Benadalid Town Hall, where you can find information on country accommodation. There’s a personal blog, Benadalid, where you can read interesting facts about the town, its history and etymological facts.

Comments, suggestions, and opinions from travellers/ visitors to this blog are very welcome. This is intended to be an open door, so the more things shown and said, the better. See you under the Bright Blue Sky.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Cuevas Bajas is a hamlet blended into the earth, which sustains the tide of olive trees surrounding the town. From a distance, the buildings are barely seen, hidden behind the rolling hills that rock them. Cuevas Bajas is like a hidden rocking ship. The velvety hillocks are covered by ancient, twisting olive trees sinking their roots deep into the soil. Maybe a Roman emperor looked at the landscapes I was now contemplating before commanding the building of a new road. Or maybe it was the Arabs, who left their traces in irrigation ditches and waterwheels along the Genil river. Or perhaps a tribe of hunters in the Copper Age took a break under these very same olives, which still are a staple in the local economy. Miguel Hernández’s proud olive-pickers are still picking their olives, laying out their black cloths and shaking the branches with their sticks, waiting for the green fruit to fall. This is the first link in the chain that leads to the olive oil in your kitchen –the green gold on your morning toast, the essential dressing in your Mediterranean dishes. Having a look at relief around Cuevas Bajas –the houses hidden amidst the hills–, I could easily understand why the revolutionary bandits of the nineteenth century –Chato de Benamejí, Antonio Vargas Heredia, Luis Artacho, Salvador González, the Calderas– chose it as the place to hide after their misdeeds. The township was then nicknamed “Cueva de los Ladrones” (Cave of Thieves) after the high number of criminals living in the area. The neighbouring town of Alameda is home to the grave of the most famous Spanish bandit of all times: El Tempranillo.

The Tour

Down a small hill amidst the thick olive groves, I almost bumped into Cuevas Bajas: a cluster of white houses standing on a hillock. I drove into the town centre and soon I came to the Main Square, where the Church of San Juan Bautista was. I parked here. It was cool on the tree-lined streets. In a glimpse I caught the iron-wrought windows and balconies, the double doors hiding cool inner courtyards, the quieter corners, and the streets going up and down and spreading in multiple branches. If I followed the streets into the horizon, my eyes met the hills carpeted with olives. The town centre was busy and noisy; I could hear voices of men, women, and children. Many people greeted me, so I didn’t feel like an intruder. The Church of San Juan Bautista was a solid building whose only high component was the belfry tower, adjoining the main block. Its brick walls made it look austere. The belfry’s whitewashed panels were the only interruption to the church’s earthen appearance. Built in the eighteenth-century, the church had one distinctive feature: the side chapel, which is usually behind the main altar, was here on the left. From the church square I took Archidona Street following an information board’s advice. The idea was to walk around and find a series of niches locals are devoted to. Most houses in Cuevas Bajas were narrow, their double doors protecting their inhabitants from cold in winter and heat in the summer. I could imagine the square floor plans, the big spaces, behind these doors. Some of the houses looked stately. On the corner of Archidona and Victoria Streets, I saw one of the niches; it had an image of Jesus Christ carrying the Cross. I walked on, losing myself in the quiet and peaceful streets. I took Victoria Street and then turned left into Real Street, where the main sights were: the Casa de los Cristales, the House of Felipe Quintana, the frontage of the old Juan González inn, where nineteenth-century bandits got together to plot their misdeeds. Real Street had a noble air about it, and I strolled down it in the quiet shadow of the trees lining the pavement. Most houses were well-kept, probably renovated following the original designs. I came back to the square in front of the Church of San Juan Bautista and skirted the temple to look at it from different angles. To the left I found another historical building, in the square dedicated to María Victoria León Moyano, a woman who died in Madrid in the 3/11 terrorist attacks. I read the plate in silence and decided to take a longer walk before having my snack.

Appetiser at Bar Tony

Bar Tony lies on La Reja Street. You can easily spot it from wherever you might be near the church. It’s the typical simple town bar, with many locals as patrons. Beer, sodas, tapas, small dishes. All the food is homemade. I ordered two sodas (I still didn’t know who’d be driving back home), two cheese tapas, one fresh bacon tapa, two loin tapas. The bill = €6.50. Timeless classics: the cheese in oil with bread sticks, almost forced me to have seconds. The bar was crowded: patrons in their weekend relax, loud talk, lots of noise. I slowly savoured my tapas, which kindled the desire in me to have met the old bandits, who maybe ate the same cheese, washing it down with good homemade wine.

I got on my car and hit the road that’d brought me here. Snaking up and down, I got to the main road towards Antequera. Suddenly, Cuevas Bajas was no longer visible: the olives and hills had swallowed the white hamlet up, leaving no trace on the horizon. The field workers were knocking the olives down. I could see a man with big sideburns; he was wearing a headscarf and had a snub nose. Who knows… Maybe he was Chato de Benamejí.

Travel Tips and Useful Links
What to know: The lower part of Cuevas Bajas is cut across by the Genil river. In spring, its banks look bright green. By the river bed, there’s the Noria de la Agusadera, an old mill with curious buckets. Bandits: Banditry was a strong movement in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Andalusia. Bandits –who’ve turned into legendary characters in the regions of Antequera and Ronda– have inspired fiction, film, and TV. Chato de Benamejí, for instance, is the protagonist of Manuel Fernández y González’s novel El Chato de Benamejí: Vida y Milagros de un ladrón.
Useful links: I explored Cuevas Bajas on the web with the help of the Costa del Sol Tourist Board and the Cuevas Bajas Town Hall websites.

Comments, suggestions, and opinions from travellers/ visitors to this blog are very welcome. This is intended to be an open door, so the more things shown and said, the better. See you under the Bright Blue Sky.