Due to connection problems, this entry covers Friday and Saturday until dinner.
I woke to the sound of rain, determined despite the mist to get walking. Last night’s stormy winds seem to have died down, so that’s an improvement.
The route started the same way as my walk yesterday, hugging the line of the road, though some 100 metres away and a bit lower as it contoured round the steep hillside. My first serious obstacle was a landslip that had covered some distance of the track in deep mud and rubble. I backtracked a bit and made my up to the road, soon discovering that the road was also affected by the mud and rubble. A couple of miserable Guardia Civil were holding stop/go boards and a JCB was scraping the tarmac clean. As fast as the JCB worked, more muddy water poured onto the road. I was made to stand, along with a couple of cars, for about 10 minutes in the pouring rain until the Guardia took pity on me and waved me alone through, round the digger.
Yesterday when out I failed to spot the turn-off I was about to take today, so I kept both eyes peeled and focused one of them on the gps, the other on my immediate surroundings. The track now headed out of the small village of Bubion, no longer following a road, but striking across country. By now I was wondering what the Spanish for Trades Description Act is as the water trickled down my legs and into my socks.
The gps has been a real boon today. The route notes are fine but in the pouring rain, even with them in a plastic pouch, they can be hard to follow and it’s easy to lose your place. Turning the page is a pain as well, so I’ve been going digital today. The rain confuses the touchscreen and at times it reacts irritatingly to being hit by a raindrop by closing down or opening up some random app. That aside, it performs well and gives a good sense of security.
The path gained height and the weather worsened correspondingly, mostly in the form of a cold wind. I had left my gloves in my case and rather regretted this oversight. After a brief buffetting on a ridge, I began to drop down to more sheltered terrain and finally arrived in the hamlet of Capilerilla, which may have lots to commend it on a nice day. Today the lanes were rivers and small lakes appeared at each junction. Water poured with force out of every crevice.
By now I had more or less decided to cut my losses at Pitres, a few minutes beyond Capilerilla. It has the advantage of being on a road and a taxi was sounding appealing. I went into a small bar in Pitres, where I warmed up with a coffee and asked about a taxi. The barmaid said there was a bus stop not far away and a bus was due in half an hour. A guy in the corner of the bar offered to run me to Portugos, my destination, but quoted E20 when I asked the fare: I told him the bus sounded better value, and it was, at only E1.50: though it did entail standing in the rain, getting chilled and wetter, for a long 20 minutes.
The bus journey was short – shorter than either the walking route or the wait – but it stopped right outside my hotel. First impressions aren’t great. I had considerable difficulty getting anyone to attend to me: I wandered back and forth between the empty bar and the unmanned reception desk until eventually a guy behind the bar sauntered in, seemed to berate me for something and make jocular remarks no doubt at my expense. A woman finally appeared at reception and conducted a phone conversation whilst she handed me a set of room keys: she stopped her conversation long enough to point me to the lift and tell me dinner is at 7:30, unusually prompt for Spain.
It was great to remove all the wet clothes, have a surprisingly good shower and put on a set of dry stuff. The room has an old fashioned radiator in it, currently draped in a full range of wet gear. The tiled floor seems at higher than ambient temperature, so there may be underfloor heating as well: the room is certainly pleasantly warm. I have yet to find out if there’s wi-fi but I suspect not.
I may change my mind – it’s only early afternoon – but my current thought is luggage taxi tomorrow. If it’s anything like today, walking the sixteen or so kilometres to Trevelez would be less than enjoyable and simply get me soaked again. However, I have four nights in Trevelez, giving time to dry out clothes after walks so I hope to brave the weather there. Naturally, not having weather that requires being braved would be even better, but it doesn’t look like that’s on the cards, unfortunately.
Currently the wind has got up a bit and the rain is diagonal outside my balcony, which is at least a two-cat size structure, though I won’t be sitting out on it. Even in good weather, I don’t think overlooking the main road and those derelict buildings would be the best of views. The power flickered for about half an hour, then went off entirely for another thirty minutes, but seems to be stable now: probably weather-related.
I went down to the front reception at 7:30 and ventured through various doors to no avail. I looked again in the tv-entertained, though empty, bar and eventually came back to my room, deciding I’d go down to the bar at eight and either be fashionably early or fashionably late.
At ten to eight my room phone rang and a voice said ‘deeener’ and hung up whilst I was asking questions like ‘where?’. Down at reception again and I was waved imperiously through the bar, under a curtain, past the hungry leopard and through the dragon’s lair (all right, there’s some exaggeration for humorous effect there) into the dining room.
I have been washing, honest, but once again I was the only diner.
The waitress, who brushed aside my apologetic explanations for being late, is no doubt destined for better things as she’s the first pleasant – at least in a professional way – staff member I’ve met in this place. She confirmed that though there is supposedly wi-fi, there are problems and it’s not working. We also discussed transport for tomorrow and – if I’ve not misunderstood – it’s the hotel which moves my bag, so I can more or less choose my time.
Garlic soup as a starter was take it or leave it. I did the former and the rather greasy pool of soggy ‘croutons’ hid in its depths a poached egg and lumps of bacon. All in all, it was quite good.
I had a choice of main course: ‘carne’ in some form, or ‘merluza’ (hake) and chips. This time I chose the second option. I don’t think Ive had hake before and it took me most of the first fried / grilled slice to suss out the anatomy vis-à-vis the cut, so I had quite a lot of bones to deal with. Nevertheless, pleasant enough, with some acceptable chips.
Pudding again afforded a choice: an orange, ‘natillas’, or something I didn’t understand. I chose the middle option. Now ‘natillas’ can range from almost-creme-brulee to custard and mine was definitely nearer the bottom end of the scale, despite a sprinkling of cocoa on the top. Still, I like custard – cold as well as hot.
I’ve done a few of these trips over recent years and so far, this year, the food is – whilst acceptable – poorer than usual. Maybe the weather is colouring my judgement.
Not long after I finished my ‘postre’, Señora came through and treated me as if we’d never met and she was glad we hadn’t. I agreed to a coffee, saying to myself at her ‘de nada’, ‘we’ll see’.
When I went to bed with the rain lashing outside I had fully decided on accompanying my luggage to Trevelez, so I was in a quandry this morning when it was dry and clear with occasional hints of blue in the sky. The friendly waitress, with whom I’d discussed options last night was of the opinion that the weather could go either way and that it would be safer to stick to the car; which, after some dithering, I did.
It was the hotel’s car and the driver was the boss – the guy I’d met previously. He had a very thick accent and talked to me all the way in the car: it was a real effort to try get the gist of what he was saying. At one point he said his son is an ‘a-oh-a-oh’ and I thought I did well to work out ‘abogado’ (lawyer). I also later confirmed another story I deciphered: that about seven years ago a group of Dutch walkers ignored the advice of a local guide and set off in bad weather. Conditions developed into a white-out of mist and snow; they wandered round in circles no distance from a refuge but didn’t see it. This led to fatalities.
There were plenty of signs of landslips as we drove: in several places there was rubble and soil on the road and maintenance crews were active.
Trevelez looks attractive in the not-quite sun: it’s a medium size village built on a steep hillside, riddled with tiny lanes where I was sure the car would get stuck. Pedestrians would step into peoples’ doorways to let us past and I felt the need to hunch up. The roads are dry, though everywhere is the sound of rushing water, occasionally visible through rain grilles. Several street-signs point out the start of quite a number of walks around here.
The hotel is good. The owner – or at least one half of the owners – is a woman called Emma from Derbyshire so I got all the important information in English. My room is large, equipped with good comfy chairs and two almost double beds with truly vast downies. I have a balcony big enough for the Cat-Swinging World Championships, where my boots are currently attempting to dry from yesterday, padded with a few bits of completed crossword newspaper. Surprisingly for Spain, but much to my delight, are the teabags, coffee and kettle etc.: due, no doubt, to the British influence of Emma.
Evening meals are served a short distance down the road, in the Mesón La Fragua: I’m staying in Hotel La Fragua II and spotted La Fragua I on the way in, so business must be OK in Trevelez, the highest village in the Alpujarras I believe. Emma says I’m the only guest as a party of four who should have been staying cancelled due to the weather.
The village comprises three ‘barrios’ or districts and these seem to maintain at least some separate identity: the official name ‘Tres Barrios’ village tour hints at this. I’m wondering if the name Trevelez originally signified ‘three villages’.
During a stroll through the narrow whitewashed alleys I even regretted to not having put my sunglasses on and was mildly annoyed with myself for taking the easy option and not striding out manfully this morning.
However, the wisdom of my decision was obvious by two o’clock when the cloud re-descended and everything was soaked in permeating drizzle. I retreated from my balcony and read Graham Green in my room instead, glad to be out of the weather.
I have data on three recognised walks from Trevelez. The Siete Lagunas is the hardest, with about 1400m of ascent over 9km, then returning by the same route. I’d like to do that, but it’s not advised in poor visibility as the higher parts are not waymarked. Of the other two, one is of medium effort and the other more of a riverside stroll, apparently. My current plan is to try the medium tomorrow, with a view to visiting the Seven Lakes on Monday, weather permitting. I can keep the easy stroll as back up.
The weather is looking better…
… for a while
La Fragua bedroom