Home, home on the range: Thurs, Oct 09, 2003

After 4 dogs, 2 cats, countless insects and reptiles you’d have thought that was enough to keep at Lanjarón Zoo (i.e my house). However I now also have …………… 2 horses in residence! My friends Sarah and Paul who run the riding stables have split up, and Sarah has problems finding alternative land for her horses. Tracy has brought her black horse, “Jack” (named after Jack Daniels whisky, I might add), down to reside on one of the less planted terraces. As “Jack” evidently gets lonely on a night if he’s all alone (why,oh why do I always fall for this one!), another horse called “Gimley” has turned up. Now need somewhere to put tack, straw, horsefeed etc. I had a quote from a local rip off merchant called Ricardo Rivas of 7,000 euros for the erection of 2 stables. I have politely told him to go away (in my best Spanish of course).

The well that was to solve all our water issues has continued to give problems. The pump works for half an hour and then packs up ……………………. like everything else in Spain, I guess! Antonio thinks the pump is too powerful and is emptying the available water out of the well faster than the well is getting replenished through natural sources. Might have to change the pump, which will mean pulling 70 metres of cable, motor, pump and piping (full of water) out of the well. “Might need a crane” says Antonio. Why is nothing ever simple round here? Funny thing is, after 4.5 months without any rain at all, just as the well was installed, it rained heavily for 2 days and 2 nights. Dirt roads up the Campo (hillside) were washed away. Sod’s Law eh?

Best bit about last Saturday’s attempts to get the well working was that Antonio, Pepe (the Electrico) and myself ajourned at midday to a local farm to return a generator we had borrowed. The farm was run by an old man with no teeth and his son. These people had about 200 acres of good farming land and were probably sat on millions of euros, yet they preferred their “shanty” lifestyle. They gave us copious amounts of a fortified, cloudy wine drink called “Musto”, or was it “Costo”? Anyway, it was strong and bitter. After an hour of hard drinking I had to negotiate the twisty mountain road home, the laughter of Antonio and Pepe in the back, ringing in my ears. I know they like me because they never stop taking the piss out of my crude attempts to speak the lingo.

A new “Woofer” has arrived. Jay Lively is from Kentucky in the “gud ole USofA”. Bit of a redneck, but thinks George Bush Junior is a prat, so he’s OK in my book ………. Jay that is, not Georgie Boy! We spent a hot day painting the upper Cortijo yellow. I know that sounds horrible and tacky but it actually looks very nice and deflects the glare of the sun. He’s well into chainsaws and strimming machines, so he’s proving a useful asset to me.

The German and Israeli woofers have gone now. Their legacy? …………….. lots of fig and grape jam, dried figs, caramalised figs etc. In fact, probably 101 things to do with …. yes you’ve guessed it, bloody FIGS! I don’t even like the damn things. The grounds now, however (in addition to figs), produce olives (130 ‘ish trees), oranges (36 trees), lemons (3), cherries (3), khakis (best fruit I’ve ever tasted) and almonds. In addition the vegetable and herb gardens are coming on good and are well established. Some of the best olives have been picked and stored in jars so that in a few months they are fit to eat. We change the water every day and next week will introduce salt into the jars. It’s too early for collection for the oils but I’ve been told that these trees should yield 500 litres …… a lot of chips! I have got a couple coming on Saturday to show us all how to properly look after the trees. Worth a few bob, I thought.

Emma leaves next week. I shall miss her. She has been good company and it’s been nice having her around. She likes it here though and I think she’ll be back. Big Juan in the local bar will miss her too. He keeps asking her out clubbing in Granada, but she continually refuses. Every time she walks in the bar he does a chicken imitation to her! First snows have fallen in the Sierras and the skiing is due to start end November. I shall get a season pass this year and make the most of it. Bookings for next winter’s mountaineering are going well so far and it could be quite busy. Am I back in the “rat race”?

Got to go as my Jack Daniels and Coke is ready (couresy of barmaid, Emma!). Shall have a sunny siesta, I think. Sod work!

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada