Smoke signals: Wed, Feb 05, 2003

Have started Spanish lessons. At my assessement with the teacher, Eduardo, last week I was quite pleased as he placed me in course 4 (out of 14). I’m now having 3 lessons of 1.5hrs each per week when I’m not in the hills working. Now, Eduardo is an Argentinian who has evidently been brought up on the Costa del Sol. Hence I’ve now learned to say “Dos grandes beers por favor?” and “Un grande plato de patatas fritas?” ………..I know, but its a start!

Just walked the dogs. High winds high up so my plan of setting an itinerary for a winter skills course has been “blown”. The high winds aborted my plan for a long day trip up Mulhacén including a short (hopefully) descent of the north face to suss out the climbing potential. Instead I did another section of the GR7 with the dogs. This is a great walking trip across the Alpujarras and is fantastic for bad days high up. Great tracks traverse steep hillsides, gorges and gullies to link various “white” villages of the area. Hot sun and the ambiance and tranquility of these villages made it a good half day out. My aim is to do all the sections of the Alpujarras of the GR7 and GR142 and then advertise trips for the older generation.

On these walks you see no-one. Its very tranquil so you get very laid back. Your mind wanders and it’s really relaxing. Just as I was thinking about how the countryside resembled the Rockies of the USA, there in front of my eyes, right alongside the path was ……. an Indian village, full of teepees and suchlike. Now I’m a simple man and I knew that I was really in Spain. I wanted to go up to them and tell them things like… “If yer looking for buffalo, you’ve got a wait, as they haven’t been seen round here for 3,000 years!” or “White men speak with false tongue” (Dont regard myself as white as I’ve got a good tan!)

Something held me back from venturing forth however. Don’t know what. Now I’ve got fairly long hair at the moment and, not requiring a really drastic haircut, I skirted the village. Bet they have even got an Indian name for me now…. Just like Kevin Costner in “Dances With Wolves”. Bet its something like “Walks With Naughty Dogs”.

Looking down on the village from above, I noticed that a full community live there. Kids were running around, happy as anything. It got me into “philosophy mode”. What’s better for the kids? A life here living on the side of a hill, in touch with nature, learning the value of basic things - or a life full of terrorist bombs, soaps, computer games and TV’s? Food for thought eh?

Must say that the Spanish newspapers are streets ahead of ours. I get El Pais (The Country). It’s a good paper, full of news (can’t read it but I assume it must be…ha ha). When you compare with the papers in the UK, which are full of headlines like, ”Latest Arrival At BECKingham Palace”, “Now Another Leaves Big Brother” and “EL TEL Gets Sack” it makes you think. Must go now. Buffalo to kill. white man to scalp, squaws to ravish and my teepee to clean. And all before bedtime.

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