Take a look around Casa Erizo with this Youtube video:
Right at the start of this blog, I said that it was about a place, where hardly anything ever happened, and that’s as true today, as it was when I wrote it. That’s perhaps why I haven’t been as prolific about writing about the place as I’d hoped to be.
However, something has happened this week, and I’ve got the ‘fotos’ to prove it.
It all started with the trundling of a JCB down the camino! Its’ hopper was filled with well rotted goat manure, and it was headed towards Andre’s huerta (vegetable garden); but not before Heth had bravely stood there to halt it, so that she could shovel out some, to feed our roses.
Next day I took the dogs for their afternoon walk, down the same camino. We went past the huerta, where Andre and Isobel had been joined by Antonia and Antonio for some potato planting. Their mattocks were being skilfully wheeled to start the creation of the ridges that the emerging potato shoots needed, and the furrows, that would collect the water, from the balsa, to swell the tubers.
We went on by the balsa (a water tank fed by natural spring) and up into the closest almond grove. The almond blossom has all but disappeared now, but the emerging spring flora in the alpine meadow more than compensates.
Once there; I just sat on a rock in the spring sunshine, to peruse the valley below and watch the activity in the potato field. Everything was coming together according to experience and craft, learned and passed down over centuries.
Meanwhile, the dogs did their usual things.
Holly raced up the mountain to chase rabbits, real and imagined, returning wild eyed and breathless.
Millie just mooched around, fascinated by the lizards starting to emerge from hibernation, that scurried between the clumps of esparto grass.
And all the while, down below the most perfect little potato patch was emerging.
I love sitting out late in the warm evenings while the mountains slowly surround us with their shadow. I love to just sit taking in the sounds and the sights of the night.
Once the bee eaters have made their noisy departure, few sounds break the peace apart from the cicadas in the pine trees that create their symphony that ebbs and flows with intensity through the night. Sometimes I hear the Scops owls making their ‘poo..poo..poo’ cry, so characteristic of a Mediterranean summer night. There is an occasional dog bark or the sound of the Derbyshire birds that greet each other across the valley with a friendly ‘Hey Up, Hey Up’. That’s right - peacocks.
In Barranco de Quiles, There are no street lights to spoil the vista of the Milky Way or the constellations. A multitude of satellites track across the sky, and I enjoy the sighting of the International Space Station, that often crosses the valley in a matter of minutes, looking like a huge lantern. Nothing compares though to the thrill of seeing the shooting stars.
Every night of the summer the family of geckos comes to hunt the insects attracted by the dim wall light.
But tonight is a different night.
Around midnight, at the crown of the hill, dancing torchlights appear along the narrow road. Soon, I hear excited voices chattering and laughing in the darkness. The small group come down the dark lane, and disappears on round the bend. Then another group of people come along: then another: and another, and soon the barranco is filled with the sounds of people expecting a party! The fireworks that they light, erupt into the peace of the night - huge explosions! This is the Romería de Saliente!
These are the pilgrims heading off to the mountain top monastery and church at Saliente, which at 1501 meters is the highest mountain near us.
Each year, many 100's of people assemble in the bars of the surrounding towns and villages, discussing their strategies for the long nighttime walk, and taking the refreshment to help them achieve their goal!
Then they all converge on the beautiful 18th century mountain top church, which has been declared a monument of artistic and historical importance to celebrate in honour of the 'Virgen of Saliente'. They are joined by many 1000's of other pilgrims who arrive by car, and then undertake a shorter pilgrimage up the steep path, to lay thick carpets of flowers all around the alter.
An incredible sight!
The sun hadn’t yet come over the mountain when I set off with the dogs for our morning walk. The air was a little nippy and I was glad that I have already got this winter’s supply of logs in. There were six and a half tonnes of cut olive logs delivered, that will fit straight into the central heating boiler without me having to spend hours toiling with chain saw and axe to make them fit. What a job it was to get them into the dry store. Fortunately, I was able to enlist the help of my mate Pape from the market who was glad of the work.
We went past the huerta where Esperanza grows her tomatoes, onions, beans and calabazas. I had seen her the other day in Oria and she had told me to help myself to any I wanted because she had all she needed.
Jose was out early too, directing the water flow from the acequia onto his small olive grove.
Soon we came upon Gregorio and Antonia collecting their almonds. They had spread nets under the tree and were beating the branches with long poles to bring down the nuts.
Millie will have to hurry if she wants to get her share of the almonds because soon the big almond grapping tractor which can strip a tree in thirty seconds will be visiting the nearby fields.
Then just before we returned to the casa we came across Antonio collecting the ripe purple figs. I must remember to collect some of mine today, so that I can get them drying in the still hot late summer sun.
Amazingly on Saturday morning, people were up to see the young cyclists off on their fiesta tour of the Barranco, and by the time they returned, the bar was open and people were assembling for an afternnon of games, singing and dancing. Laurie was a special hit with the children with his really skilful and artistic facepainting.
In the early evening a short service was held at the little chapel down the track, and then there was a procession to return the 'Virgin' back to the fuenta. Then the band started up and the party started in earnest; and to make sure everyone mingled we had the juego del tornilo, small srews to all the men, small nuts to all the women and you had to try and find a matching pair! The music and dancing continued to breakfast = hot chocolate and churros.
Then on Sunday morning we organised a Hash around the tracks and trails of the Barranco - the Hare 'Puff' laying the flour trail we followed. http://indaloh3.typepad.com/
A huge paella was prepared over an open fire for everyone to enjoy. The afternoon continued and merged into the evening with more dancing; some comic theatre and a display of Sevilliana by the local dancing school.
Our local fiesta 'kicked off' last night!
This year we have gone all posh! Instead of the large sheets strung between the trees and posts, to help shade everyone from the strong summer sun, we've got a proper metal frame complete with awning. Instead of the electric cable strung over the road from Merrito's casa, we've got a low noise generator to supply the PA system and more importantly the fridges of the bar.
Last night was for the vecinos - the neighbours of the Barranco de Quiles, who assembled under the awning around 10pm. Everyone brought food - rabbit stew; tortilla; serano ham; lamb chops; chicken legs; cheese; russian sald; chorizo and my favourite, thinly sliced aubergines fried in batter. Then Antonio produced a huge water melon, and with an equally impressive knife, sliced chunks of the juicy red flesh for everyone there. The bar was doing excellent trade!
Then the tables were cleared, and the band started to play. Everyone danced under the stars (and the new impressive awning) until the late hours of the early morning.