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!