We can't quite believe that we have been here, living in Spain, for over 9 months, and the time has flown by. We have become increasingly busy, with one thing and another as we immerse ourselves slowly into this new way of life. As a result, we have not been able to blog quite as much as we would like, but I felt it worth pausing for a moment just to talk a little bit more about the village we currently call our home: Saleres.
When we first planned this trip, we chose Saleres because we love the house and we love the valley in which the village is situated. However, over these 9 months, our love for this place has grown stronger and stronger to a point where we would find it hard to leave. Decisions now need to be made, as our tenancy on the lovely Casa Magdalena comes to an end at the end of September and we are considering a short-term move to Granada for 6 months while we think about what we do next. However, there is a possibility that we may be able to extend our lease here, so we shall see….
On the face of it, the village is not much to write home about. As we have said before, when we arrived, there was no shop, no bar, nothing, apart from the church. We found it very difficult to meet any of our neighbours, so felt as though we had little chance of becoming a part of the community.
Now that summer has arrived, our whole perspective has changed. We have, we like to believe, a good relationship with our lovely neighbours, Visi and Clemente, but they have disappeared up to Barcelona for the summer months. The huge turning point has been the arrival of El Remojito, our new bar. And no, this is not because we have a perpetual thirst! It has become a focal point for us, and an opportunity to see other people from the village going about their business, which does happen at a fairly somnambulatory pace, but happen it does. The managers of the bar, Kaisa (I have no idea how to spell this name and the owner of the name tells us that it is 'complicated', so I guess we'll never know for sure), and Maria Gracia could not be more lovely and welcoming. Against the odds, they are starting to make something of this bar, in this quiet village, where the residents do not seem entirely keen on having a bar in their midst. This pair understand the concerns that residents have about noise after hours, so handle this sensitively. Through this bar, we have managed to find a village resident who is happy to tackle our pile of ironing (Antonia, the sister of Maria Gracia), and we have been directed to the best place to buy our Olive Oil, milled from olives grown in the valley. To us, it is vital that we contribute to the community in which we live, and these simple steps have been appreciated and we feel infinitely more a part of this place.
Last night, we had an unexpectedly magical moment (one of many). We had arranged to meet friends for a drink at our little bar, and the day before, while we were negotiating our ironing with Antonia, Maria Gracia mentioned that she was trying to arrange a guitarist to come and perform. Sure enough, later that day, the El Remojito Facebook page informed us that the guitarist would be making an appearance.....the next evening. Nothing like a spot of notice. However, we were going to be there anyway, so we met our friends at 7:30pm (early in these here parts) and at 10:30pm the guitarist arrived, accompanied by his entire family of about 20 relatives and friends who brought dinner with them and proceeded to set out a series of trestle tables to accommodate themselves. The concert was due to start at 10:30, but at just past 11 the guitarist took to the 'stage'. It later transpired the the entourage were mainly fellow students from the Granada Music Conservatoire, and a talented bunch they are. I think Maria Gracia felt slightly short-changed, as the 'gig' was minimal and began late! Artists!
Shortcomings of creative people aside, in this tiny village square, outside an unassuming bar, beautiful guitar music filtered out to a very appreciative audience. Very accomplished and emotive playing, and most appropriate for this tiny corner of Spain, under dark clear skies, still warm enough to get in the pool. Intoxicating.
My children, James and Lucie, came to visit this past weekend and we all took a trip down into the Barranco de la Luna which literally lies just behind the village. This natural gorge is a truly magical place - a deep cleft in the landscape through which a river runs and that has its own unique flora and fauna and seems to be removed from the world by millennia. Walking into this amazing, almost Jurassic kingdom struck all of us with awe as we, barefoot, clambered over rocks and down stream to emerge, eventually, into hillsides planted with olive trees and foliage dense enough to completely conceal the gorge from prying eyes. I likened it to stepping out of the wardrobe from Narnia into the real world. This amazing place is on our doorstep.
We have made some good friends; we delight in showing our visitors around; we are completely proud of the place we now call home. Gradually, we are working our way through the administrative aspects of being recognised as resident, and it is not nearly as onerous as we were lead to believe. We made our own initial mistakes, but these have been sorted, and we have recently found the staff in the local ayuntamiento (town hall) to be as helpful as they possibly could be.
Sometimes, we do worry that we sound too smug in our delight at this life we have forged in Spain, but to be honest, if we were anything less, then there would be little point in our being here, so I feel disinclined to dampen down our unmitigated joy! We are finding our own routine, without it actually being a routine. Slowly, we appear to be slotting into the Spanish clock - we are currently only just preparing our dinner at 21:30 after one of the hottest July days on record. I can't imagine being anywhere else, and I think Andrew agrees: we love it here.