March 28, 2015: First Excursion Day in Spain

We all slept in more than we had intended to this morning.  I have found that sleeping underground in a completely encased “cave” makes my body very unaware of the passing of time and I cannot tell if it is four in the morning or noon!  It is very disconcerting.  Normally I am very good at just naturally knowing what time it is at all times, even when I am sleeping.

What we have discovered is that the master suite is converted from what used to be the animal cellar beneath the old house.  There used to be farm animals down here and that is why the cellar has its own ground level entrance onto the main square!  This is apparently very common in Cáñar for the houses to have been traditionally designed to work this way.  The cellar had been completely separate originally.  When it was converted to be part of the house a hole was cut in the floor of the original downstairs floor of the house and the circular stairway was added to allow you to descend into the cellar.  The cellar has windows but they are all closed up and it would be awkward to have windows open at that level.  So the basement is really sealed off and completely dark.  It stays very cool, though.  At least so far.

Luciana was the first one awake this morning.  She called down that she needed me so I had to get out of bed.  Once she had done her morning routine I went into her room and hung out for a while until the girls were both awake.  Dominica got up at some point while I was in there and took a shower.

Our plan today is to drive around the region and explore.  We did not have a really solid plan but we knew that we wanted to take the opportunity to go see things around the area.  It took until noon before we were really able to get out, into the car and underway.  Maybe even later than noon.

We finally decided that we would head down to the first road and head east on the north side of the river to visit the nearby towns that we can see so close to our own village.  The drive proved to be pretty crazy with tight, twisting roads everywhere.  The distances are very small but the speed at which we can progress is very, very slow.  Often we are only going twenty to thirty kilometres per hour and even at that speed it feels just a tad reckless.

We got to drive by the two tiny towns that are directly to the east and from the road near them we pulled over onto the wide part of a shoulder and took some pictures back towards Cáñar which was pretty cool to see our village from that angle, far up on the hill.

We drove for a while and the road took us through the next valley over which contains three very touristy, but beautiful, villages where the road that we were on actually goes right through them, which was really neat.

We decided, when we got to Bubión, the second of the three tourist villages, that we would park and see town.  There is a museum there that we are very interested in seeing so we were hoping that it would be open.  There were a lot of tourists in town, which was very surprising as we have seen nothing like this in our part of the valley.

There was a big, easy to use parking lot where we left the car and then looked around for a place to eat because none of us had had anything yet today and Luciana had been requesting restaurant food (she had no idea what she wanted, just nothing in the house.)  We looked at a few different places but there was one with a lot of seating options right where we were and their menu looked nice so we tried them out.

Dominica did not want to be out in the sun so we sat in the indoor dining room which was odd because there were a lot of people eating outside and only us inside.  Dominica was feeling a bit woozy from riding in the car on these roads and settled on just having a tropical salad.  I got the fried hake with poor man’s potatoes and a big side of awesome vegetables (that’s a description, not their name.)  Liesl got a tortilla Española.  Luciana ordered the noodles with no sauce and just some butter.

It was way more food that we could reasonably eat.  Liesl barely touched hers and ended up sharing the noodles with Ciana which was fine as there were more noodles that the two of them could possibly have eaten together.  The good thing was that all of our food was awesome and even the girls were very happy with their food.  They are consistently doing extremely well eating real, local food and not needing store bought food in any real quantity and really liking the different foods that we get here.  (Fish fingers have proven to be quite a hit with both of them!)

We talked to our server and he explained that he museum was closed for many hours because of siesta just starting.  We figured that since this town is so close to ours that it would make sense to just return on a weekday when more things are open and there are fewer tourists milling about.

It was really neat from Bubión was that we could see the tall peaks of the Sierra Nevadas that sit above our town too but are blocked by the mountain on which we sit.  The snow is really thick and heavy up there and it is obvious where the snow came from that got us on Tuesday.  These mountains are really high, much higher than anything that I am used to in the States.  These are much more like the Rockies than like anything in the eastern United States.

After Bubió we got back on the road but Dominica felt that she was unable to take any more of roads like this so instead of looking at more Alpujarra towns in our region she wanted to run down to the Mediterranean coast.  That meant driving back the way that we had come.

We drove south right through Órgiva, I am getting used to getting around there now, and then west along the mountain retracing our path that we did in the dark in the opposite direction on Monday night.  She guided me to the coast town of Salobreña which had a castle that she wanted to see, but I had been unaware that that was the goal.

Navigating around Salobreña proved to be pretty difficult and being siesta time meant that everything was closed but the tourists were out in force and it was difficult to get around or park.  We found the streets leading to the castle impassable so gave up there.  We did drive to the shore but did not get out, it was packed with tourists.  It was pretty, though.

We ended up just giving up on Salobreña and using the trip to do some shopping at a larger store – a Dia Maxi, that was located right along our route out of town.  That actually worked out really well.

On our return drive we avoided going back the way that we had come and instead took the A44 (towards Granada) one exit further up so that we would come back on the north ridge of the valley (the one on which we live) rather than coming up the south ridge.  This route is more highway and less winding small roads and takes us right through Lanjaron which is one of the places where we had really seriously considered a few places to rent before we settled on the small, remote village that we are in now.  In reality, Lanjaron is right next to Cáñar but there is a mountain leg between them so they cannot look at each other nor drive easily between them.

Lanjaron is about two third the size of Órgiva but is a very bustling place as it has the big water bottling facility, loads of hotels and services catering to a very booming tourist economy and amazing views.  It is a spa town so has long been a center of tourism in the area.  The town is positively lovely.  Just driving through it is very impressive.  Even though it is slightly smaller than Perry, back home, it feels like it is just loaded with stuff to do.  And the views are just amazing.

We did not stop in Lanjaron today, though.  We looked around just enough to have an idea of what it has to offer and how far away it is (not far at all) and we are thinking that maybe on Monday or Tuesday that we will come back when the crowds are smaller and spend a day here at that time.

As we left town there was a picnic areas on the ridge facing the town with the most amazing views of the village.  So we pulled over and I took a few pictures and videos and the girls had a great time running around as we were the only ones there.  The picnic area was very clearly built to be an observation platform for the village.  There was a very large and very cool map of the area there as well.

We stayed for probably half an hour before driving back to our village.  The girls were ready to be back home by that point.  We had done a lot of twisty, turny driving all afternoon and they just wanted to be in the house and do their own thing.

We parked the car and took the girls to the village playground for a little while.  They had been asking for that all day.  I have no idea why as there is so little to do there but they crave it for some reason.

As we were walking the groceries back to the house one of the locals stopped me and talked to me for half an hour or more. Dominica and the girls managed to get back to the house on their own while I was held somewhat captive having a long and meandering conversation.  While I was there the local orange and potato vendor drove by and stopped and sold us a bag of oranges for just two Euros. Everything is just so cheap here!

Once I made it back home we had some snacks and I set about getting the day’s pictures and stuff uploaded.  It takes so much work to get that done.  I really have to manage it a lot.

We sat out on the terrace, Dominica and I, for maybe half an hour but it was getting dark and a little colder and we decided to come inside for the evening.  It should be warm enough to be outside all evening in a few days, no need to push it now.  It will be warmer than we want it to be in no time.

Liesl and Luciana set themselves up in the guest bedroom and were literally camped out in there watching YouTube craft videos (we are baffled as to how they find these or why they are interested in watching them) from the time tha they got home around seven until they went to bed a little before midnight!  They are so funny.

For dinner Dominica made some soup from a mix that we got at the store today and we ate that with some local crusty bread that I got from the local market just before they closed this evening.  We are all stocked so that we do not need to shop tomorrow since most everything will be closed, we assume.  Liesl came and tried the soup and bread and loved it.  Who would have guessed that our picky Liesl would love Mediterranean vegetable soup and a baguette dipped into it?

Dominica and I retired to the lounge and spent the rest of the evening down there where it is warm.  She read a book and I worked on getting our media for the day uploaded.  I got all of the pictures done and managed to get all of the SGL updates done for both yesterday and today.

I also worked on getting some GoPro videos uploaded to YouTube.  I am still really impressed with how good the videos coming from the GoPro Hero4 Black turn out.

We are not sure, yet, what we are going to do tomorrow.  It is Sunday and we have the entire day free.  We will likely go out for a drive but to where, I am not sure.  A lot will depend on how we feel in the morning and when we wake up.  If we can get up at a reasonable time in the morning maybe we can make it to someplace really big and interesting like Granada, but a place like that take some planning and might be more effort than we are prepared to exert at this point.  We are here for nearly three months which, in some ways, means that we have a lot of time to do this stuff but, in other ways, means that we truly are in a time crunch to get to see all of the stuff that we really want to see before we are no longer in this region.

We think that next weekend we are going to go out to Cádiz province and spend some time at Arcos de la Frontera which has a big festival and a running of the bulls which should be pretty cool to see in person.