Monday, June 8, 2015

Alpujarra: Off the Beaten Path

I love Málaga. I begged my friend for us to go there one weekend, and just lie on the beach. But the night before we were set to leave, her Spanish friend impulsively* invited us to do a “pueblo crawl”, which is like a pub crawl but with (slightly) less alcohol, more food, and no rave music. 
*This is what it's like to have Spanish friends. More often than not, something will happen spur of the moment and you have to decide whether to seize the moment, or be a wet blanket. I chose to go along.
La Alpujarra basically consists of tiny towns on the south side of the Sierra Nevada. They're all "precioso", as my Spanish friend loved to say. She was more excited than I at first, although curiosity got the best of me as we drove along the windiest roads I'd ever been on. In fact, I saw a passenger throwing up on the side of the road. Readers beware.
Following my GPS, and using my friend's knack for chatting up strangers at gas stations, we eventually found the first pueblo, Pampaneira. In stark contrast to Jaén's scorching sun, it was cloudy and cold here due to the high elevation. I had to throw pants on. As I scrunched my hands into the pockets of my sweater, we wandered through the tiny central plaza, checking out a wedding (again, my friend 'spur of the moment' ran into the church to check out the start of the ceremony), some jewelry, and then searching for food. We settled on a pub located off a tiny path, where we indulged in house wine, a massive platter Alpujarra-style with fried potatoes and select choices of meats, and a strange cheese-dessert. We drunkenly laughed and talked about life.

We moved on from pueblo to pueblo. All tiny, all with the smallest walking paths this side of Morocco. At our last one, Soportújar , we discovered why it was called the "Witches' Village”. There are many legends surrounding the practice of witchcraft here, and this place wasn't afraid to show it. We found many statues dedicated to witches, and even a site overlooking Soportújar where allegedly rituals were performed. It was a little creepy wondering if witches indeed had practiced here.
I was happy to have visited a region where most auxiliaries don't travel to. It was a slice of life that was nice to see.

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