Almuñécar to Orgiva – 57 km

I am posting my journals backdated to the day I wrote them, so read from bottom up if you have just arrived. Keep checking back, I have two weeks of journals to upload.

Today we are staying at the beautiful Hotel Mirasol on the North side of Orgiva. Our room is one of two on the top floor with a huge red tiled balcony flooded with the afternoon sun. At the other side of our room is a smaller balcony overlooking the narrow street below and the mountains above.

We set off this morning just after 8am and rode along the busy highway to Salobrena where we followed a farmer’s dirt track down toward the beach below the town castle on the cliffs above. In the touristy section by the beach, we found an open café and ate a lazy breakfast of baguettes and espressos before heading back up through town and on our journey.IMG_0119

We worked our way up into the city of Motril where we stopped at a supermarket to load up on lunch meat, cheese, baguettes, chocolate and drinks. North of Motril, the road slowly wound its way up into the mountains with brief cooling descents. In the morning, we climbed over 1000’ before an exciting descent into Vélez de Benaudalla.IMG_0127IMG_0131

From here we climbed past the dam on the reservoir Embalse de Rules before stopping for a huge lunch by the side of the road. We continued to climb through the afternoon, twisting up into the mountains, curving around cliff faces with dizzying drops below us.IMG_0132IMG_0135

At Pago Y Benisalte, we turned north again, crossing the bridge over the river just before a shepherd led his herd of a few hundred goats across, blocking all traffic. From the river, the road climbed steeply into Orgiva, the setting of the book Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain which I am now reading.IMG_0161

Rosemary, thyme and lavender grow wild everywhere and the scent as we are riding is heavenly. We pass trees laden with ripe oranges and lemons, tempting us to stop and pick them. Orgiva is a pretty little Andalucian town, but it is overrun by Brits, probably because of the popularity of the book which chronicles the lives of a British couple that drop out and buy a rural Alpujarrian farm and settle here to create a new life.IMG_0177

My bags were waiting for me at the hotel. It is a relief, but I find myself looking at all this stuff and wondering why I need it all? Each night, I wash my clothes in the sink and they are dry for the next day. A second set is nice in case they don’t dry by morning and the rain gear, unneeded now, may be important, but as always, I feel that I have brought too much. There is a joy to living simply with few possessions.

Orgiva is such a strange town. I don’t know if it is a direct result of the book, or a story and idea from the book three times removed, but the town has become a refuge for society’s dropouts and mis-contents. Kids fresh from the London scene dumpster dive for off-date food and the smell of incense and cannabis wafts through the streets.

I doubt any of these people actually read Driving Over Lemons. It is a book about starting over in an idyllic rural setting, but it is also a story about hard work and a tough life that is masked by the humour and warmth of the book. It is as if the youth we see know of it as a place to drop out, but the original reasons and ethos are long since lost.IMG_0165

After showering and cleaning up, we went for a walk through town, stopped for a beer, then headed to the supermarket for tomorrow’s supplies. We then retired to our patio to enjoy the early evening sun, a few more beer, sausages and cheese.IMG_0169IMG_0174IMG_0190

Evening found us at a patio restaurant in an alley in the center of town. We ate local dishes, drank sangria and contemplated the theft of lemons and oranges from the local trees.

Download GPX file for the day. [maptype=G_MAP_TYPE]

View Jen & Rich’s post for today.

View Dave & Mari’s post about the last few days.

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