I cant remember who it was who mentioned Torcal de Antequera to me but after seeing pictures it went right onto my list of places to see before I leave Spain, along with Valencia. Semana Santa in Sevilla makes every day life hectic; you cant get home, cant leave, the streets are crowded so i figured this would be my ideal time to check out a few places on my list.
I tried to round up a friend but in the end it would be a solo trip; just me and my 15 Kg backpack. I finished my three hours at school on Thursday and hit the road. A short lift 15 K down the road to a restaurant off the highway. three of us stalking the entrance. A guy selling Lotto tickets an grumbly campesino selling oranges and asparagus.
I asked a guy walking out and he agreed but told me that first he needed a nap. After shuffling my feet around the parking lot for an hour the driver rolled up and I hopped in.
He was headed home to Granada and talked about he had a son that was “like me”, explaining that his son traveled at any opportunity, had lived abroad and more than anything i guess a bit out of the normal. When we got near Antequera he began to ask where I wanted to be dropped off. I didn’t really know how to get to Torcal but figured I would figure it out from the town of Antequera. when we got into town he offered to drive me to the Torcal. I think he liked the area and wanted an excuse to see it again.We wound up and around the Mountain and finally pulled into the visitor center and said good bye.
A german couple asked me to take a picture of them at a lookout point and we began chatting. They offered to put my bag in their car while we went on a 3km hike but i explained what i was up to and we began the rocky trail.
Halfway through the circuit I found a place that looked suitable to sleep and dropped my bag. My German friends hung around a few minutes talking before giving me some mixed nuts and then leaving me to eat and set up camp.
Only bad thing about a hammock is the need for two trees but i managed to figure out a way to support the other end by wedging carabiners into cracks in a rock. All night I kept waking up worried that at any moment it was going to come undone and send me flying to my butt.
The serenity was piercing. You couldn’t hear a bird, a bug, a car or anything. If the wind stopped blowing you could only hear your own thoughts. I woke up freezing even though my sleeping bag was rated to 0 degrees took down my stuff and finished the hike back out of the park. The amazing thing is that you can find fossils of sea creatures here, 1000 meters above sea level since the mountain used to be part of the sea floor. Wind rain and snow and ice have all led to interesting patterns of erosion that make this park so special.
I Spanish guy delivering meat to the cafe in the visitor center gave me a ride back to town after the chance to hitch a bus all the way to Granada with a group of High-school kids and teachers didn’t work out.
I was left in a bad place so I walked the A-354 toward Archidona, hoping to find a car that could take me a bit farther so i could hook into the A-92. a guy with hiker with a camping van took me just a few minutes down the road and then I walked a bit more til a guy headed to archidona picked me up. He explained the story behind a rock formation we had seen.
The Penya de los Enamorados as it is called is the site of a suicide of two lovers, in a Romeo and Juliet fashion, who couldn’t be together due to social class restrictions. they threw themselves from the cliff hoping to spend the rest of the afterlife together happily in love.
From the gas station where the 354 meets the 92 I caught a ride with a cool guy working in the IT field. he told me about how there is some freaky “glitch” with the Iphones where even if you have all GPS shut off if you take a picture it turns back on.
He left me at a gas station at Avenida Reina Sofia and the A-44 and i needed to get in the A-92 so this was really inconvenient. I was feeling like luck was not on my side so i decided to put in my headphones and bring up the mood. being in Granada made me think of when i met my Croatian friend, Bojana there a few years back so I put on a band she introduced me to, Bedouin Soundclash.
There was too much traffic going in directions where i wasn’t going so I hoofed it 6 km along the A92 until I found a small Suburb. it was creepily still. no people around and nice but rundown homes and a few “castles”.
I finally found a woman out playing with two children and asked her to fill up my water bottles. a ways down the highway, near the ramp for the GR 3424 I had to climb up a really steep embankment. my boots were slipping I scraped up my leg and just when i reached the top the 1.5 Liter bottle of water fell out of my backpack and rolled to the bottom of the hill.
The sun was already really low and I should have set up camp at that point but I was determined to make it a bit further; The name of this area, “Peligros” freaked me out and it gave me the chills.
Just as the sun was setting a red hatchback zoomed past me. hit the brakes and then rolled back slowly. a guy with long dreads hopped out, rearranges some things and invited me in. they were going to a party in a small town just past Guadix, the second largest town in the province of Granada so they figured I would have a good chance from Guadix.
When they let me out I found a restaurant, got a sandwich and charged my phone and contemplated what to do; try to find a hostal or camp. my feet were so sore and I had no energy but I took a walk around the city but didn’t find any hostals so I walked back out of the city to set up camp along the A325.
When I woke up in there was a Guardia Civil, national police officer looking at me from his vehicle. I collected my things and he drove off. I guess he just wanted to make sure i was moving along and not intending to stay long term.
I realized that I was on the wrong side of tow to catch a car in the direction I wanted to go which was fortunate in a way because the town was quite pretty. a large portion of the population live here in homes carved out of the mountain.
I trudged along the N-324 hoping to weed out the local traffic. just outside the city an English guy picked me up in his 4×4 truck, having just come from the city to buy groceries. he owns a sort of yoga/ spiritual chill hotel and restaurant in a town called La Calahorra. he left me across the street from the Andasol PArabolic solar thermal trough Powerplant, whcih according to Wikipedia is Europes first commercial solar thermal power plant.
After waiting for ages at the roundabout I walked back to the gas station. There was a group of friends split between two cars. I walked up and asked one of the girls if they were headed to Alicante and she said no they were going near Almeria. “I mean Almeria” i said, having once again mixed myself up. they seemed OK with it and I met all 7 friends. The only issue was in one car there was some room in the back and in the other car there was room to sit so I had to just trust that my backpack would be OK in the other car.
I didn’t really talk too much with them since they were carrying along by themselves which was a nice break. The scenery was dry and dusty but somehow they manage to produce the majority of Spain’s tomatoes in this area. we cut through some rural roads and finally arrived in San Jose, Cabo de Gata, about 450km from home.
As my car stopped to let me out the other car continued on driving. I thought it was a joke but they never stopped. someone from my car called the others and told them to come back with my backpack but they had already reentered the highway so we had to wait for them to hit the next exit so they could turn around.
When i got my bag I set it down on the bench at the bus stop to eat a snack and saw a massive spider on my bag right around where my neck would have been. I’m not sure where the spider came from or how long he had been on my bag but even now writing about it I have the heebie jeebies.
I found a hostal, needing a shower and a decent nights sleep and met a Polish Guy named Simon who had rented a car. later that evening i told him about Monsul beach and he said, “let’s go, there isn’t much sunlight left”
I wanted to boulder some and make use of my climbing shies had been carrying around. Simond is an armature photographer and despite it being really dark out he got some cool pictures of me climbing by using a flashlight that we borrowed from a Spanish couple who was camping.
They came to watch us and when they saw the results they asked him to take some pictures of them. then they invited us to eat dinner with them. They were grilling whole mackerel and had chorizo and salad and baked potatoes and fruit and bread. It was a great experience but Simond unfortunately couldn’t communicate much with them.
Back at the hostal a few hours later I checked my Email for the first time in a few days and discovered that I had been given an interview for the teaching job in South Korea. The interview would be the following night and I had no nice clothes, no razor no computer an d no stable, reliable internet connection and not knowing what else to do I decided that the following morning I would head back west instead of shooting north for Valencia.
I was hoping i could convince Simond to drive me back to Almeria but he slept til who knows when; I gave up waiting at 11 and decided to hitch back and from Almeria I would see about buses and trains.
As I left the hostal I stopped at a fruit stand and tried to buy an apple but the owner just said take it for free. then as i am walking out of town an older woman and her mom stop to pick me up and drive me out of their way to the next town, wished me luck on the interview, and sped away looking for a local newspaper.
I only waited at that corner outside Pozo do los Frailes for 5 minutes and a guy who had Hitched a ton when he did his mandatory military service picked me up. HE like so many other people went 5 exits past his to leave me at the train station.
On the train I ran into a former adult student of mine and a few hours later I was home, cleaned up and answering questions about my teaching Philosophy and other things.
Find out how the interview went in part two; Hitching West: Sevilla to Sagres