If you’ve been following our path since we made the decision to leave the United States, you’ll remember that one of our intentions was to start opening ourselves to the possibilities that each day could bring.
The past 24 hours held just the kind of experiences that exemplify what “Open to the Possibilities” means to us.
Our last night in the amazing Andalusian city of Granada, Spain, was spent wandering. Aaron and I decided we really wanted to eat more tapas 🙂 and check out the Christmas lights strung up throughout the city. As we began walking into the old part of town near the cathedral, we heard what had to be live music. Following our ears we found a local reggae band belting it out in the middle of a square. As usual throughout Spain, there was a handy tapas bar right there on the corner. We enjoyed a glass of wine and beer and the ubiquitous bowl of olives and the music played on. When the musicians finished, we continued our wander through the city.
Our walk led us to find some amazing light displays down city road after road. Every city and town we’ve been through, from the Netherlands to Spain, has had lit decorations spanning above the streets. Other than a few banners and amazingly huge creche scenes, the lights are the primary holiday decorations.
As we headed back towards the bus stop for our ride back to the campground just outside of town, we found ourselves surrounded by hordes of people dressed in costumes which we decided to follow. We ended up at the beginning of an annual Fun Run through Granada. Thousands of locals came to run, and we were part of only a few spectators! Although the front of the starting gate was populated with the more serious runners in proper gear, the rest of the people were dressed as Santas, wearing boxes as parts of a train, a huge box painted like a bus with people running inside, wearing balloons as if they were grapes, and every manner of wigs and silly costumes required to fulfill the “fun” part of “fun run”. Right before the race began, a line-up of roller-skiers were given a few minutes head start. What a hoot to see and to feel the good cheer as the race began!
The next morning as we signed out of the campground, our proprietor suggested that if we were heading towards Cordoba, which we were, that we check out a town called Antequera where there is a National Monument called El Torcal. We took him up on his suggestion and after a long steep climb up the mountainside Torcal Alto, sometimes dodging sheep and a lone cow, we found an amazingly beautiful area with layered rocks, reminding us of Pancake Rocks in New Zealand.
We checked in with the ranger to get a trail map and as I noticed a small ammonite fossil on the table in front of him, I asked if that was found nearby. To our amazement he gave us directions (for off the beaten public path) to a nearby ridge where we could find ammonite impressions in the stones. Aaron and I enjoyed a great hike through the rocks and discovered a depression in the land that was easily 20 degrees colder and everything was frosted! We walked a couple meters up and it warmed up – you could see the frost line.
Our clamber up the ridge was rewarded with amazing views across Spain’s Sierra Nevada and through a pass looking over the Mediterranean all the way to the Rif Mountains of Morocco on the African continent. When we looked down, we found about 10 ammonites, some of them platter size. When we checked in with the ranger to thank him for the incredible adventure, he suggested we check out the megalithic dolmens found in the city below.
As the trusty navigator, I thought I could cut around the city of Antequera to make it to the dolmens, but alas, after navigating some VERY narrow roads and hitting a garbage can 🙁 , I jumped out and asked a couple that were chatting on the sidewalk if they could help. My iPad map app was undecipherable to them as was my Mexican Spanish, but they understood where we wanted to go, so they jumped in their car and led the way through the streets safely to the dolmens. There are moments when you just know that most people are good. This was one of those moments.
The three dolmens of Antequera are about 6,500 years old, making them the oldest architecture on the continent. They are large slab stones built into a shelter and covered with earth to make a mound. They are positioned (like the megaliths of Stonehenge) along solstice lines and face a mountain called La Pena which is shaped like the profile of a human head. It was an amazing experience to touch stones carefully and purposely placed by our agrarian ancestors.
Our day was not yet done. We continued our journey, this time northwards, through a hundred miles of olive orchards. At times, olive tree’d hills were all we could see for miles and miles. As we were arriving near dusk in the ancient city of Cordoba we decided to “free camp” along a quiet spot in the city park behind the hospital. After settling in and starting dinner, a young fellow named Pablo pulled up in his van to walk his dogs. He is of a new generation of Europeans as he is half Dutch, half Spanish, raised in Belgium, and studying medicine in Cordoba. He spied us and motioned for us to chat. His greeting in Dutch wasn’t so surprising as most people assume that as our motorhome is registered in the Netherlands that we must be too. He was thrilled to find out we were in fact American and he and Aaron chatted for a couple of hours (in English).
Our new acquaintance gave us some suggestions for our adventures southwards; you never know, we just might be open to those possibilities too!
-by Tammy, photos by Tammy and Aaron
A guy named Pablo walking the dogs.
WOW! What a fun way to celebrate Christmas with the street parade and then the dolmens. I’m so glad you’re taking this trip and having such glorious adventures. Roena.
Well written! What was the age of the ammonites?
The ammonites are from the Devonian Period of the Paleozoic Era that lasted from 417 million years ago to 354 million years ago! 🙂 Can’t wait to meet you in Rabat . . .
What a lovely recap of your day, Tam. The photos are AMAZING!!!!! I can’t even imagine how giddy you were to find the fossils.
Most interesting write-up. The ammonite impressions were awesome! El Torcal reminds me of the City of Rocks National Preserve in Idaho. I found the dolmens of Antequera to be fascinating. The Fun Run through Granada was one of those fun moments that you stumble upon while touring. Thanks for sharing…