Often it is the small stuff of travel that makes the most vivid memories. Robin Graham, our expert from Tarifa, knows how to invite you into his world of small stuff. And, he has the ability to make you feel you are right there in Jimena, Andalucía.
By Robin Graham
By the time we make it up to the pueblo on the hill we’re out of breath and dehydrated. Mad dogs, Englishmen and us – we’ve left it too late for our hike and we’re out in the midday sun. Luckily there’s a little shop – the old-fashioned kind that sells everything and nothing – and we pour a can of cold drink each into ourselves.
At this time of day the whitewashed walls gleam in the strong light, the shadows contrastingly deep and dark. Once the fizzy drink has taken its restorative effect, I crave a beer and something to eat. We wander through the winding back streets in what we think must be the right direction for a central plaza but before we find one we find our car where we left it, down at the Rio Hozgarganta and its gorge that we’ve spent the last, delightful hour walking along, over the cool rocks, taking a dip with the fish in the clear water and admiring the rolling country that surrounds it.
The path we took curled around the base of the stony height on which the little town – Jimena de la Frontera – hangs, overlooked by the castle that sits at the highest point. The beautiful white village would be worth a visit in its own right, replete as it is with the customary flower-decked façades, red-tiled roofscape, stepped alleyways and pretty plazas, but the hike around it makes it a must. Apart from the beautiful countryside there are a few old mills and an impressive canal structure that was used to feed water to a munitions factory under Carlos III.
Having found the car we get into it, but at the top of the little road we turn left into town rather than out of it and finally find that town square we’ve been looking for. The waiter at the bar we pick takes the opportunity to try his English, and though we’re usually so single-minded about what we want we take his suggestions, nervous afterwards that we’ve been upsold in preparation for being over-charged.
We needn’t have been: as is so often the case in this part of the world, we get to enjoy a large lunch – a glass of gazpacho I will remember for a long time, a salad with raisins, some fried fresh anchovies and some tasty mushroom croquetas (deep fried balls off breadcrumb coated béchamel) – along with a couple of drinks each for a ridiculous €17.50.
Another Andalusian summer. Bring it on.
What do you love about Andalusia?
Robin Graham writes about Andalusia, Spain and some other stuff. His stories can be found, with accompanying photography, at alotofwind
He’s a private person but, strangely, doesn’t mind being followed: @robinjgraham or liked: alotofwind