Why do we in inland Malaga look so amazing?

We’re in between a rock and a hard place:
A Beach Culture on one side, and nothing but fit builders and gardeners on the other.
In a country that is forever included in any ‘Top 10 of fittest population‘ on earth, and that dominates in sports from soccer to tennis.

paso7How oh how are we going to fit in??! 

Wellllll…. we already do:

  • Tapas: portion control.
  • Steep alleys: no budget needed, no motivation necessary: any village is a free gym, the campo is a free full-time personal trainer.
  • Being busy: just when you trimmed the 10.000 square meters of land you need to walk the 23 dogs.
  • Freshest air of Europe: did you know that healthy air is filled with vitamins, even proteins?
  • A tapa: portion control. Alcohol absorption.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: ¡Viva the Frutería! Nothing needs to be transported from Africa, it’s from straight around the corner, so more fresh is not possible – nor needs less fossil fuel, nor better to support your local economy.
  • Olive oil: the best skin conditioner or hair gel you can find.
  • Music, dancing: shortcuts to happiness, and nothing gives you a glow like happiness.
  • A tapa: portion control.
  • Vocal gym: hands flying in all directions, ar-ti-cu-la-ting, letting the message come from the belly… anyone learning Spanish notices how it brings out the extrovert you didn’t even know you had in you.
  • Force majeure: if as man of 70kgs you are going to take on a prehistoric animal of 700 kgs, of which 5 kgs of horns, you tend to have a tad more motivation for training (Not that many of us would fall in this category, so let’s just pleasantly point out that a wild boar is around 80 kgs and an eagle easily achieves 150 km/hour).
  • Tapa: portion control.
  • Repeat button: another fresh orange from your own tree
  • Vestimentary taste: there’s no way around it, an environment changes you, if you see things 100 times you start to like them. So bye bye track suits and socks in sandals, and welcome Zara, Adolfo Dominguez, Massimo Dutti, Desigual, Caramelo, Springfield, Bershka, Pull & Bear,…

The question rather is…

paso8How are we going to fit in again ‘back home’??!

We find we are gasping for air, our eyes miss the colours, our body behaves as though it was moved from a valley into a flat, no way you could ever let your body live there, and forget about the tapping or clapping of flamenco… and who are those pale people that always find a reason to dress in grey?

Naming a bump in the road a hill?!

We’ve also become more Paso Doble than tea dance, have not studied a culture but had a culture studying and changing us – we give you 5 years before your very first, spontaneous, heartfelt and impulsive ¡olé!
That expression of being alive.
Which is celebrated here, it does not have a holiday dedicated to it, but a life.

Grapevine
Guaro, Sierra de las Nieves, 300 m above sea level
www.grapevine-properties.com

The exquisite phenomenon of ‘Mañana’

9 out of 10 foreigners come to Andalusia for one thing and one thing only: The relaxed lifestyle!  In our heads we are going to embark on a journey of calm blue skies, siestas and inner peace. And then we fail miserably. 

MananaFor there’s one thing we didn’t include in our dreams: that we bring our stress with us. 
It has been compressed into us, day after day, decade after decade, layer upon layer.

So much so that anything stresses us. We get stressed by stresslessness and we get stressed by peace.

Not only does it drive us from within, with us helplessly running in its treadmill, we can also radiate it – and then, then we bump into ‘mañana’, also a great force having had centuries to ripen.

Just as our property search here is the culmination of years of dreaming up the perfect house: perfection being that other addiction of ours. So even if we then finally land in the oasis of rural life, the ploughing through renovations and decoration keeps us being more in our old life – than our new one. For we first need perfection, before we can enjoy the view. Once again not being on the same wave length of many an other culture.

Do you recognise the following in yourself?

Manana-is-zenHow nice that you come visit me!
Let me first close this window. Let me first get that chair out of the way. Let me first apologise that the table cloth doesn’t match the curtains yet and then first get you a drink. First I will put on some music and, oh, why didn’t  you let me know that you would come, so that I could have made more rice than the 465.50 grams that my husband and me eat. Let me first quickly prepare my personal very original tapa so that your visit will be memorable and you won’t think that I’m a bad host, and then, then we can relax. Oh wait, there’s a dog hair on that chair and let me first get that laundry out of the way“.

We probably have just reduced our lifespan by another 2 minutes.
(And increased our medical bills).

Sometimes you wonder whether we are addicted to organisation, as well as to the just-in-time societies we grew up in.  We first need this, before we can do or feel that. And we need time, much time in inland Málaga, before we realise it’s our own running that keeps the hamster wheel spinning.

Is it any miracle that the average Andalusian has a life expectancy that is 2 years longer than ours?  It could beg the question: who has got their act best together? Who is more free?
Let’s break it down in a very Aristotelian/northern way: point per point.
(A Platonian would just sing about it).

1. The healthy Mañana

SiestaWhat else is ‘mañana’ than the expression of:

For today the healthy dosis of triggers has been reached. This is the health line in the sand. From here on it’s information overload. Tomorrow I will be fresh again and fully yours. Gracias.

And by tomorrow I mean: that moment when I’m fresh again. If that is not tomorrow, then surely one of the days there after. At any rate ASAHP  – as soon as healthily possible.

This formidable heat pushes you to walk slowly, in order not to ruin that one good white shirt – and ‘mañana’ does the same for your one good mind and body.

For many an Andalusian, the laundry hanging there bears no relation to the happiness of the moment. ‘How nice that you come and visit me. Which I don’t even say for that goes without saying‘.

2. The dignified Mañana

Manana-the-nobilityJust as a warm, welcoming and festive one – there’s also a deep, austere vein running through Andalusian society.

It’s a vein of pride, a heightened sense of dignity and independence. Empire having had the time to be digested, lost, understood, purified, and ripened.

The way a village lady can stroll in the middle of the street and block the traffic, you’d think she’s the direct descendant of 15th century royalty.

I will not be pushed or pulled, by nobody, and that includes you. You will not impose your pace or impatience on me. You can try to dump your stress on me, but I reject – as a matter of fact, the more you try the more I will pull up the gates – I’m my own fortress“.

3. The rebellious Mañana

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One needs to be a very, very strong country and culture if you can cope with 160 million tourists a year, without it changing you too much. So it’s good that no region in Europe has been so far away from central control for such a long time, as Andalucia: the rebellious and dignified temperament will not disappear very soon.

According to the British writer Gilles Tremlett*, the Spanish passport should actually say something along the lines of: ‘The beholder of this passport is entitled to go anywhere and do anything he/she pleases, the way it pleases him/her’.

Do not forget Spain is the only country on the planet where anarchists actually made it to Parliament – as well as the birthplace of the picaresque novel, the fiction depicturing the roughish hero of low birth who lives by his wits and loves fooling Big Brother. Once a picaro, always a picaro.

“You raise your voice and say it has to happen right now? Then now your spot on the agenda goes from mañana to one week after that”.

Zen, the Latin Way

siesta-cordobaIt was the Daila Lama who said:

Man surprises me. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.  And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

That is nothing but the Asian theory – to the inland Andalusian practise. Very hard workers, very long and hard days in the heat, but never ever forgetting to take a breathe, or celebrate the community and culture.

We know, we know…

We see our region in such a pink, rosy light that we probably need shades in mid-winter (at night, during an eclipse of the moon). For us it’s impossible to see a flaw in it – it’s a box with a never ending series of gifts in it.

(Isn’t that telling though, that one can still be in love with a region just as much as when we first moved to it?  15 years on?)

Anyway it could be a good test:

The next time you feel you are going to be irritated by someone saying ‘mañana‘, you can also see it as someone defending his or her peace of mind as a fortress: “I am the sole and fearless captain of my ship, my time and my feel of well being”.
It’s the precise opposite of being a ‘busy fool’. It’s stately.

Our grandchildren would say: it’s so Coooool.

Happy mañana’ing everyone!

www.grapevine-properties.com

(*) Gilles Tremlett is the writer of ‘Ghosts of Spain‘, a magnificent read packed with insights.

El Caminito del Rey: All you need to know.

The one thing you need to know about the Caminito del Rey is that you really need to know about it.

It is one of the absolute must-do activities if you are thinking of spending any time in Inland Málaga. Take a walk on the adventurous side of life and take on this spectacular walkway that has become one of the jewels of Andalucia.

What is the Caminito del Rey?

The Caminito del Rey is a restored walkway once used by the workers at the hydroelectric power plants at the El Chorro and El Gaitenejo Falls as way of easily transport materials from one plant to the other. It was crowned the Caminito del Rey after King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway in 1921, giving the passage it’s name literally translated as the ‘King’s little Pathway.’

The Camino is known by most as the “world’s most dangerous walkway” after five people died attempting the walk in 1999 and 2000. After these incidents, the walkway closed for over a decade for restorations and was re-opened in 2015 to the public.

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Let’s break down the Camino

There are two ways of doing the Caminito del Rey. There is the North-South route and the South-North route. When I went I took the North-South route (your ticket will tell you which way you’re going to do it).

We parked at the top, right by where trusty Google Maps told us where the North Entrance was. There is very busy looking restaurant and access to some of the swimmable parts of the lakes which are just the most dreamy shade of turquoise blue you have ever seen. From here there is a sign pointing under a bridge stating ‘Caminito del Rey: 2,7km’. This sign takes you through a beautiful scenic forest route to the official start of the Camino. It’s a shady path where you’ll see the beautiful waters peeping trough the tree trunks and feel like you’ve been transported to some magical land. This trail takes around 40 minutes depending on your walking pace.

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When you get the official start of the Caminito del Rey you are given a helmet that must be warn throughout and this is where you hand over your tickets. The walks are done in groups and leave every 30 minutes or so.

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The Caminito del Rey itself is split into three sections. First, a 1,5km boardwalk that snakes along the mountains and through the valley. Following the first wooden boardwalk is a scenic 1,4km walk through the Hoyo Valley, a great opportunity to check out the picturesque flora and fauna all explained on boards dotted along the path.

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The final stage of the Camino is another 1,5km boardwalk and the most iconic part of the walk, the hanging bridge with a pretty epic view through the gorge.

From here it’s a 1km walk down to the bus stop, all sign posted. As the walk is linear and not circular, you will need to find a way of getting back to your vehicle after finishing the Camino. The best way is to catch the regular bus that goes back and forth to both ends of the Camino all day long. It’s 1.50euros per person, so make sure you bring some change!

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How difficult is it?

There are a couple of sections with steps and slight uphill climbs but all in all, the trail is pretty flat. You don’t have to be a sportsman to take on the Caminito del Rey. And although the trail is long-ish, over 7km in total, you are too busy being in awe at the stunning scenery to notice that your feet are starting to tire.

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Booking a ticket

You need to book your trip as far in advance as possible as tickets sell out really fast. You can purchase you ticket here. Tickets cost 10euros each (that doesn’t include your bus fare) and make sure you print it out and take it with you on the day.

How do I get there?

The best ways of getting to the Caminito is by car. If you type in to Google maps, ‘Caminito del Rey Acceso Norte, Ardales’, the map will take you straight to the North Entrance and restaurant where there is plenty on parking all up the road.

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Tips and advice

  • Take plenty of water with you.
  • If it’s forecasted to be a sunny day, don’t forget to bring sun protection.
  • Pack some form of snack for the walk. This could be fruit, nuts or some sort of cereal bar; great for keeping your energy up.
  • Bring your swimming gear with you. A dip in the lakes is a fantastic way to refresh your body and cool down after you’ve finished the walk.

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Laura Wood

www.grapevine-properties.com

 

A South African in Málaga, Spain

“I picked Málaga as it is in so many aspects similar to the Cape Town and region.

When we were house-hunting and driving from Alicante to inland Málaga, our children suddenly said…: This is like home“!

The climate, coast, the landscape, the sense of freedom – it feels like the Western Cape of South Africa (but with much – much much – more olive trees).

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Guaro and Tolox in Malaga

And that’s a good feeling for us South Africans!

We love South Africa, we do not want to leave South Africa, but due to the political situation we are forced to find another country to integrate into and call home.

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Country roads, take me home…

It might be slightly easier (by a small margin however) for English speaking South Africans. They came later to South Africa and often still have a grandfather or relative or other link to Britain, often making it easier to apply for British citizenship.

Us Afrikaans speakers do not have such strong bonds any longer with the Netherlands or Germany. We see ourselves as children of Africa. South Africa is our home, where the heart is and all the roots. Few of us will be looking to willingly move just for the sake of it or to try something else.

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Daar waar my Sarie woon…

If it were for my wife and me alone, we would have stayed.

We’ve got the children to think about though, and over the past years the feel of danger (due to senseless torture, killing and rape and violence) has become too much.
Your radar is forever on alert: did I just hear something? Is that a dog barking? WHY is it barking?
Can I walk to the gate 100 steps further? (and not have to worry that something happens to the children in the house?)

During the day South-Africa is such a paradise. Not a day goes by without acknowledging just how lucky and grateful you are to be living in such beauty. Then the night falls and it’s all about security and laying awake in bed listening to all the sounds out there – that could be of burglars ready to break down your door while they know the police would not be protecting you.

If I’d name the top reasons for choosing this part of Spain, I would say:

  1. The climate is simply identical
    2. Everything feels and looks like home
    3. Safety and security

It’s so beautiful and amazing to come home to our finca in Málaga and the gates are standing wide open.
This is first world Europe but away from the typical too-much-control-about-everything of Northern Europe. Health & Safety and Political Correctness have not yet become a dictatorship, interfering with the quality of peoples’ life.

So for us – it’s perfect here.

On top of that, I find the Andalusians to be very easy. They help out with everything, seem to enjoy the contact with foreigners and seem to have hospitality and an open mind in their blood”.

Mike
Monda, Malaga
(Andalusia, Spain)

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Guaro village, Malaga

Get into the Feria spirit in Inland Málaga

The Feria season is officially upon us in Inland Málaga with the Alhaurin el Grande and Alhaurin de la Torre editions having already been celebrated this May and June.

But do not fret, there are still many more Feria’s to come this Summer including the Málaga, Coín, Monda and Guaro Feria’s this August.

So, what is a Feria?

The word Feria comes from the Latin “free day”. “Free day” was a day in which all people (even slaves) we not obligated to work and on which there were no court sessions. It is said that the term was coined in Ancient Rome and there were three types: stativae (“fixed,” that is, recurring regularly), conceptivae (movable), or imperativae (appointed for special occasions).

Nowadays in Inland Málaga, people use the Feria to describe a town event that brings all members of the community together. The center of each town or village turns into it’s own carnaval, with live music for the adults and fairground rides for the children.

If you haven’t been to a Feria before, this year is your chance! Make the most of the buzzing atmosphere,  attractions, homemade mojitos and live music.

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The Feria ground is lined with different casetas, each one varying in music and ambience

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Some of the Grapevine Family enjoying some mojitos!

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One of the casetas was a Cuban bar serving slow-cooked meats and choripans.
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Come nightfall the streets come alive with bright lights
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Altramuces (similar to butterbeans), tiger nuts and slices of coconut are kept fresh with a constant trickle of water

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Which Feria are you most looking forward to this Summer?

Laura Wood

www.grapevine-properties.com

 

5 things to look forward to this Summer in Málaga

Now that the rain has cleared and the fields are looking luscious and green again, we can start to look forward to the glorious season ahead! Here are the top 5 things we are looking forward to this Summer in inland Málaga.

1. BBQ’s with family and friends

One of the best things about the warmer months is the opportunity to entertain guests outside. Make the most of the warm evenings by dining outside and watching the gorgeous summer sunsets.

2. Summer festivities

July and August mean that it’s Feria time. There are so many local events in summer; the town Ferias, San Juan, Virgen del Carmen etc, just another great excuse to get integrated with your community and enjoy our wonderful region. Also, as the evenings get warmer, the local bars start to buzz with activity.

3. Seafood on the beach

The smell of sardines on the grill has to be one of the telltale signs that the summer is finally here. Sundays are made for moseying down to you local chiringuito to sample some of the freshest seafood.

4. The atmosphere

When the weather is warm, it just puts people in a better mood. Bars and restaurant are busier because of the mid-year tourist boom and you just get that “I’m so lucky to live here” kinda feeling.

5. Beautiful sunsets and starry skies

Inland Málaga boasts some of the most spectacular multicoloured sunsets I have ever seen. At around 9 O’Clock the sky is awash with vibrant colours. Also, the lack of pollution makes for amazingly clear night skies, dotted with too many stars to possibly count.

Laura Wood

http://www.grapevine-properties.com

Inland Málaga is Singin’ in the Rain!

Let’s do something really Northern European this week: talk about the weather. 

It’s a given that the die-hards amongst us are still trying to tan; shivering and shaking by the pool. Most of us though, are not. We do not exactly feel like doing the Macarena this week. The rain in Spain does NOT mainly stay in the plain.

Only one of us is humming ‘Singing in the rain’:

The campo!

The campo, or ‘field’, or ‘countryside’, that great provider of our fresh vegetables, fruits and water, the territory of our wildlife, is having a field day. It couldn’t possibly be more ideal.

First a day of drizzling, making the soil moist and heavy and solid enough to cope with showers.

Then the showers, then raining cats and dogs, not draining away with the dust but actually sinking deep into the earth, filling up all natural reservoirs and wells that have been so dry or empty after such a dry winter.

Then a filmy rain, making leaves and branches shine and putting a layer of lushness over the countryside.

This changing of the type of rain is as if an expert of irrigation is carefully manipulating the weather with the greatest empathy for every fruit under the sun. Not to mention the wild boar who no longer need to come down the mountains in order to find water.

According to predictions we’re still in for a few days of the same – which is…

…the best possible preparation of the long, very long summer to come.

So, actually, it IS a moment to be happy.

Have a cozy week everyone! (Just tell yourself you just saved on a holiday to Scotland.)

Ben Geurts
Guaro, Málaga

www.grapevine-properties.com