day 13 of our escape to andalucia, december 2002

We drive to Parque Natural de Torcal de Antequera

Today involves a certain amount of in-car time, something we've not done too much of, so we're not too unhappy. We drive north-eastwards following a circuitous route determined by our not very helpful hire-car map (which is eccentric to say the least). Vélez-Malaga, Zafarraya, several Villanuevas and finally Antequera.

The area around Vélez-Malaga is an untidy mess of commercial development, smallholdings, farms, villas and second homes. It isn't until after Viñuea that the mountains lift you out of this into more arid and less crowded climes. After Zafarraya you enter limestone karst country, where farms wrest a precarious living from the cracks between boulders. Then, around Villanueva del Trabuco, a very different and much more prosperous area with lush farms, big villas and horses exercising in front of stables.

We approach Antequera through commercial suburbs, then plunge into narrows streets filled with attractive young women and traffic jams. Eventually we find our way out again, and drive up to the Parque Natural.

The Torcal is a massive upheaval of limestone that has been eroded into crazy shapes. It's a place of crevices, weird boulders, capstones teetering on the tops of limestone towers, lizards, succulents, thorny vegetation, circling hawks and, though fortunately not today, of cloud and mists. Access to most of the Parque is fortunately restricted, and you can see why — we follow the "Green Route" through a sample of the landscape and it is apparent that the environment would soon be destroyed by the antics of thousands of clambering humans. At first we are surrounded by a large and noisy family who attempt to climb every boulder and experience every echo. We slow down to allow them to get far enough ahead to be out of earshot and get to feel almost alone in this wilderness. We guess that in the summer it would be very different!



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