Posted by razzbuffnik on 2nd November 2009
Just before we left Valencia to head southwest into Andalusia, Engogirl was looking up old train routes that have been converted into bicycle and walking trails known as “via verde”. One review mentioned that the via verde in Andalusia passed through endless olive trees.
We thought that it would be better to head to Burunchel which is close to a few national parks to do some hiking instead cycling.
The person who said that there were endless olive tree in Andalusia wasn’t kidding. About an hour before we reached our destination we started to see scenes like the one below.
There are hills after hills planted with nothing else but olive trees. It’s almost hypnotic passing kilometre after kilometre of evenly spaced trees. As the afternoon rakes through the trees it’s like driving past a stroboscope.
Our hotel in Burunchel has been fantastic with great food and excellent staff. On our first night I asked the waitress (a really lovely person) to suggest a local wine to go with the venison we were having for dinner. Our waitress looked at me with the sort of compassionate countenance that seemed to convey, you poor clueless thing, you don’t have any idea do you? Then she said to me, “we don’t grow grapes around here, only olives”, and then she went on to suggest, what turned out to be, an excellent wine from another region.
Yep they only grow olives around Burunchel, and as a matter of fact when we went up into the nearby mountains in the national parks, it looks like there is nothing but olive trees as far as the eye can see.
The sight of such mass plantings right up to the park boundaries reinforced in my mind the theory that I have, that national parks, just about anywhere, only exist in areas that can’t be farmed.
Even when we drove about 100 kms (about 62 miles) north up to Segura de La Sierra there was nothing being farmed but olive trees.
Interestingly many of the little villages we passed were on hill tops and nearly all of them have some kind of defensive fortifications, be it a little tower or a full blown castle. This brings to mind how turbulent Spanish history has been.
Back home in Australia towns tend to be built on some economic nexus point, like the availability of fresh water, a resource and a harbour for instance. In Spain the need for security seems have come first and then people have tried to make a living where they could more easily defend themselves, even though to do so would’ve made life very difficult. Just walking up the hills in these little towns unencumbered is bad enough, never mind having to lug produce around and do manual work in such terrain.
A difficult life is way better than death or enslavement.
Back in the early 1980s I spent three months in Morocco and a large part of that time was spent in a small village in the south. Each day I had to go to the well and stand in line with crowds of women and wait my turn to haul some water out of the deep well. It was such hard work and a real drag.
A huge amount of time is used pulling water up from wells and when I looked at all those hill top towns here in Andalusia I was reminded how life would’ve been for the inhabitants back in the old days. A hill top is not a good place to get water and I bet their wells would’ve been so deep.
In our modern lives we take so much for granted.
Spain has been an amazing place so far and Andalusia seems to be the icing on the cake.
By the way, the olives and the olive oil I’ve had over the last couple of days have been the best I’ve ever eaten. The locals are so proud of what they produce and seem genuinely pleased to be sharing something special when I’ve commented on how delicious their olives are. I had some green olives stuffed with anchovies the other night as tapas that were to die for.