Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Strangeness in the Hills

When bloggers I read take a break from saying interesting things in order to tell us dreary little details about their home lives, humorous anecdotes that have happened to them in Tesco's, or to whine about how difficult it all is because something triviual has caused them inconvenience, I take a break from reading them. A writer's purpose is to interest his audience, to instruct it, to entertain it, to amuse it, to entrance it, to annoy it even, but always to keep it reading. Otherwise he won't have an audience at all. It is in this spirit that I approach such personal matters as I choose to mention here, in the knowledge that, if they are nothing more than 'stuff that happens to me is interesting, don'tyer know' type pieces, of the sort most newspaper columnists churn out daily for reasons that escape me, no one is going to read them.

I have been at the beach for a few days, and, good though the fish was, no matter how fine the weather, creative the sandcastles and relaxing the air, I know that my readers don't care about these things. You want to hear (you don't know it yet, but you do) about El Torcal.

El Torcal is an extensive area of Karst formation near Antequera in Málaga. It's not easy to explain why so many people like to go up there to wander round it, but they do, and it's worth it. At weekends and on holidays the police have to shut the access road some way down the mountain because otherwise no one would be able to turn round or come down again.

It's a landscape that you wander through (there are no real paths, you just follow other people's footsteps in the mud, or clamber up and down the rocks of your choice) with shapes that you can imagine to be almost anything you want. I saw councils of the gods, apples designed by Dalí, boats at sea, round tables, runways for flying saucers, nesting places for giant mythical birds, the faces of friends, enemies, well-known actors, singers, sportsmen, politicians and creatures of the night, cliffs, prison walls, precipices, islands, entire continents laid out before you or hanging over you, and rocks just sitting on other rocks, apparently not rolling or falling off because they just don't feel like it. Not a place to be smoking anything illegal.

And ibexes (or is it ibices?). Real ones, lots of them. It's very hard to see any kind of mountain goat close up. They don't do close up, which is why they like to live up in the mountains. But in that kind of landscape they can be quite close and still feel safe. A family of them crossed the path ten yards ahead of us.

In the links you'll find a lot of info, and photos, so I won't do the technical description of the geology, or the how to get there. I wanted to tell you why it's worth doing.

Note: Bit of trouble uploading photos. I'll do it later.

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