Sunday, January 8, 2012

In the Hills Again

Just a couple of miles north of Marbella lies the Sierra de Las Nieves, a mountain range like many in the south of Spain, imposing from the coast, beautiful when you’re up in it and, despite the name, not actually high enough to be snow-covered, even in winter. It covers a wide area which is crossed by a network of what, for want of a better word, I shall call ‘paths’. They are walkable, indeed they were made by walkers and are intended to be walked, but they are not easy. Mrs Hickory, despite her many merits, is not a mountain goat, and needs a little persuading to get her to join me on these jaunts, but in the end she always comes, and  afterwards when we’re sitting comfortably in a bar at ground level, she claims to enjoy them.

We found a strawberry tree covered with fruit. Some of it was ripe and edible. I don’t know if it’s common for January, you don’t see many of them in my part of the world, but they provided a bit of colour beyond the shades of green and blue.

From the top you can see Marbella, the other mountain ranges which undulate along the coast, Gibraltar (I think), the Mediterranean, and the coast of Africa in the distance. The full effect is made up of the combinations of colours and the physical feeling of being surrounded not only on all sides but also above and below, by the beauty and power of nature, the sensations in the body from the effort of getting up there, and the knowledge that you have to get down again and that it won’t be easy. Photographs don’t give any sense of what it is likely to be there.

There’s nothing particularly special or unusual about those mountains. There are many like them, but they are all worth seeing. Little by little, one by one, we’re getting there.


James Higham said...

Nothing to do with marble in the name?

CIngram said...

It apparently comes from the Arab name, Marbal-la, which was itself based on an earlier Iberian name, the meaning of which I can't find. Later reanalysed as mar bella (beautiful sea), because it is. Nothing to do with marble as far as I can tell.