I walked today along the route of one of the many dry or almost dry streams in the area. The map is full of blue lines, some full, some broken, with the words ‘non-permanent water-course’ next to the symbol in the legend. Many of them have not had water for many years. Some, in fact, are barely visible on the ground, but are perfectly clear from satellite photographs, and you wonder where the water has gone that once created these great channels.
The stream I took today does have water this year, and when it doesn’t you can still see where it flows. I particularly like this path because it takes you between bright red hills covered with bright green vegetation. The water may be barely visible, but the plants know it’s there. There is a freshness to it which is very rare here.
But there is a lot more to the path than a feeling. There are little stone bridges where it winds back and forth across the water. There are little cottages used by the men who have gardens there, as sheds are in England, but some are bigger and become a place of refuge, especially during the summer. Some are proper houses, two floors and whitewashed walls, and once families would have lived there all year round, with the chickens and the dogs and the pig in the corral. Now they are just summer dwellings, quiet, solitary places which appeal to the owners who still grow crops on the old riverbed.
There is a ruined Moorish castle, little more than a square turret, rising through the trees on a small hill near where you pick up the main road again. I saw it once after very heavy rain had turned the hill into an island, and you see the castle as it was intended to be, unreachable by stealth, a safe place from which to keep an eye on the surrounding country. There are a lot of them here.
From that point you pass a forlorn and empty campsite, unable for some reason to attract more than a handful of campers, even when at the other campsites downstream they are queuing to get in the doors.
And from there you are beside the lakes. You pass an attractive hotel, tumbling down the rocks to the waterfront, dressed always in freshly laundered white, accessorized tastefully in well-kept wood, and adorned with dabs of red and green and gold in just the right places. You are back among people, and can then choose to swim, row, take the sun or contemplate the world at any point along the banks where you can find room.