By Veronica

Into the hills

Thank you for all the concern about Mystère. He was physically fine by yesterday morning; I'd been going to keep him in anyway, but he showed no desire to leave the house, which is most unlike him.This morning though, he clamoured to go out at 8 a.m. as usual, and was in and out all morning until a minor contretemps with a passing cat, chased away by me. So I am sure he will gradually recover his customary fougue. For the moment it seems wise to let him out when we're here, so we can leave the front door open for him to dash in if there's a problem.

This afternoon we went for an explore of the hills over the other side of Motril. Up a steep wiggly road which reminded us very much of the scary trip we made in 2017. Luckily it wasn't blowing a gale this time, so it was a much more pleasant experience. A few almond trees were just beginning to bloom -- it will be lovely in a week or so.

We ended up in Lújar, a village built on the side of a very steep hill in the middle of nowhere (first extra). It looked almost abandoned, many of the houses literally falling down, but dogs barking and voices from behind tightly closed shutters were signs of life. I think it's the steepest village I've ever been in (see second extra), and some people had parked their cars on slopes I wouldn't have ventured to trust.

Despite its remoteness, the village has a restaurant (closed) and a bar (open) so we called in for a coffee. The woman running the bar told us the permanent population was 80 people, in a village large enough to house maybe 400. When S asked what jobs they did, she replied, "They're all retired". Her own sons and husband were all working away, while she stayed here to run the bar. So the future of the village does not look promising. A few foreigners (all from Manchester or Liverpool for some reason) have bought second homes there, but while I'm sure they were cheap, and the views are lovely if you ignore the mar de plástico, in a few years they may regret it.

We drove back down to the coast on an immaculately maintained mountain road, typical of Andalucia. On the whole trip up to Lújar and back down again, about 25km, we saw no other traffic except a lone and very brave cyclist, yet the council still ensures the tarmac is in good condition, crash barriers in place, and the lines painted. It's far better than an equivalent road in France would be.

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