El Pequeño Gabriel


Poppies at Las Hortichuelas

Both Las Negras, where we used to live, and the nearby, tiny village of Las Hortichuelas, which we know well, are in a state of shock and dismay following the discovery of the body of Gabriel, aged just eight, in the car boot of the woman who allegedly murdered him. He disappeared after leaving his grandparents’ house in Las Hortichuelas to go to his cousins’ house just a short distance away. For nearly two weeks, hundreds of people had been involved in combing the area for clues as to his whereabouts and there was a manifestation of 18000 people in the city of Almeria to show solidarity on behalf of the distraught parents. The entire country is in official mourning for the little chap and in our village, Alhabia, at 11am, we had a two minutes’ silence for him, officiated by the Mayor.
Our thoughts are with all those who have been personally affected by this tragedy and, in memory, here is a watercolour of Gabriel’s village, Las Hortichuelas, which I painted a few years ago.

Here is a link from todays El Pais with the full story – https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/03/12/inenglish/1520840910_348403.html

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Dia De Andalucia – Migas En La Plaza


The square in Alhabia

Today, while most of Europe and some of Spain are suffering from the freezing weather of The Beast From The East, in Southern Spain we are celebrating a public holiday, Dia de Andalucia, in temperatures of 20C+.



In our village, Alhabia, the local women were cooking migas in the square and handing out free plates of this traditional dish to the community, together with a free glass of beer or wine.


On the steps of the church


Beneath the Castaña de India

Villagers sat on the steps of the church or under the huge tree, Castaña de India, in the square to enjoy their migas.


Migas with jury, morcilla, salchichas and pimiento verde

In Almeria, migas is similar to couscous, using flour and water with fish and/or meat added.


The ladies with migas extras

Today, the ladies enhanced the migas with jurel (fish), morcilla (black pudding), salchichas (sausages) and pimientos verde (green peppers).

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La Fiesta de Naranja, Gador


The Town Hall of Gador yesterday

Yesterday the nearby town of Gador held its annual fiesta of the orange. Crowds turned up to drink fresh orange juice, eat orange fritters and stock up with oranges. We did not stay too long as we have so many oranges from our own orchard that despite getting through 12 a day ourselves and giving large bags of oranges to friends who visit we are not making much inroads into our crop. Unless produced on a large scale, oranges, unlike olives, are not a viable commercial crop.


Oranges on the steps of the Town Hall

Still it was quite jolly at Gador. The town hall was bedecked with orange decorations with baskets of oranges in front.


El Naranjero de Gador

The statue of the orange picker in the square was also adorned with oranges.


Girls of Gador

Digby took these photos and decided that he would give these local girls dressed in traditional costumes an orange background too.

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The Carrera, Alhabia and Terque today


Cyclists below Alhabia

This morning there was a well organised mountain bike race along the lanes and river beds from Alhama to Alboloduy and back following a circular route and passing through Alhabia. We came across some of the competitors racing down a track to the rambla below Alhabia during our walk.


Jose directing traffic

Jose, the functionario from the town hall, had donned a Policia Local jacket and was directing the competitors at this point.


Alhabia this morning

We thought we had better not continue along the rambla as we and our dogs might cause a hazard for the competitors so we walked up to the top of the town. It was a beautiful day with glorious light and the temperature at 24C. We looked across Alhabia to the mountains beyond.


Hanging washing and bonfires in the campo

Women were hanging out their washing to dry in the warm sunshine while in the campo  farmers were still lighting bonfires to burn the olive pruning after the harvest.


A cave house in Alhabia

There are many cave dwellings in this part of town. Some like this one are comfortable and attractive homes.


Another cave with washing

Others are more basic but all are fascinating.


Cave chimney in Alhabia

Chimneys, like this one, poke out of the uneven cave roofs which follow the contours of the land above.


Competitors entering the square in Alhabia

We noticed some of the cyclists descending the town from above and when we reached the square a small crowd had gathered to welcome the competitors as they entered the town.


Taking refreshment

A table was laid out with fruit, snacks and water so the cyclists could stop to refresh themselves.


Alhabia from the other side of the Rio Nacimiento

We decided to continue our walk on to Terque and crossed the Rio Nacimiento to take the track up to this village. Here is the view from this path looking back at Alhabia over a cortijo in ruins.


Terque today

Terque was looking splendid too in the winter sunshine. This is the view across the town from where we arrived looking towards Bentarique and Illar. In the photo you can just make out the snow on the Sierra Nevada where the two mountains ranges appear to meet.


Calle Almazara, Terque

The narrow streets of Terque with their fine houses always create good images. We like this view looking down Calle Almazara with the palm trees in the background.


Water in the Rio Andarax

We walked home along the Rio Andarax. There is water here in the river now due to the snowfalls in the Sierra Nevada from which it flows.

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Street scene with church, Nacimiento

Yesterday morning we drove up the A1079 from Alhabia and continued past Alboloduy winding up the mountain road to the junction with the Almeria – Granada motorway. At the junction we took the country road that drops down to the little town of Nacimiento.


A walkway down to the Rio Nacimiento from the edge of the town

Nacimiento is quite a charming town, typical of the region, but we think receives few visitors as there is only one road to the town which ends here and so it is not on any touring route, though we did notice some signs indicating walks up into the Sierra Nevada above.


A lane in Nacimento above the rio.

The Rio Nacimiento runs below the town and there are walks along the river but we were surprised to see that the river bed was dry. Perhaps it is drained of water to irrigate the agricultural areas around Abla and Fiñana further upstream.


Rincon de Nacimiento

As you can see from the photos, Nacimiento is a town of narrow streets and traditional houses but everywhere seems to look down to the river and across to the mountains.


Family on a doorstep

As usual, cats were to be found on the doorsteps. This family group included a small dog that seemed to blend in with his feline friends.


Pines and Sierra de Gador

On the way back, instead of returning down the A1079, we took the mountain road AL 3407 through the pine forests but first we stopped off at a bodega, Hacienda Capellania. This small bodega products ecological wines – a red, fruity Syrah 13’9% for 4 euros a bottle and a rich Chardonnay 14% for 3 euros a bottle. We bought 3 of each.


Spectacular scenery

Along this road, which carries very little traffic, there are spectacular views across the pines to the Sierra de Gador whose highest peaks still had some snow.


Across to the Sierra de Gador. The valleys of the Rios Andarax and Nacimiento are between here and the mountains

Eventually this road drops down through the pines to join the A1079 just before Alhabia and our cortijo. It made a pleasant circular excursion. We would like to visit Nacimiento again, probably in the spring when we sense it will be very pretty.

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Snow in La Alpujarra Almeriense


Padules and the Sierra de Gador

Last week, on Wednesday and Thursday, we had rain in La Alpujarra Almeriense. There was also a northerly airstream so the rain fell as snow on the Sierra Nevada and the higher peaks of the Sierra de Gador. Since then we have had sunshine every day and, although most of the snow has now melted, we did get some photos of it last weekend. Most impressive perhaps is the view above of Padules with the Sierra de Gador behind.


Laujar de Andarax 

The thickest snow was on the highest peaks of the Sierra de Nevada behind Laujar de Andarax but this was partially obscured by a ribbon of cloud.


Villa Turistica de Laujar

From a different viewpoint though we took this photo of the Villa Turistica de Laujar just outside the town where behind there was a clear view ion another part of the Sierra Nevada. These photos were taken last Saturday.



On Friday morning we walked along the river to Terque where the orange groves, village, blue sky and the distant snow on the Sierra Nevada made a lovely picture.


View from Terque

From the top of the Terque we looked across Bentarique and Illar to the Sierra Nevada. The peaks of the Sierra de Gador here to the left, unlike at Padules, were not high enough to receive the snow but the view still makes a dramatic landscape.

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Acrylic portrait of Daisy

We are absolutely devastated because our beautiful Daisy died on Wednesday afternoon. We went for the usual afternoon walk and as soon as we returned, she began to convulse violently then foam at the mouth. We rang the vet in Alhama de Almeria and arranged to meet at the surgery ASAP but by the time we got there, ten minutes later, she was dead. I suspect rat poison based on strychnine because while we were walking, she disappeared into a narrow tunnel in the river wall which is just the sort of place some stupid person would put poison.
The vet and her nurse were very kind and sympathetic and prepared Daisy for burial and put her in a cardboard box. There was no charge, either, which was nice of them especially as it was an emergency call. It’s so hard to lose a beloved pet suddenly like that. Daisy was only 3 years old and a beautiful, intelligent, affectionate and very active and fit dog. The next few days will be difficult.
Daisy has a grave next to Rubi, our big old dog who died last month aged 14, facing the rising sun. Poor Bobby will miss his mum because now he’ll have no one to play mad games with, Blanquita being too old for such exertion.
Here is a painting of Daisy which I did a couple of years ago and is hanging in our living room.


Bobby, Daisy, Margaret and Blanquita in Terque

Thank you everybody for your kind messages of sympathy. This has been a difficult week but we retraced our walk of Wednesday to see if we could find the cause of Daisy’s poisoning. In the small tunnel which she entered in the river wall opposite Terque we noticed dirty water seeping from an acequia. The vet on Wednesday evening told us that there was water in Daisy’s stomach and asked if she had been drinking. She had no water at home as her convulsions started as soon as we arrived home after our walk so we think there must be high level of toxins in the acequia water which she must have drank. Our other 2 dogs did not go near it and are fine. We shall report this to Seprona, the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil, but this will have to wait until Monday as we are too tired and distraught at the moment. Let this be a warning though to anyone walking their dogs along the Rios Andarax and Nacimiento not to let them near acequia water. Above is the last photo we have of the three dogs together with me which was taken earlier this month. From l – r, Bobby, Daisy and old Blanquita.

Daisy has been a star of this blog and if you fill her name in the search box at the top you will read much about her happy but far too short life.

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