Left to die in the river

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The puppy needs feeding about every three hours

Friday afternoon, while we were walking with our two dogs, Bobby and Blanquita, alongside the Rio Andarax from our home, we heard the plaintive cry of an animal. We thought it was a cat in distress but we could see nothing so we sent Bobby to investigate the sound. He found a small bundle of sodden brown fur lying on its back in the river shallows crying loudly and shivering with cold. It was a puppy, not much more than a week old, that had clearly been abandoned there to die.

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The Rio Andarax where the puppy was found

Normally there is very little water flowing in this stretch of the Rio Andarax but in spring the melt snow from the Sierra Nevada creates fast flowing streams of freezing cold water. There are no roads or houses beside the river here so we think the puppy may have been dumped from one of the surrounding fincas. Perhaps a farmer’s dog had a litter and she was excess to requirements, possibly because she is a bitch.

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Keeping warm by the fire

We took her home, dried and warmed her, and then to the vet in Alhama de Almeria when the surgery opened at 1730. Mari Carmen, the vet, gave the little bitch some specially formulated milk for puppies. She said the puppy had to be kept warm so we lit a fire last night. We have to feed her every three to four hours and wipe her bottom regularly. The vet commented that the puppy was very strong to survive the river and had suffered no ill effects. She will be a large dog and will win no beauty contests. Judging from images we have looked at on google, we think she is a Rottweiler cross. We will attempt to raise her until a suitable home can be found. 

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Santa Cruz de Marchena – Flora and Geology

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Santa Cruz de Marchena

Yesterday, on a beautiful spring morning, we took a circular walk around the hills behind the village of Santa Cruz de Marchena.

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Looking down on the rambla where the walk begins

We started the walk along the rambla at the far edge of the village and followed the track that leads up into the hills.

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Towards the Sierra Nevada

From here there are spectacular views looking north over the valley to the Sierra Nevada ….

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The Valley of the Nacimiento and Sierra de Gador

…. and also across to the Sierra de Gador to the west.

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Wild flowers and lichen

Compared to the Sierra de Gador opposite, these hills are quite barren but there was a profusion of wild flowers. Clumps of this yellow flower were commonplace. Lichen covered the rocks.

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Rock

The geology was also fascinating and we saw gypsum and thick bands of red iron oxide.

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Flora and geology

This photo describes an interesting combination of flora and rocks…

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The narrow path

The narrow path hugs the hillsides and is winding and undulating. It is quite steep in places so care has to be taken.

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Abandoned terraces

We found evidence of former agriculture like these abandoned terraces. Poor irrigation and access plus their small size make it no longer viable to farm these terraces.

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Blanquita, Margaret and eucalyptus tree

The landscape here is virtually without trees but we did walk by this lone eucalyptus. You can see old Blanquita in the photo above. She is now 13 but can manage a long walk at her own pace.

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Bobby found plenty to interest him

Young Bobby is far more active and loved this walk because he could run off searching for rabbits, looking for partridge to put up and chase lizards into bushes.

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Descending back down into the valley

The path descends to the old road to Santa Cruz and you can follow this back to the village and enjoy some refreshment at the friendly bar there. This walk took us about 2 hours but we walked slowly taking our time.

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El Pequeño Gabriel

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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

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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+.

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Migas

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.

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On the steps of the church

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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El Naranjero de Gador

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

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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

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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.

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Jose directing traffic

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

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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.

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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.

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A cave house in Alhabia

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

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Another cave with washing

Others are more basic but all are fascinating.

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Cave chimney in Alhabia

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

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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.

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Taking refreshment

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Nacimiento

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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