Last glimpse from the Balcon at Nerja. Would like to live in the blue hut on the beach.

Dolphins, hippies and a friendly goat.

Not exactly fancy, but it's all about 'position.' La Herradora, beachside.

 Popped back down to Nerja after a (brilliant) breakfast at the hobbit house. Beaches very busy and hot sun so didn’t stay long, just long enough to say a quick hello to some old friends who were away yesterday. 

 

We thought we’d go up to Granada as the weather is so warm, but as so often happens, we got sidetracked en route. The perfect crescent bay of La Herradora looked so lovely from the motorway we made a last minute decision to go down for a short visit.

 

La Herradora has a shingle, in truth rather scruffy beach, but the water is crystal clear and perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. The water was warm, a few swimmers, but best of all was what was sharing the waters of the bay with them. 

 

Dolphins! 

 

Lots of them. We’ve often seen a pair swimming seemingly alongside us as we drive the coast road from Nerja to Torrox Costa, but to see so many in the clear water if the bay was fabulous. 

 lots of swimmers, and the beach bars were busy. We parked our van here for a while a few years back and have also stayed in the vast camp site at one end of the bay. 

 

We parked up, walked around for a bit and then picked a beach café, a chiringuito, for shade, a cool drink and a beach view. There are a dozen or so chiringuitos along the beach, varying from cheap and cheerful places like this one to the smarter affairs which are closer to full  restaurant status. There’s one at the far end of the beach, other end to the campsite, Swedish owned, which serves exceptional food, but the one we’re in is much more rough and ready.

 

 It’s Granada province here so drinks come with a free tapa. A slice of crusty bread, a slice of cheese and lashings of olive oil may not sound very grand, even when it’s free, but it was delicious. We drove to the other end, climbed the steep hill where the villas cost mega-bucks, and rejoined the old, pre-motorway, road which soon brought us to Almunecar where we detoured again.

 

Almunecar is a big town and grew massively in size with the arrival of German second home buyers. Nerja got the Brits, the Germans bought here or in Torrox Costa where we were yesterday. As a result, everything is spotlessly clean and the chiringuitos are vastly different from the one we’ve just left. One had a wood fire and we expected to see sardines grilling, but turned out to be the rather more prosaic offering of jacket potatoes in foil. Where the La Herradora beach bar had a scruffy roof of dangling palm, here they have thatches that would provoke envy in a Devon village. We decide we prefer scruffiness to perfection. 

 

Back on the road to Granada, the sight of a garishly painted camper van sends us wandering off the road once more, this time to Orgiva. 

 

This is Chris Stewart –Driving over Lemons territory, the rugged interior between the beaches and Granada, and very beautiful, yet a world removed from the coastal sprawl. Orgiva has a brilliant market, not today but every Thursday, and is mostly known for its large hippy population. There are plenty around today, brightly dressed in sandals or bare feet and it’s a mellow atmosphere in the café we choose for lunch, a macrobiotic vegan place with plain benches to sit on. Food is good too, even if we’re carnivorous interlopers. 

 

Mostly the hippy community are outside the town, in vans, cars, tents, tee-pees, all kinds of movable shelter and have been here for many years. It started out with lofty ideals: living ‘off the grid’ close to nature and shunning the materialism of modern life, but I suspect those original plans have been watered down over the years. They still live without electricity, television, the Internet and computer games, but not everybody attends the communal meals these days and, according to the young German man I’m sitting next to many occupants of the commune are not averse to the occasional night on the booze. 

 

He tells me the commune is not what it used to be, ‘too many lunatics, too many criminals hiding from police,’ but he has been here with his girlfriend, who still looks about seventeen, for five years, brought up three babies together and has no plans to return to Germany. The girlfriend has the complexion of a ‘California Girl,’ wears beautiful leather sandals she makes herself and sells on markets (‘the secret is to chew the leather until it is soft’) and a long flowing dress reminiscent of the flower power era of the 1960s.

 

There are three sites, the only one of which we’ve visited is the largest, Benficio, set in a stunning location at the bottom of a ravine. We met a handful of  people who live there at a street market a few days ago. Well spoken, friendly people, their children just on the right side of feral, with children, including a young baby, dogs and adults all packed inside an old van. They were clean and friendly – we bought a beautiful necklace made by one of the girls, their only source of income is what they make and sell – and  are obviously happy. It’s difficult to imagine their lives being enriched by today’s consumer obsessions.

 

Unfortunately, more recent arrivals, perhaps less principled, have caused a few problems locally as the Spanish lady who sold me a loaf of bread referred to them as ‘los sucios,’ which roughly translates as ‘the dirty people.’ Sad to see. 

 

We never reached Granada. Not this time. We found a friendly goat in a kennel though, very close to where we're staying. Not exactly the Alhambra Palace, but that’s not the goat’s fault. She's doing her best.

 

 We’re holed up for a week now. No Internet access so no blog. No, we’re not in a commune. We can rough it for a week or two, even a month or two, but these days we prefer a few simple comforts. If we were still in our early twenties it would have been very different. 

 

Just a week off the grid, and after that, we’re back on the road. Meeting old friends, Polly and The Pope, who are staying near Marbella and after that. Well, we’ll see what we feel like doing next. As today proved, setting off for Granada with a fixed and definite plan, making plans is not our strongest point. Whatever, we’ll be happy.

Tapas are equally minimalist, but delicious, and free. Marigold's tipple is Tinto verano - red wine and chilled lemonade. Wine of summer, indeed.

Spuds roasting away.

Beach bar, to German specification. Note immaculate thatch.