Why I will never be completely fluent in Spanglish…

After almost four years in Spain I can say that I nearly speak fluent Spanish. I still make grammatical errors, of course, and I will probably always have a Norwegian accent with a slight Mexican twang. I may sound like a local to people who do not speak Spanish, but my cara de guiri (face of a foreigner) gives me away every time, in spite of my attempts at becoming a true Andaluza.

Anyone learning Spanish in Andalucía has the additional language challenge of what’s popularly called Spanglish, a hybrid language taking words and expressions from both English and Spanish, often merging the two into new and un-heard-of terms. The difficulties for expats start when the Spanish take English words and bastardize them. Yet Spanglish goes both ways and the Spanish have equal difficulties understanding an English-speaker trying to communicate in Spanish and inventing words by taking the English expression and adding an a-ending. When I started learning Spanish, I used the same tactics with French words, as one gets it right more often by starting from another Latin language.

Our first acquaintance with ‘Spangli-zation’ was during a night-walk with our senderismo group. We were climbing down from catching the sunset on a local peak. Our group includes several avid photographers who will stop to take pictures along the way, and equally many who will offer helpful and not-so-helpful advice as to how they should compose their shots. At this time I was still primarily at the listening stage of my Spanish knowledge. Anyhow, the advice came at bullet speed (the Spanish speak incredibly fast, in case you haven’t noticed), but with the plethora of advice I noticed one suggestion coming out louder and more frequent than any other. Pon el flaa!, someone insisted. I could figure out from French that pon meant put, and el would be the Spanish article, but what in heavens name was a flaa? I hadn’t heard any word sounding like that. My husband who speaks fluent Spanish (though not yet Andalucian Spanglish) was equally lost. Si, voy a poner el flaa, said the photographer and put the flash on. Duh! Flaa equals flash, of course. It makes perfect sense now in retrospect, as Spanish-made Spanglish words are usually composed by omitting the end of an English one.

There are many differences between Castilian Spanish and Mexican Spanish. Almost 500 years of dissimilarities one could say, which is when the conquistadors arrived in Mexico. There, a guasa means a joke, so no wonder my husband was confused when a neighbour asked if we had guasa. The guy explained that it was on el internét and you had grupos de amigos and it finally dawned on my husband. “Do you mean WhatsApp?”, he asked. Hombre, que si! Guasa is WhatsApp. What else could it be?, our friend said, pronouncing both words as guasa. In fact guasa or WhatsApp is big here in Spain. Everybody has it, grandmothers who have never touched a computer in their life and construction workers who still talk into their cell phones like it was a Walkie-Talkie. So, we learned another Spanglish word.

There should be a preamble to this tale: We live in Andalucía, where people speak a language called Andaluz, which even for Spanish from other parts of the country is difficult to understand. The Andalu’ cut the ending of almost every word, making it much harder to learn than for instance Madrilleño Spanish. Mind you, at least we don’t lisp like they do in the capital here down in the south. There are also more Arab words mixed into the Andalucian language, as the Moorish settlements lasted longer here. If you learned Spanish aboard or on the Internet, it is a whole other matter when you come to Andalucía. The more remote you travel, the shorter and more gobbled are the words. Take the expression meaning any more, as in ‘I do not want any more’. In Spanish it is nada más, but here in Andalucía it is pronounced na ma, which sounds rather like a Sanskrit mantra to me… It is hard for the southern Spanish to pronounce consonants, especially when grouped together. It is almost impossible for them to say for instance worked, pronouncing both the ‘k’, and the ‘t’ sound of the ‘ed’ ending. It is all rather complicated.  Any word starting with an s is also tough for the Andalu’, who will usually pronounce Spain and Espain and school as eschool. My name is hard for people to spell and pronounce in any language, so it did not come as a surprise to me when I got a Christmas present one year with the name Escareto written on it, obviously the Spanglish version of Karethe…

Some well-established Andalu’ Spanglish words are easier to guess than others, such as fou’boo or fou’bol, which, you guessed right, means football. On the other hand, words that particularly may confuse Spanish-studying expats are technical words. Anything that has to do with Internet, social media, advertising, entertainment or fashion are generally Spanglish, as English is the universal language for these industries. I am sure Chinese have Chinglish word for Facebook, which the rural Spanish have given a Spaglish twist, calling it Fassebou.

English is everywhere, but the knowledge is not. You can just imagine how the names of American film stars and English musicians are pronounced here. I usually have no idea who they are talking about, unless I see the name in writing. International chains like Spanish Mango and Italian Calzedonia will use almost only English terms in their Spanish ads. I have seen shop windows advertising el look del otoño (the fall look), which of course rondeños will pronounce el lou. El Sale is another word they use on store windows here, though the word sale in Spanish, which is the present tense third person singular for salir, means to go out and would be pronounced saa-le. Any English word can be used, just ad the Spanish article el, for instance el fashion or el party. But things are not always that evident. When someone told me the other day that we would have a muy lai meal, it didn’t immediately dawn on me that they meant that we were doing a very light meal! So, you just gotta keep on guessing…

A good thing about the Spanish is that they love poking fun at almost anything, especially themselves. If there is a corruption case in the government or a major scandal involving the royal family, count on the Spanish to make jokes, sing songs or write a parody about it. Like any country, people from the south like making fun or the people up north and visa versa. Just normal human behaviour, if you ask me. And of course there is nobody that the Spanish like making fun of more than the Andalucians, other than the Galicians. I heard this joke the other day, which actually may be true. I should mention beforehand that the word cotizar usually means to give a quote (ie. for a job or a piece of art) in Spanish. In English, the joke goes like this:

“They did a survey in Cádiz, asking people the meaning of ‘cotizar’ and 85% of the respondents said that it was a Scotch whisky.”

The Spanish will holler at this joke, but I always need a bit more time before I get it. So, as a Spanglish detective and dissector, I first need to take the syllables apart. Cotizar = Co-tiz-ar. Next, I imagine how Spanish may have omitted letters or altered the word. The sound ar could mean art, arch or ark, or as it were Sark. Thus taking my clue from the respondents, I get my answer. Cutty Sark will be pronounced cotizar by most Spanish, certainly by those who haven’t been to Scotland and tried the real stuff. How the name of a Scotch whisky, named after a clipper, which was named after a short shirt, as mentioned in the famous Robert Burns poem, could become mixed up with a Spanish quote, is way beyond me, but at least another Spanglish mystery is solved.

My absolutely favourite Spanglish experience was when we brought a couple of friends to visit the amazing 2000-year-old Roman theatre just 20 minutes outside Ronda. The entrance is free, if you are lucky and the guy who works at the gate hasn’t left for breakfast, lunch or his siesta. This particular day the gate was thankfully open. Just inside sat a sturdy farmer’s wife on a rock, cleaning an armful of wild vegetables, which people here use in soups and stews. I always like to talk to locals, especially anyone sitting in the middle of nowhere, with only a couple of free-roaming horses, a mule and a dozen sheep (aka the lawn mowers on the archaeological site), as company. She wanted to know where our visitors came from and obviously thought that Canada was in the UK. (not that far from the truth…) This brought her onto a topic she really liked called roy ro. In fact she had always wanted a roy ro. She started speaking about technical things and even threw out the undecipherable name of the roy ro designer. Thinking that this would forever be a Spanglish mystery, I left her to her work. A while later, walking amongst the theatre ruins of Acinipo, I got it. The Spanish pronounce double ll as a y and Andalucians do not pronounce s (or any other consonant for that matter) at the end of words.

Of course, it made perfect sense. The vegetable-cleaning lady had a lofty dream. She wanted a Rolls Royce!

 

 

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Vertical Thrill – Living on the edge in Ronda, Andalucía

When we first came to Spain we visited towns from Granada to Cádiz, searching for a place where we might want to hang our hat, at least for a few months, or if we really liked it, possibly forever. We passed through charming white villages and historical towns, but once we got to Ronda we knew that this was it. Nothing could compare to the dramatic setting, perched on a cliff with the world’s deepest urban gorge splitting the town in two.

Living in Ronda means literally living on the edge. The houses along the rim of el Tajo, as the narrow canyon is called, have nothing but a sheer drop in front of them. Pity the day the house owners need to fix their foundation or crumbling outer walls, as the Tajo is over one hundred and sixty meters deep in places. Just imagine the scaffolding… Anyhow, as long as the stonework holds this means that you as a visitor can sit at a restaurant and enjoy a glass of tinto, or sleep in a hotel room literally suspended in the air.

Such a thrilling place will of course attract visitors by the thousands, but the tourists usually walk across the world famous bridge (one of Spain’s most photographed locations), buy a couple of postcards, have a cerveza and get back on the bus to return to the Costa del Sol. For those of us who live here however, passing the edge is an everyday occurrence. Children walk to school on top of a cliff and people drive to work every day back and forth across the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), which in spite of it’s more than two centuries and the worn cobbled surface is still the main, and really the only, traffic artery between Ronda’s old and new town.

Going to school in Ronda means learning with a view. Whether one takes lessons in Spanish, horse riding, flamenco dancing or local crafts, chances are that your classroom will sit on an edge with a sweeping vista of olive groves and vineyards and the towering Serranía de Ronda mountains at a hike-able distance. It might possibly be too distracting for a daydreaming teenager needing to pass their high school exams, but for visiting students and resident expats who may not need to ace their tests, the view is a definite bonus. Take Entrelenguas, the language school just inside Ronda’s old city walls, where you not only can learn to conjugate your Spanish verbs with a vista, but they also offer wine tastings, movie nights, cooking courses, gardening stints and a pay-as-you-want bar. You may wonder if we learns anything at all here, but we do…

Living in Ronda means loving and letting go on the edge. This type of vertical landscape will spur people to declare eternal love, propose, get married, get re-married, have bitter quarrels and threaten to leave, divorce, all while standing on the brink. The edge brings out the passion in people, particularly on the “holy …..’ balcony which extends out over the Tajo at a drooping incline and with dangerously slight and seemingly rusted supports. You may hear stories about people being thrown off the bridge during the civil war or in the times of the bandoleros, though most of these are local legends and may or may not be accurate. What is sadly true is that some visitors will try to reach out a bit too far to get that last awesome shot of the Tajo. Their very last…

This type of vertical landscape will of course attract thrill seekers. There are wire-frame ‘ladders’ going up the walls of the Tajo, which are used by local and visiting climbers on a daily basis. Most seem to survive… A couple of weeks ago we had a group of young daredevils jumping with parachutes from the bridge and the edge of the Tajo. Keep in mind that it has sharp, uneven rocky edges and is very narrow, just over 60 meters at it’s widest. I chose not to watch the jumping, rather waiting for the video to be posted online the next day, just in case… Last weekend, Ronda was the host of the First European Open of Vertical Progression Techniques in Caving and Canyoning. 150 male and female competitors from all over Europe brought helmets, ropes and shackles and other climbing paraphernalia to suspend and zip-chord themselves over the dizzying ravine. The longest span went over 300 meters. My husband said he would have done it in his younger days (I actually believe him, as he was flying military planes at 17), though I made no such claim and had enough of a thrill just walking down to the bottom of the Tajo to take pictures of the competitors, suspended like tiny spiders far above. Amazing what some people do for fun!

Unbelievable as it may seem, there are rondeños with fear of heights, though anyone with a slight bout of vertigo will gradually and inadvertently be cured of the condition by the mere fact of living here. One does get used to living on the edge and staring into the stunning deep abyss. Many local residents race blindly across the Puente Nuevo as if it was any old bridge with any old view, but such is to be expected. Familiarity may not always breed contempt, but it certainly can breed indifference. I hope I will never take the stunning vista and vertical beauty for granted, though I assure you, you wont see me dangling on a rope across the Tajo any day soon…

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The Hidden, the Buried and the Living History of Übeda, Spain’s Renaissance Jewel

Much has been written about the town of Übeda in the province of Jaén, which with neighbouring Baeza were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2003. Known as Spain’s Renaissance gems, there are possibly more richly decorated and perfectly conserved buildings per city block here than in any other place on the Iberian peninsula; magnificent palaces, grandiose squares, private chapels and stately homes. One can spend days admiring Plateresque façades, Romanesque churches, Gothic arches and religious carvings from the 16th and 17th centuries at the height of the Andalucian Renaissance. Yet, with all its splendour, what struck me most during a recent visit to Übeda was something quite different. Three simple images have remained with me, so here comes the story of The Hidden, the Buried and the Live History of Übeda.

The Hidden History – The street-side baby drop-off
Deep in the old quarter of Übeda on an unassuming side street lies the Casa Cuna or the Cradle House. Now a private residence, the only thing left is a ghost of a window with a screened wicket, formerly the turnstile where unwanted babies were deposited in centuries past. This is where children conceived out of wedlock and women who were raped would ‘deposit’ new-borns they could not, or would not care for. Yet, married couples frequently used the services of la Casa Cuna, as well. A law existed where a legitimate married commoner could receive the title of Gentleman or Hidalgo by producing seven consecutive live male offspring, thereby receiving the title of Hidalgo de Bragueta, literally Gentleman of the Zipper. Such an attractive offer must have challenged many a man to prove his virility. And pity the wives who would let them down and produce female offspring. Entirely her fault, of course…

Passing the wicket today, one cannot help but mourn the tragedy that occurred on this narrow street and inside Casa Cuna, where so many infants suffered and perished. One may wonder what the people living in the house feel? I hope they occasionally light a candle in the turnstile for the abandoned children of Übeda.

The Buried History – The underground Mikveh ritual baths
In 2007, three local developers wanted to convert a few houses in the old town of Übeda into luxury apartments with underground parking. As they began their de-construction, removing the inner walls of a former beauty parlour, they discovered stone arches and other indicators that this must have been more than a regular home. Two of the developers wanted to close up the evidence and continue building without saying anything to the local authorities. (Pretty standard here in Spain, unfortunately) The third developer thought it had great historical value and insisted that they got it checked out properly. The partners split, the good ‘conservationist’ keeping the ground floor and basement for archaeological digs, while the other developers made flats out of the upper floors.

During the initial excavations, the scientists thought they had found a Catholic chapel. In the 15th century, Spanish Jews had to practice their faith in secret, so they disguised the entrance of their synagogue. To further protect their place of worship, the Jewish community had put a fake sign of the Inquisitor Office on the house next door, hoping that nobody would imagine them to be as bold as to live and pray beside a house of the Inquisition. Further excavations revealed the 15th Century synagogue, complete with seven interior wells still with water today. Excavating the cellar area was almost impossible, as past house owners had used the basement as dumping ground, filling it with construction rubble to avoid paying building permits. As literally ton after ton of debris were removed to access what was thought to be an old wine cellar, they discovered the seven stone steps leading down into a Mikveh, a Jewish ritual bath. Regardless of ones faith, there is a peace and serenity surrounding the bath. Though no photos were allowed, the image is imbedded in my mind. There are only a handful conserved Mikvehs in Europe, and two in Spain, the only one with a continuous supply of fresh water in Übeda, making this a very rare discovery, indeed.

It is a tremendous privilege to visit this sacred place that not only the Spanish Inquisition tried to abolish, but which a mere decade ago would have been destroyed forever in the name of progress had it not been for the honesty of one builder. Nine years has passed since La Sinagoga del Agua was discovered and the builder is still its owner. The synagogue’s last chapter is not written yet. Part of the Jewish settlement is still ‘buried’ in a neighbouring house, but the present owner refuses to sell. Anyhow, having waited almost 600 years to be unearthed, what does a few more years or generations matter…

The Living History – the white-haired artist
People have been making ceramics in Übeda for millennia, so naturally we wanted to visit one of the town’s famous pottery workshops. The first morning, we went on a photo hunt, starting at the main plaza. The low sun silhouetted the famous funeral chapel of the Saviour, while it’s rays spread into the empty plaza. Well, almost empty, except for a man with long white hair strolling leisurely through the square. After breakfast, we visited a ceramic workshop across from the town hall. The owner came to greet us, a man with long white hair. “Why did you take my picture this morning?”, he asked with the abrupt sincerity of the elderly. To me, a town is nothing without its people, and this gentleman was someone one hardly would miss. Neither was his story.

Juan Martínez Villacañas, or Tito as he is called, was born in 1940 in the pottery district of Übeda. His father was a ceramic and Tito learned to make pots from childhood. In those days there were still hundreds of potteries in Übeda, primarily making everyday utility items. In the 1960’s most of these workshops were forced to close down, as new materials like plastics and modern technologies such as electricity and domestic water access replaced ceramic vessels. In spite of the dark outlook, Tito continued in his chosen profession, reinventing himself by adapting what he had learned to a modern society where pottery had lost its functional use. He registered his company Alfarería Tito in 1965 and has produced ceramics under the embossed label TITO-ÚBEDA ever since. That he is still around, right in the historic centre of Übeda, is a true testament to his art.

The younger generation of the family now work with him, bringing new innovations while remaining faithful to the rich Spanish pottery traditions, incorporating forgotten methods and designs and bringing back finishes and colours that have not been seen since the Renaissance. Alfarería Tito has received national awards and critical acclaim. Tito’s ceramics are in collections all over the world and have been featured extensively in movies such as Carmen, Alatriste with Viggo Mortensen, Águila Roja and HBO’s Game of Thrones, to mention a few. With such proven success, it is not strange that other ceramics have tried to copy him or his name. But the old artist is not worried. At 76, Tito still goes to his workshop every day, sitting at his potters’ wheel in an old apron encrusted in terracotta-coloured clay. His entire workshop is like a museum with thousands of pieces, hidden amongst which are old photographs, antique ceramic pieces and a transistor radio.

I met one of his helpers in the paint- shop, meticulously hand-brushing tiny cobalt crosses on a white carafe, just like it was done in the 16th century. He had been working with Tito for 30 years, he said. That’s loyalty if you ask me… I wandered into the large courtyard, where giant old wine and olive tinajas stood side by side with Tito’s ceramic pieces. On a wooden table were the leftovers of his breakfast, a torn loaf of peasant bread, a bottle of Jaén olive oil and a well-used ceramic mug. Three large sunflower heads were drying beside it, making the still life complete.

“People always hope to like what they do, but some do what we love.”  TITO

 

 

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My TOP TEN Andalucían Ruins and FixerUppers – The Official 2016 Countdown

I have developed a new hobby after we moved to Andalucía (or more of an obsession, if you ask my husband). I collect Andalucian ruins. Everywhere we go I make him stop so I can snap photos of potential fixer-uppers, and since the autovías have closed access to many roadside settlements, there are increasingly more ruins to see along the Andalucian freeways. Now whether you can get to any of them is another story.

There is something very beautiful about how Andalucian stone houses age, become abandoned, windswept, crocked and bent, in various degrees of decay and finally collapse. Since Andalucía is primarily composed of rocks and dirt, so are its traditional rural houses and farms. While we humans might not look particularly ‘hot’ as we transform back to dust, old stone fincas look just more gracious and harmonious with their surroundings as they crumble back into the soil. My hobby is by no means at an end and I will continue taking photos of dilapidated buildings, but I thought I would take stock and share my favourite ten. So far…

Before I start my countdown, I need to add that I am not in real estate and do not represent any special interest. I do not know if any of the buildings are for sale, nor frankly do I care. It is really irrelevant to the fact, as I collect ’my’ ruins on purely aesthetical grounds. Most of the fixer-uppers are off the grid, many without road access, unless you get on a tractor or go by mule. The buildings are in various state of dis-repair, all seen from the outside. It is hard for me to say which of the ten are my absolute favourites, though possibly more so as one comes closer to number one. Most of the ruins will never be fixed, while others may have lots of restoration potential. Some require more imagination than others to appreciate, though all have lots of patina and hidden beauty.

So, without further ado – The contestants for the 2016 Andalucian Ruin / Fixer-Upper Awards are:

10. Single walled ruin – Old town Ronda
 

I am starting with this one, as it was my first Andalucían ruin. I actually sent it to my parents when we came to Spain. I told them we had bought this perfect fixer-upper, all it needed was a bit of TLC. My husband would do the roofing and I would see to the finer details. Such nasty things one does to shock ones old parents! Anyhow, this ruin is located in Ronda’s Casco Histórico, across from Casa del Moro. As far as I know, it still only has the façade, though the wooden supports that somehow were to prevent it from falling have now been replaced by heavy metal supports.

9. Finca with Eucalyptus trees – near Estación de Benaoján
 

The next contestant is a lovely two-story finca near Estación de Benaoján. The roof has caved in, but that is a minor detail, especially if one considers the idyllic location, tucked beneath a green hill, nestled next to a couple of towering eucalyptus trees, with undisturbed sweeping views. If you look carefully to the right of the photo, you see that the property comes with a couple of well-disguised speckled black sheep, and who wouldn’t like to have a black sheep to keep one company?

8. Ruins of Arab fortress – Teba
 

This is not your regular private dwelling. It is an Arab fortress and key player in the Battle of Teba in the year of 1330. It is protected, but it still falls under my definition of a ruin, and a stunning one at that! Located just above the village of Teba, hopefully nobody will be able to build this into a dream castle or Andaluz theme park. Instead, this is where one can see a perfect example of how a stone carcasses of past grandeur blends beautifully with the landscape. And what a golden vista!

7. Casa with iron gate – Ronda
 

This lovely fixer-upper is located on our walk out to the Pilar de Cartajima. The blackberries have more or less taken over the house, but just look at that priceless crocked, rusty gate and the lovely mossy stone fence. Besides, if one has a yard full of old olive trees, who needs walls…

6. Haunted house – Ronda
 

I am writing the heading without really having any scientific proof of the claim. This grand old house, located on the gravel road along the ridge leading to Virgen de la Cabeza, is said to be haunted. Our neighbour used to play tennis with the children living there half a century ago, which shows how quickly things fall into ruin when left to its own demise, or to graffiti artists and vandals for that matter. Anyhow, in my own far-too-developed imagination, this was a dancing establishment and members-only gambling club in the swinging 1920s and 30s. The word on the street is that it has been sold and that the new owner wants to build a hotel and luxury residences on the property. In other words, goodbye ghosts! Before this happens, I will chain myself to Villa Apollo to try to prevent them from tearing down this charming ruin.

5. Minimalist dream  – near Montejaque
 

This ruin just above the village of Montejaque may not be to everyone’s taste, but it certainly is one of my favourites, possibly THEE favourite. First, look at the dramatic setting with that sculpted cliff behind. Then there is the neighbourhood of course, wide open to interpretation. And finally, there is the structure itself, a minimalist dream. I say no more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Finca with visteria – Júzcar area

 

The beauty of this fixer-upper is how the visteria has completely taken charge of the place. The finca, including outhouses, sheds, stables and even bits and pieces of broken furniture, is in the vicinity of Júzcar, the bubble-gum-blue village where the Smurf movies where shot and where we are too old or too snobbish to enjoy going. The property is impossible to find, unless one balances over rivers and scrambles through thorny tracks. However, when we finally got there, we did notice some type of farm road coming in from the opposite direction and a live human being working on the nearby land.

3. Ruin with guard sheep – near Jimera de Libar
 

We are coming dangerously close to the top of the list, so these are all my favourite favourites. We have walked past this ruin several times, as it lays on the hiking trail between Estación de Benaoján and Jimera de Libar (thank goodness the Spanish like their names short…) The ruin has a lovely terracotta hue, which in itself grants special notice. But with the young lamb as a guard sheep, it certainly deserves this year’s bronze.

2. Concrete block with white mare – outskirts of Ronda
 

This ruin, merely 43 years old and not even a particularly modernist style, still gets the silver for this years’ fixer-upper count down and it is all due to the mare. I actually do not know if it is a mare, but she kind of looks that way with her tired eye. She is not feisty, but neither is the ruin. The scrolled forged iron sign gives the building a sort of Western cowboy feel and puts this fixer-upper in a class of its own. Whether the mare’s name is Jcona or that is the owner of the joint, I do not know, but if you happen to walk from Ronda to Montejaque, you will pass it right before you cross the river and start the upwards hike towards the ruin of the former Ronda brothel on the hill (The latter I am saving for the 2017 edition of the fixer-upper awards)

1. Farm with Roman grain tower  – outskirts of Ronda
 

This ruin is pure poetry. It is located in a twist in the sandy road leading from Ronda to Tajo del Abanico, before one gets onto the nature trail. It is also on what use to be the main transport road between Ronda and the coast of Gibraltar, we are talking centuries and centuries back. I have scores of pictures of this ruin, as I cannot pass it without taking another shot. The tallest part, or so we have been told, is the remnants of a Roman grain tower, as they used to grow grains, olives and grapes around Ronda some two thousand years ago. Although it looks beautiful as a ruin, one can only hope that the local authorities decide to protect and restore this priceless piece of history. The tower has been added to and built around in later years. Interestingly, the newer buildings are in a much poorer condition than the much older tower. Even if the towers have been fixed and mended through the years, but it still goes to show that the Romans built to last.

11. Mystery house – Ronda Tajo
 

Did I say it would be a countdown of ten? Well, like the BBC Escape to the Country TV program, I decided to add my mystery house, as well. Tagged on at the end, I will let it be a teaser for my next, but likely not last fixer-upper countdown. Ronda’s Tajo had about a dozen mills built into the steep cliff side, many which were used until just a couple of generations ago. Now overgrown by trees, roots and foliage, the mill-ruins are like jungle village beneath the town of Ronda. It is truly a hidden jewel, but do not try to find it on your own or you might have a very long fall in the process.

I leave you with another image, as a reminder that all starts and ends as dust. It is a rather humbling thought, bringing us closer to the ground as it were. While I am still in a relatively human form, I will keep photographing and sharing my favourite Andalucian fixer-uppers and ruins. Like my friend Ruby Silvious from New York, who just published her book 363 Days of Tea with her beautifully hand-painted daily teabags, maybe I should publish a book of My year of Andalucian Ruins?

In the meantime, stay tuned for the 2017 Edition of My Top Ten Andalucian Ruins

 

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