Fall has definitively arrived in Ronda. Not with the gloomy darkness, wind-bursts and incessant rains of more northern climates, but with dramatically skies, sudden downpours, mystical mists and spectacular rainbows. It is autumn all right even on the southern tip of Spain.
By November, the steady pour of visitors flocking across Ronda’s famous Puente Nuevo has thinned to a trickling handful. Only the bold and the foolish (tourists and smokers) occupy the seats outside the bars, braving the elements. Most have left their flip-flops and tank tops at the coast, though there is always one skimpily clad ‘forever young’ Northerner who insists on wearing cut-off jeans to show off their goose bumps, regardless of the time of year. Seasonal dyslexia is clearly not only a teenage phenomenon…
After the hot summer months, fall in the Serranía de Ronda offers a most-needed nature revival. Fields that have been dry since June are once more sprouting a delicate layer of green. Most trees in the area, be it olives, pines, citrus, oaks, cork or fig trees, keep their leaves throughout the winter.
The mighty chestnut trees, however, turn golden and rusty, making for a visual spectacle worth a trip in itself. November is the season for local delicacies such as roasted chestnuts and wild mushrooms, which is the cause for many a village festivity. Around the countryside, soups and stews are percolating with root vegetables and meaty bits, such as callos (tripe), a local favourite. The pomegranates are at their reddest and the local nunneries are busy making membrillo, or quince jam and sweets for the holiday-season to come – though thankfully rarely uttered yet.
Though we are a mere five weeks way from Christmas, not a single store in town has put up decorations, nor have we heard a Christmas carol, which I am utterly grateful for. This way, one might even appreciate hearing the carols during their rightful seasons, since they have not been played ‘ad nauseam’ for months.
By now, temperatures have dropped to the low teens, making locals exclaim “Que frío!”, as they seek shelter in another tapas bar. People order their coffees and tinto (red wine) without ice and warm their fingers on deep-fried churros dipped in hot chocolate. Rondeñians, male and female alike, seem to favour the hunter and equestrian-style fashion. Both hunting and riding are admittedly traditional and common to this area, though riding-boots and hunting jackets are just as likely worn by those who have never held a gun or sat on a horse.
Be as it may, their outfits make for a rather stylish Sunday family promenade, another Andalucian favoured past time.