written 15th february
From the video in the information centre, it looks like the lake is a natural aquifer lagoon and a pretty amazing sight in the right season (presumably summer) when it is full-on flamingo season. And, we have found that the word for flamingo is flamenco so it is flamingo dancing after all! :)
Just a musing on some other words, as we are on the subject of words, we have found out that the spanish word for senior citizen seem to be Jubilados, which i think is rather nice, but I noticed the word for disabled on parking spaces is minusvalus - which I was working myself into indignant outrage on behalf of disabled people who do absolutely have value, until Will pointed out that our word invalid - in-valid - is the same - I had never read it like that before - outrageous isn't it!
Anyway, I digress.
The flamingo lake also had maps of other local national parks and we saw a picture of some fanastic looking stacked rocks, less than a hundred or so k's south (so in exactly the wrong direction, back east across from the morning's lake but hey ho, we have time today) so off we set, in the nice sunday afternoon sunshine, across the plains towards El Torcal, just south of Antequera, towards the Mountains of Malaga.
All was well, if a bit lowering cloud, until we rounded the side of the mountain and turned up the actual road to the El Torcal park and hit a wall of cloud, which just kept going. We could just about see some shadowy rock shapes next to us and when we got to the visitor centre, we found it closed for refurbishment and a few other cars and motorhomes in the same predicament.
Apparently this is the only place in Europe where there are these particular types of rock formations, so glad we went, but another one to come back for another time!
We have also finally fished out the 1001 places book again, for the first time since Portugal, and have discovered that we have missed Arcos de la Frontera, west of Ronda, just south of Jerez, which is apparently one of the most spectacular moorish walled cities in Spain, built in a natural amphitheatre over looking a valley. Oh well, one for the rest of you Bill, Brian and Eric. Maybe we'll be back.
we looked back and could see the clouds spilling up over the mountains to the south and rolling down the northside - pretty spectacular but we are definitely heading in the right direction now!
We did manage to get up this morning (I know, who'd have thought!) and did indeed get into the Mezquita for free at 9am. And it was well worth the 200km detour we have taken to get here en route from Ronda to Granada.
The site has been a place of worship since the visigoths built their christian Church of San Vincente here in the 6th century. When the Moors kicked them out, they built their mosque on the site. At that time, Cordoba was the muslim capital of Al-Andalus and Europe's largest city, and the mosque, started in 785, was enlarged and elaborated in three phases between the 8th-10th centuries and has been described as the greatest visual representation of homesickness ever constructed. When the christians reconquered Granada in 1236 they fortunately kept most of the building but reconsecrated it to prove their absolute dominion over the muslims and in the 16th century set about building a cathedral in the middle and chapels round the edge. And it is awesome.
Granada next - another moorish palace - and one I am really looking forward to. We have heard all sorts of things about Granada, unfortunately many of them focusing on break-ins and car crime and the like, and have been warned off the main Alhambra carpark especially, so in the hope of secure parking, wifi, and a proper shower for a change, we forearmed ourselves with the details of two campsites and steeled ourselves to accept the €25 per night fees, in exhange for an unvandalised car. Unfortunately though, the best laid plans of mice and men do not always come to fruition.
After a pleasant drive south - again, fuel conserving motorway - littered with castles on hills and past olive groves and olive oil plants where you can probably stop and buy some straight out of the press in the right season, we came to the outskirts of Granada - and our first view for ages of proper snow capped mountains! - and set about finding the cheaper of the two campsites. Which turned out to be under the motorway, semi-flooded and despite three other motorhomes being parked up, completely deserted with wide open gates. We hung around for long enough to find that the promised wifi was locked before deciding that if it wasn't going to provide us with a good night's sleep, free wifi and more importantly a secure parking place, we had better things to do with our money and set off into town.
Thence ensued the usual seven circles of hell of a new town, road works, diversions, restricted roads, lack of signs, traffic clogged misery. We did find the tourist office and eventually the other campsite - one useless, one closed - and have now resorted to pointing ourselves as upwards as possible, to Sacromonte, in the hope of somewhere quiet to stop for a cup of tea and some chocolate to calm our frayed nerves....