Saturday, 29 June 2013

From Emmerdale to Ardales

Ardales, a short drive from El Chorro, is a small town sprawling on the hills around a church that traces its history back to the 16th century. It is guarded by the remains of a historic Ardales castle, built by none other than that ancient anarchist and rowdy rebel Umar ibn Hafsun.

The roots of the villages go back a looooong time. The name, originally Ard-Allah, God's gardens, dates back to Moorish times. The church is the focal point of this town and its tower is visible form everywhere in the village. Originally the site hosted a mosque and the church tower, made of glazed tiles glistening in the sun in glorious shades of blue and green, is actually the minaret from the old mosque.

The Gentleman has a house in Yorkshire in the middle of those breathtakingly beautiful farmlands of Dales. Ardales isn't too far behind either...


A couple of kilometres away there's a cave that was discovered in 1821 after an earthquake in the region. Other than that there isn't anything terribly unique about this village that would set it apart from the other white villages scattered all over Andalusian hills.

But on the other hand... that's exactly where the charm of these places lays . Time seems to stand still. Old men gather in the parks and in the shades of terraces, playing cards and putting the world to right - just as they've always done.

Yet the atmosphere is full of life that is transported onto the narrow streets in the sounds and scents flowing from the open windows and doors, for a moment pulling the passer-by into the lives of their residents. At Garcias little Antonio should go wash his hands; at Gils someone should let the dog out. Gonzaleses are having a laundry day and at Hernandezes abuela is cooking... oooh - seems like it's albondigas for supper tonight! 

And though these are exactly the kind of places one would expect to be insular and treat "outsiders" with suspicion, that is not the case. In a way that my Finnish mentality finds peculiar - though for The Gentleman it's the most natural thing in the world - these are the places where even strangers are greeted with a warm smile. Buenas dias for you, too, mis amigos!

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