I can’t say that it was a promising start. Malaga airport has maybe a dozen baggage carousels but only one of them seemed to be in use for the three flights that arrived around the same time as mine. This would have mattered more had my luggage been in any hurry to arrive from the hold.
Things quickly improved, though. As the bus headed east from Malaga and the roads got smaller and more hilly, the scenery also improved. Fewer Ikea’s and mobile phone stores and fast food restaurants, more white-wash and shady squares and hazy views back to the Mediterranean.
The bus dumped me near a building site — apparently the sewers were being replaced — but a few minutes uphill took me to a pleasant square and the hotel were I would be staying for the next week.
Canillas de Albaida has a population of only about seven hundred people and has the laid-back feel and community that you’d expect given that size. It’s nice to have total strangers say “Hola” as you pass; people actively avoid any eye contact in London.
It’s sat on the very edge of the Sierras De Tejeda Natural Park. The “natural” in Natural Park, incidentally, is not a typo. This region of Spain has decided to designate the area to be a park but this appellation is not recognised by the Spanish government and so cannot be called a National Park.
It didn’t take long to explore it fairly thoroughly. There’s the main square with the hotel and one of the three restaurants. Looking down over the town is the church of Santa Ana. To one side is the cemetery. And that’s about all. There are a couple of super-markets that are occasionally open, a pharmacy and hardware store that I didn’t visit but reportedly sells pretty much everything you can’t get at the other shops.
A thirty minute walk down a pleasant path was the “big” town, Competa. It’s all relative of course, as Competa only has a population of about four thousand.
The main feature of Competa is its square and church with a bell tower that at various points in its history has also been a minaret1. I was lucky to experience a couple of great sunsets over the church and an enormous ice-cream in a cafe in the square.
It’s a hard job but someone has to do it.
- Though perhaps not in its current form. It has fallen down and has been rebuilt a number of times over the centuries. [↩]