Alpujarras with Pilu (1st Part)

Pilu is my little dog. When I say little, I really mean little. She is only 4 kilos. And she is also blind since her birth (take a minute to think: “ooooooooh”). But even with her small size, it is really difficult to find places to go with her. Normally hotels and apartments are not dog friendly, but two years ago I discovered a site in Alpujarras (Granada) where she was welcome not only in the camping area, also in the bungalows. That was the reason why I chose to go to the Alpujarras. Well, I must confess also that I always wanted to know the place where Aben Humeya and the Moorish population started a rebellion against King Phillip 2nd in the 16th century.

The site is Camping Orgiva. It has a swimming pool, the bungalows are really comfortable, views of the hills are gorgeous, and it is one of the cheapest campings I know. I would recommend it to anyone, specially to those who travel with pets.

The day after arriving to the camping we decide to go to the famous Poqueira Valley where the most famous towns of Alpujarras. Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira are, along the river Poqueira, embedded in the mountains. First thing you need to know about the place: If you are easy to feel nauseated you will for sure. The road is a series of closed curves again and again.

In Pampaneira we could see the traditional houses with the typical chimneys and the flat roofs. The chimneys made me recall fairies and other magical creatures as they look like small leprechauns or witches with their hats. The roofs, according the receptionist in Camping Orgiva, are flat to permit the moriscos escape through them in case the Christian guards were trying to catch them. Moreover, the labyrinth that the streets compound were also a good way to make their enemies impossible to find them.

When walking through the narrow streets you can also see other traditional structures like the washing place and all around there are a lot of handicraft workshops inside of the houses. Many of them have been opened by foreign people and it made the town came to life. I suppose many customers are tourist and like a regular tourist, I was trying to find a place to buy a jarapa but I could not. The receptionist also told me that the majority of jarapas are actually from Morocco and produced in an industrial process, and for that reason I was never sure where to buy it. So, we decided to give a try to Bubion.

Once in Bubion it was lunch time and shops were closed. So I forgot about jarapas, as I was very hungry. Some time later I discover through the internet that in Bubion there is a traditional handicraft shop where a woman does jarapas. Luckily in her website there is a shop online!

We stop in La Artesa to eat. Bubion is the smallest town in Poqueira and it was not so full of people like Pampaneira or Capileira, so it was amazing to enjoy the silence of the mountains. We tried the typical plato alpujarreño which is basically pork meat (chorizo, morcilla, ham, loin), with potatoes and fried egg. A glorious big ammount of cholesterol in blood that I remember I really enjoyed it. Except for morcilla because I do not like it since I ate a lot of it when I was a child and I got sick on one ocassion.

We wanted to visit Capileira after lunch in Bubion, but there was no spaces. After driving all around we found a place, but a rude waiter from a bar said to us we could not park there. No reasons where given and there was no signal of it being a restricted area. We continued driving a little bit to find a place and to our surprise, we found that free place occupied by another car! So we get angry and decided to leave the town quickly. Now I think of this and I still ask myself what was the reason why the waiter did not permit us to park there.

In general, the towns around the river Poqueira are beautiful and well deserve a visit, maybe not during summer as they are a little bit overcrowded. These places are nowadays very touristic. Even more, many people from foreign countries are living now there. On the one hand, this gentrification made these towns came to life; On the other hand, they have lost a little bit of their identity. I am sure that there are positive consequences of tourism and the new population and I cannot judge the gentrification process in Poqueira taking into account that I only visited once, and just for a day. But there was something I could feel in the air that I did not like it: Everything was really beautiful but this beauty was like an artificial scenery.

Finally, a shot assessment about the names. Did you realize that the majority of the names finish with the morpheme -eira? The explanation given by many locals is that during the so called Reconquest, many people from Galicia started to live in the Alpujarras. As the morpheme -eira is very common in the Galician language those towns finally were called in that way: Pampaneira, Capileira, Poqueira… Curiously, nobody could tell us what were the names before the Galician settle. I found a response in the library of the camping. According to the PhD thesis by Jordi Sempere i Roig “The impact of tourism in the Poqueira’s Valley”, this morpheme comes from the Andalusian Romance. In Latin, the morpheme is -aira, but in Andalusia the most frequent vowel was the -e. So -aira in Andalusia was -eira. If we follow this thesis, the names come from the places themselves and not from Galicia.

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