The pot cupboard

Capileira Travel Blog

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The Convent door

I stayed on in Granada for a couple of days as it was really so beautiful and I needed a day or two to rest.

As promised, I headed off yesterday morning with my sleeping bag in the hopes of giving it to a homeless person. I headed towards my little plaza where I had been having breakfast and no takers. I decided to walk around the ´block´and in doing so, I stumbled across a lovely old monastery. No nuns in sight and no open doors. I found a friendly Guardia Civil man (with typical flat top hat and gun) and he pointed me inthe direction of the main entry. I pushed open the large heavy wooden door and found a cool dark corridor with locked doors. To my right was another corridir so I walked to the end and tried the last door.

Granada - close to my pension
No go!.

To my left at waist height was a strange old wooden contraption. Straight away it reminded me of the pot cupboards my dad likes to build. They rotate like a lazy susan,  making it easy for mum to store find her pots. Since his first one back in the 60´s I believe Ikea has now stolen his concept!

This version was made from very old and dark weathered wood and also rotated in a circular motion. It was divided into quarters so you could only see two of the quarters at a time. Each of these cubicles had 2 shelves, maybe for food delivery to the poor?.

I pondered for a while and then noticed a small button on the wall beside it. I pressed hard, listening for resident sounds or for the nearby door to open. Nothing! I tried again and this time I heard a rustling behind the ´pot cupboard´followed by an old woman´s voice, presumably one of the nuns.

Chilling out in Granada
She spoke to me in typically fast Andalucian style Castillano! I had NO idea what the old nun was saying but I repied that I had ´un saco de dornir,  un regalo para ti´ (sleeping bag as a gift).

I placed it carefully in one of the slots and slowly pushed the ´pot cupboard´so it turned and the bag was out of sight. Moments later I heard the rustling of the plastic bag as she opened it to see what was inside. I said ´adios´and my good deed for the day was done.

I skipped back to the plaza for breakfast and wondered what would become of my bag . . .and what did the nuns use the ´pot cupboard´for?

The rest of the day was quite relaxing, walking through the almost car-less streets and lanes; observing life on a weekday in Spain at holiday time.

Granada fashion!
August is the month when most Europeans take vacations so some shops are closed up and the streets are filled with tourists.

With the ´crisis´in Spain at the moment, a lot of people have either stayed home or shortened their holidays to only 15 days. I get snippets about the ´crisis´from newspapers, TV and my Spanish friends. It is really quite bad at the moment and many of the construction companies are going into receivership as they over-committed. Many people are out of work and the prices of food (especially basics like milk and flour) are skyrocketing. Is this the preview of things to come globally?

In spite of this the Spanish are very positive and always put their family and local community first. I am getting quite a good view of life on a day to day basis now and I still love the way entire families will go out for dinner (any night of the week) or just walk around the nearby streets together laughing and talking, rather than glued to the TV in separate rooms of the house.

The 'white villages' in the Alpujarras
Even the babies and tots are included and are often up late until midnight with no-one batting an eyelid. I suppose that is a great way to get them to sleep in!

Will my friends please remind me to go out for more walks and spend more time with my ´family´when I get back!

Today I was up with the larks and on the bus up into the Sierra Nevada range of mountains. It is the last range before you hit the South coast of Spain and although quite dry in places, there are some wonderful native parks and reserves and walking is very popular at this time of the year. The trip was quite slow as the bus had to navigate steep winding roads zig-zagging up the sides of the ranges. About 20km from my destination, I could see a string of what the locals call ´white villages´. All the houses hug the hills, one on top of the other, and they are all white washed and cubic in shape.

Capileira - whitewashed houses
It is quite spectacular and I enjoyed watching them get closer and closer until my final destination, Capileira.

These little peublos are heavily touristed and the local people have maintained ancient crafts as a way of earning enough money to keep living in the mountains. One of the most interesting crafts is weaving. They have a unique method of creating rugs from brightly coloured rags. They originally used actual rags but now women use bundles of brightly coloured cotton. Proudly displayed on large wooden racks out the front of stores, they form a rainbow-bright stripey contrast to the cute whitewashed houses. Although surprisingly cheap the rugs are totally unsuitable to load into my pack so photos will have to do!

Other significant handcrafts are basket weaving and ironwork.

Artesan crafts in Capileira - rugs
I am hoping to find some actual activity later on, when the shutters come up after siesta. The place has been like a ghost town since 2.00pm.

I think I was the only person out on the streets and (stupidly!) decided to take the dusty mountain track to the next village, Bubión. It was only a 30 minute walk but it was very hot (35C at least) and the sun reflected from the white chalky earth as well. I felt like I was back in Extremedura on the Camino again. It was worth the walk though as the little pueblo was darling and I had fun just wandering and trying to get lost.

The houses in these pueblos are built like rabbit warrens and overflow from one to the next. They are often joined by shady tunnels or have big overhanging verandas or second storey walkways joining two houses.

Typical whitewashed houses
Absolutely everything is whitewashed! It is difficult to explain the sensation as you walk these tight little pedestrian paths all gleaming white. These steep cobbled paths are built from stones which have become glassy smooth with centuries of use - they must be treacherous in the winter with ice and snow. 

Not much sign of life except the odd friendly cat or dog and a parrot calling out ´guapo´(handsome) with great excitement as I walked  under his balcony.

I hastily returned after filling my water bottle from one of the numerous fuentes (local fountains) in Bubión. Back in Capileira I took a shower and then did the ´fountain walk´which travels around the pueblo like a game of snakes and ladders; ultimately tracking down the twelve local fuentes. It was great fun, although still incredibly hot and I seemed to be quite a spectacle for those under the shelter of verandas and shady bar terraces.

During my overnight stay here I will make the most of the culture. Tomorrow I have a 3-bus journey to Almeria on the coast (all going well).

WOW (Words of Wisdom) - If you have nothing to do, go and clean out the pot cupboard - maybe there is something you could donate to a local charity (very tongue in cheek)

Besos, Grace

filgrim09 says:
You're very lucky to have these wonderful experiences to treasure through life. I hope to experience the Via' next MArch. More power to on your continuing journey. God Bless. - (Ramon N.)
Posted on: Aug 24, 2008
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The Convent door
The Convent door
Granada - close to my pension
Granada - close to my pension
Chilling out in Granada
Chilling out in Granada
Granada fashion!
Granada fashion!
The white villages in the Alpuja…
The 'white villages' in the Alpuj…
Capileira - whitewashed houses
Capileira - whitewashed houses
Artesan crafts in Capileira - rugs
Artesan crafts in Capileira - rugs
Typical whitewashed houses
Typical whitewashed houses
Capileira
photo by: Chokk