The ground was still showing signs of frost as we climbed the hills around Alcala la Real towards Montefrio, which lies to the south-west of where we live now. Looking back towards Alcala, mist hung in the valleys and the olive groves were covered in a gentle haze.
There are a lot of olive groves - many more than 14 years ago as there has been a lot of european money invested here. It has its drawbacks as much of the indigenous forest has been cleared away and the wonderful patchwork effect of seeing the olive groves in combination with fallow fields and other crops has disappeared completely - it's now olives as far as the eye can see. Stricter laws have now come into being and farmers are not allowed to take down other types of trees in order to plant olives.
It's the harvesting season just now and although you can't easily see anyone picking olives, if you stop and listen, you can hear voices and the odd tractor sound echoing across the valleys. It was wonderfully peaceful up on the top of the hills although after half an hour of winding roads, I was ready to stop - I am not the travel-sick type so I think it was being in the Volvo that did it.... still haven't learnt to love it.
Montefrio, as we approached it from around a corner was absolutely breathtaking! A huge church on top of a rocky outcrop was the first thing that we saw, then as we looked across the village, there was another enormous church which at first we took to be a mezquita, but turned out to be fashioned on the domed cathedral in Agippe in Rome. And to the other edge of the town, yet another cathedral sized church.
I have some wonderful photos to post but at the moment, I don't have access to them. To make a small 'detour' - we are awaiting telefonica to come and sort us out with telephone and internet. Or should I say we are still waiting as the man came on Friday and hummed and hah-ed and then went away without doing anything. He might come back - we don't know.
Anyway, I had wonderful photos of Montefrio, which I will post when I have access to them and the internet at the same time.
We bought 5 litres of olive oil as near to its source as it's possible to get! Then on our way home, feeling a bit peckish, we stopped at a little roadside bar and ordered a couple of drinks. I was seriously hoping for a a little free tapa to go with it, but my jaw must have dropped (I certainly started drooling) when a huge plate of food was placed in front of us. Thin slices of fresh pork hotly fried and placed dripping onto crusty bread together with .. I was going to say 'chips' but they weren't just that, they really were 'patatas fritas' (or fried potatoes) of the most delicious type imaginable. That 'little' free tapa will stay in my memory for a long time.
And then we drove happily home over the olive grove roads til we saw the now familiar sight of 'La Mota' of Acala la Real, on its own hill, but down in the valley below us.