A friend of ours runs an eco-tourism business. He's incredibly knowledgeable about nature, wildlife and birds and his guided tours combine education and information with photography, walking and birds. (Do check out the website - all the photos are by Juan Carlos - he's an incredible wildlife photographer!)
He often takes the school children on local rambles and they return with plants and notes and full of enthusiasm. Romy is really good friends with his son - they love playing together and Romy often spends weekends with the family even though she's now at another school.
I got a message last week from his wife to say that there would be a day trip to El Torcal near Antequera, which is inland Malaga. This is a natural park, formed by incredible rocks which rose up from the seabed many millions of years ago and which have eroded into weird and wonderful shapes, and showing the many distinct layers that went into creating them. Mateo went on a school trip there a few years ago and was deeply impressed, so we decided we should take the opportunity for a guided tour and go all together.
I booked our 5 seats and we made sure all homework and tasks were completed on Saturday and the packed lunches were made and ready to take - we had an early start on Sunday morning.
The weather forecast was poor...without doubt we were going to get some rain, but we were prepared for that and the trip set off in good spirits (- but without our guide's children and wife...by the time Tere had told everyone about the trip, she discovered all the seats were booked and there was no space left for her and the children! However, they'd been many times before so it wasn't the end of the world.)
Our first stop was to view some Dolmens, which were located just outside Antequera...next to an industrial estate, actually. Apparently, until around 10 years ago, these incredible relics were just part of the landscape, unmanaged or monitored and people could access them however and whenever they wanted. Now, there's a car park, the area is fenced and kept natural and there's a good visitor centre where you can see an informative video about how the Dolmens were possibly built. And then, you can actually go into them!
Despite being open to all and sundry all this time, there was no graffiti or obvious vandalism anywhere at all - apart from a few crosses carved into the entrance of one of them - but these had possibly been there for a good thousand years or so...
The first, discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, around 4000 years after its creation, faces east as is customary for dolmens. It's a long corridor-shaped dolmen with a small chamber at one end. Twice a year, at the Summer and Winter Solstice, the sun shines directly along this corridor to reach the chamber at the end. The stones, despite their huge size, fit carefully together...goodness knows how this was achieved.
|Surrounded by wild flowers.|
The second dolmen we visited, known as the Dolmen of Menga, is actually considered to be the largest structure of its type in Europe and is definitely impressive.
When it was discovered in the 19th century, many hundreds of skeletons were discovered inside.
What makes this more interesting is that instead of facing east, as dolmens usually do, it faces directly towards a most fascinating geological feature of the landscape. Check out the photo below and then look at the closer version that I managed to get..as the clouds and the rain began to close in on us!
|Observe the large mountain in the middle of the photo - then look at it again in the next photo....|
|Does it not look rather like someone's profile? Mother Earth asleep, perhaps?|
|Entrance to the Dolmen...big stones!|
|Inside - 25 metres long.|
|More big stones....|
|View of Mother Earth rock from the entrance.|
And as we emerged from the tomb, it began to rain....
|The flowers smelt amazing|
|Umbrellas went up - the skies darkened.|
|And were delightful to look at.|