Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Two Weeks in Niguelas Part II - Exit 157
In Niguelas I you read of my alarm as we made our way to our holiday destination. Here's what it felt like as we got closer.
Niguelas II - Exit 157
It was Saturday afternoon. I read out loud the instructions which gave us directions to our cottage and additionally informed us that, as local supermarkets would be closed on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, we might be best to stock up at the 24/7 Carrefours on the Granada ring-road.
We drove on, desperately hoping to find a small SuperMarche before we arrived at our destination. Our cupboard was bare. We’d decided against stocking up at Ronda confident that Niguelas would be open for business. We'd failed to read the instructions our helpful hosts had provided. We'd missed our opportunity.
Exit 157 (Durcal, Niguelas) was our point of departure from the motorway and as we crested another gentle rise we spied what we assumed was Niguelas spread over the lower slopes of a barren Sierra Nevada. To be positive it did look look more like a village than a blot on the landscape and it was a discrete distance from its nearest neighbour, Durcal.
Exit 157 led us to a roundabout which I found on our hand drawn map emailed to us by Adam our local contact. He had advised us of a preferred and a non preferred approach to our accommodation, Casa Los Almedros. It looked simple.
We followed the signs to Niguelas as directed on the the map. My job was to read these written instructions aloud to Mick, who was driving, while the wives in the back kept an eagle eye out for landmarks. They also provided sound effects with shrieks of alarm whenever another car approached or when a stone wall appeared to be about to enter the car through the window. The road into the village led us up a long narrow tree lined avenue towards the centre of the village marked by the squat church bell tower.
All should have been simple were it not for the ‘Diversio’ sign placed across the road where the first white-painted buildings marked the entrance to the village. Past the blockade the street appeared to have been torn apart and was in the process of being repaved. Silent machinery lay scattered ahead of us.
The diversion sent us across a dirt track south of the village past a group of oversize rubbish receptacles, by disused farm machinery and through a run down orchard. The dusty lane headed west then cut north sharply back towards the village. Suddenly we were in a series of laneways large enough for one car with each laneway sending us in a new direction and each ending in another detour sign. The girls in the back were beginning to lose confidence in both our navigational and our driving skills as we headed for a T junction requiring us to fold both side rear view mirrors back and creep through at snails pace giving everyone the opportunity to observe the deep gashes in the concrete wall beside us, the result of foolhardy drivers before us.
The next arrow took us along a 250 metre stretch of dirt alongside what looked like a post war bomb site. Pipes lay exposed, strips of concrete led nowhere, ditches ran in random directions and the whole area was fenced off by two metre high wire fencing and a rough besser brick wall which had been laid by a drunk. At the end of this we turned north again to face the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and came to a road running east west across the top of the village. Our mud map now told us we were nearing our target and, unable to decipher the final instructions leant out the window to enquire of an aged local where Casa Los Almendros might be hiding.
He seemed to understand my question but being a bit doddery obviously didn’t interpret my sign language as clearly as I had offered them as he swept his arm left and right in a vague expansive way. Naturally we dismissed him as of no help to us and returned to our map. There we found another street marked – Calle Marie which we discovered we had parked in. We were then able to conclude that the house right beside us was our destination and then to our embarrassment realized that Casa Los Almendros referred, in fact, to the name of the whole street. Our aged advisor had known exactly what he was talking about.
We backed the car up the ramp leading to the cottage, turned off the engine and sat slumped into our seats, exhaausted by our five hour ordeal.
To say that our introduction had been less than inspiring would be an understatement.