…is in Catalonia. Ronda, Andalusia is 1,000 km/650 miles and a world of difference away.
This is not a political post. Nor is it a comment upon what's happening in Barcelona, as we are in no way qualified to appraise Spain's political situation. What we can say is that life here in friendly, peaceful little Ronda in Andalusia is entirely unaffected by what is currently happening in Northern Spain. As we are all coming to know, the world's media has a tendency to sensationalise stories, scaremongering and reporting selectively (think back to the headlines leading up to the Brexit vote for instance), and it is disappointing to read international headlines that could be interpreted incorrectly. Gatherings, demonstrations and clashes with the police in Barcelona are in Barcelona, and are not occurring throughout the rest of Spain.
La Cazalla is still as peaceful and tranquil as it has been for hundreds, even thousands of years. In fact, sitting on our terrace, gazing at the view of the Tajo del Abanico, listening to the birds and the sheep bells, you can pretty much forget about the rest of the world altogether.
That’s not to say that we don’t have crises. Yesterday we were told that if we didn’t arrive half-an-hour early at Bar El Convento, one of our favourite spots in the increasingly popular area of Barrio San Francisco, then there would be no guarantee of getting a table. Now that is something to worry about! The weather at this time of year is such a problem too! The summer wardrobe has been put away and switched for the winter one, but it’s still sunny and warm during the day, with lunch enjoyed outside, making the daily decision of what to wear a conundrum. Yes, there are gatherings in Ronda. Mainly on the startling Puente Nuevo, where visitors gape at the stunning view and try their best to capture it on their smartphones.
Of course, it’s not all peace and quiet. Ronda positively bustles with life and the laid-back, fiesta-loving Andalusians are still going about their regular routines, 'starting' the day at 10am with a café cortado or con leche with churros or tomato and garlic tostadas. Whatever work or tasks that need doing are carried out with as much conviviality as possible - waving at friends and neighbours, honking car horns and stopping in the street for a chat. Ronda is really just a big village where everyone knows everyone else or is related to them in some way. Tapas at 2 pm is followed by a quick siesta before the last few chores are completed, then the working day is done and dinner with friends or family awaits.
In warm weather the plazas and parks are full of smartly-dressed families ‘promenading’ (that very European custom) and the outdoor bars and restaurants are lively and noisy. In colder weather we love the chance to experience the insides of the same bars and restaurants, perched on bar stools watching the jamon being carefully sliced and deciding what we should eat based upon the smells from the kitchen and the dishes being delivered past our noses. Not to mention the chance of lighting the open fire in the lounge of La Cazalla and spending cosy evenings curled up in front of it with a glass of local red. Hmmm... it can't be much longer to wait before we can justify that precious pleasure.
Whilst it's easy to leave the rest of the world behind, despite our mountain location we don't all have our heads in the clouds here ("estar en las nubes"). The local conversation does turn to the topic of Catalonia, but inevitably moves on quickly to matters closer to home: the due date of the hairdresser’s baby, for example ("una hija, Julia, qué bonita!”); the weather, always (qué calor!); and when is exactly the right moment to start picking this year’s olive crop…
So, if you are worrying about whether or not to come to Ronda, to Andalusia, then stop. Book your flights and come and visit this beautiful, lush, friendly region of Spain. Once you're here, you’ll be so glad you did.