Grab Your Freebie Today!

Well, I don’t know how many of you are into novel-reading. But for those of you who actually read in this day and age of video consoles and computer games hehe, my first two novels are up!

And what’s more, today and tomorrow only, you can catch one of them completely FREE on Amazon.

Here’s a bit more info.

IN THE PRISON OF OUR GRIEF (FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon)

 

In the Prison of our Grief - S.E. Amadis

A harsh prison in England.

The grisly, tragic murder of three babies.

The murderess is on the loose… And Carrie Anne’s made friends with her.

Will she be able to find out the truth in time? Or will she become this sadistic murderess’ next victim?

Once again, Carrie Anne finds herself in the centre of another terrifying ordeal…

In this exciting sequel to Patricia, we follow seventeen-year-old Carrie Anne Houghton and her new comrades-in-arms in a whirling, dizzying, action-packed adventure that spans two continents, from the glitzy high-rises of New York City to the lonely expanses of rural Canada to the glamour and colour of Mediterranean tourist resorts.

Persecution, murder, lies and deceit. Traps, stormy Gothic settings, abandoned mansions and secret passageways. All of this comes to vivid life in the pages of In the Prison of our Grief.

An action-packed adventure thriller featuring a strong female protagonist and a quirky male counterpart. This book can be read as a stand-alone.

You can download it WITHOUT PAYING A SINGLE CENT, from:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

PATRICIA (Book One)

Patricia - S.E. Amadis

A Gothic thriller that takes place within the claustrophobic confines of a remote and isolated boarding school.

There’s something dangerous and menacing about Patricia. None of the schoolchildren are safe when Patricia is around. But only geeky, sweet and innocent Carrie Anne Houghton, who had once been held prisoner and tortured by Patricia, knows that, making her the only one who can stop Patricia.

But Patricia is far more dangerous and sinister than even Carrie Anne realizes. Carrie Anne has no idea who – or what – Patricia really is… or what Patricia is truly capable of.

Now Carrie Anne’s chilling ordeal, one she had escaped from years before, will begin all over again. This time, will she make it out alive? And if she does, how will she ever be able to protect the people that she loves?

In this harsh and pitiless coming-of-age story, Carrie Anne Houghton, once a goodie-two-shoes straight-A student who had always done what people told her to, decides to embark upon the bitter road to becoming a vengeful vigilante, never suspecting that along the way she will lose her innocence, her youth, her freedom and her humanity, and turn into a furious, raging monster that even she can’t recognize anymore.

Even if she does survive Patricia’s relentless torture, after all the cruel acts of revenge she herself has carried out, how will she ever be able to find redemption and look herself in the eyes again?

And how will she ever feel worthy of the man that she loves?

You can buy this book from Amazon too:

At Amazon.com
Or Amazon.co.uk

You will need a Kindle to be able to read these books. But if you haven’t got one, you can download a free Kindle app for your computer, Android phone or iPhone from Amazon, here.

I’m also working on getting a physical book out, for those of you old-fashioned types who delight in black words printed on white paper to read in your bed at night. But that will take me a little while.

And if you LURRVE these books (or even if you don’t), please don’t forget to LEAVE ME A REVIEW up on Amazon! I’d also feel real chuffed if you’d leave me a comment here, telling me about it.

Enjoy!

May We Be Seven Billion

Candles

I run a professional website, and every time I send out a newsletter against terrorism I get a few unsubscribes. Maybe these ex-subscribers simply wanted to only receive newsletters strictly related to the theme of the website.

Or maybe it’s just coincidence. Although I very rarely get unsubscribes on newsletters with new articles related to the theme of the website haha.

But at any rate, I also feel that, even if perhaps it’s not the safest way to live, we still have to take a stand about things in the world, and stick to our guns about whatever stand we’ve chosen. And not shut up about it.

Someone – I don’t remember who but perhaps it was Winston Churchill? – once said that the only thing that is needed for evil to triumph is if a few good men stand by and do nothing.

I DO believe in peace, and in striving for peace. But I’m also one of those who believes that in the world that we live in, sometimes we have to fight to get that peace. Sitting around and praying alone is not enough (although, of course, it’s also necessary and helps a lot hehe).

On a different subject, I’m very excited because soon I’m about to reveal some news which is very very exciting (at least for ME haha). So stay tuned for that!

So, as I said at the beginning of this post, may we be over seven billion to spread the light of good and peace, kindness, respect and above all, tolerance, around the world and fight back the evil of terrorism.

And also Happy Chanukah!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Sierra Nevada, Granada

Spanish Beaches

Praying For Paris

Hi all! Nope, no new post or article today. I’ve been working on some new, all-encompassing projects lately that have been taking up all my time.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard or read about the terrible, horrible atrocities that have taken place in Paris these last few days.

I’ve been to Paris a few times and it’s one of my three most fave cities in all the world. I’ve even dreamt of going to live there sometimes – if I were ever able to tear myself away from my beloved tropical paradise, that is!

I find it hard to understand that daesh can possibly believe that anyone can garner support and sympathy for their cause by killing beautiful, innocent people. Wantonly, senselessly and in cold blood.

The only thing they can accomplish with their acts of cowardice is to make the good of the world unite even more strongly than before against them.

It seems a complete irony to me that daesh consider themselves to be the righteous and the good of the world, while they look upon those who oppose them to be evil and the damned.

Don’t they understand that it is in fact those who kill, especially in cold blood, who are truly the damned ones carrying out acts of evil?

Another thing that saddens me is that events like this only serve to increase senseless hatred and racism towards people of Arab origin all around the world.

So please, don’t be a racist. Think that probably every single person you know or encounter on the street of Arab origin is probably just a normal, loving person like you. With his dreams, desires, aspirations. Someone who only wants to be happy in life, be with his loved ones, have a good time. Just like you.

It’s not exactly their fault that they sport Arab features, have ancestors that hail from the Middle East or possess last names like Mohammed or Suleiman. They didn’t exactly choose their appearance, ancestors or last names.

Now, I’m not saying that there are no terrorists of Arab origin in the world. But these are probably, like, 0,0000001% of all people of Arab origin in the world. And there are also White terrorists in the world, and is everyone now going to throw stones at every White person that they meet just because there are also White terrorists in the world as well? Of course not.

But unfortunately, racism is just an example of yet another scourge in our world. And daesh seem to be doing all that they can to increase and inspire more racism in the world.

On another note, I can’t imagine saying good-bye to my loved ones one night while they go out for a night out on the town in such a SAFE city as Paris, on their way to a rock concert or dinner out at a restaurant, as I’m sure we’ve ALL done so many times before in our lives. And then finding out within a few hours that our loved ones are no more. That we will never see them again.

The only thing I can say is to remind everyone (including myself) of how precious life is. And how we have to treasure and make the most of the time we have with the people that we love. Because we never know how much time we have left together.

As I said, no new article today. Merely a note to let you know that my heart, thoughts and prayers are with all of you affected by the tragedy in Paris, which, obviously, should NEVER have occurred.

And as I always say to Subscribers on my website,
Remember to live your dreams today!

Remember ALWAYS, and even MORE so in these times, that LOVE is the strongest force in the universe.

LOVE is stronger than bombs, or guns, or swords.

And those who are moved by LOVE will ALWAYS win, in the long run, over those who are motivated by hatred, bigotry, scorn or disdain or intolerance.

And since they always say, the way to fight hatred and intolerance in the world is with BEAUTY and LOVE, here are some images of BEAUTY to fight terror and hatred with:

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Stronger Than Steel / Plus Fort Que L’Épée

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Just a Short & Silly Post

Best Friends

Today I was sitting around thinking about my good friend in Madrid, let’s call her Lana (not her real name). For years, when I lived in Madrid, we were inseparable.

Inseparable Friends Peace Sign

Lana and I are still in touch. But it’s not the same anymore.

When I lived in Madrid and she was single, she was a real rebel. Heavy metallist, rebellious, anti-conventionality. It’s ironic that now she follows all the conventions and all the things that people expect of her.

We met in the choir. Both of us sang in a choir. We hit it off right away and soon became fast friends.

We were both wild and rebellious, both of us a lot in character like George of the Famous Five, except we had – and still continue to proudly sport – long hair. The difference between us is that whereas I’m quite shy and diffident around people, especially people I don’t know well, Lana is very talkative.

I thought about all the things we’d done together, so many fun experiences we’d shared. Going home one night after a night out clubbing, at 3 in the morning, we decided to start howling like a bunch of cats in heat, waking up the neighbours.

Going to visit an apiary, that is, a bee farm, with a friend of hers. On a hiking trip to observe vultures. Like me, at that time she was very much into hiking, and we often went on hikes together.

Climbing into a water ride at the amusement park one hot summer day, two mischievous little urchins in the same boat with us thought it would be fun to throw water at us. We threw water back, and soon it was all we were doing the whole ride long. We went on that ride I think it was about eleven times with those same two mischievous urchins and had a blast.

Another time we went to a field that was off limits. One of those private properties where trespassing is forbidden. There was a very high fence around it to prevent people from jumping in. We wanted to play in that field. Not because we especially wanted to play in a field – although we did, and it was a very large field – but mainly because it WAS forbidden. On that occasion we went with our friend, the boy I would one day marry haha.

We were absolutely DETERMINED to get into that field come hell or high water. My boyfriend gave us a boost up onto the top of the wire fence. We reached down and pulled him up. So far, excellent.

The problem came when we went to jump down. The shirt I was wearing got snagged on the fence, ripping off half the hem when I jumped down. Unphased, we continued into the field and carried on playing. I don’t remember what we were playing now. Some kind of ball game, maybe?

When we tired of playing and it was time to climb out, this time it was Lana who got snagged on the sharp, poking-out wires of the fence. In her case, it was her jeans. The wire poked a hole in her jeans. However, jeans are sturdier than shirts, and neither was she able to rip herself off the fence, nor could she disengage herself or unhook her jeans from the wire.

She couldn’t simply jump or pull herself down, because then the wire would have gouged into her skin. In the end, we don’t know what she did, but she had to extricate herself from the wire all by herself because we couldn’t get back up again.

I remember one hiking trip in particular. We planned to go with a good friend of hers, Elena. In those days Lana had the bad habit of always arriving very, very late. This was in those times before mobile phones.

Anyways, we were going to meet up at Chamartin train station. Elena arrived, and we started spinning about the station in search of Lana. Aware of her tendency to arrive late, we didn’t give up when she still hadn’t shown her face after we’d been combing the station for a long time.

At last, we both saw her get off the escalators looking like a scarecrow, with wild eyes and swivelling her head in all directions. It was so late, she was convinced that Elena and I for sure must have taken off without her. Of course, being loyal friends, we hadn’t. We grabbed a train to some mountains north of Madrid, whose name I’ve now forgotten. But they are well-known and people often go hiking there. Gredos, I think.

There were a lot of people on the same trail we were on. We walked to the end of the trail, where lots of people had set things up and were playing, eating and just generally having a good time. I believe there was a lake there as well. All of a sudden it started to rain – one of those unexpected, unpredictable mountain storms. All the people started taking off down the trail.

It was quite a long trail. We were perhaps halfway down the trail, when Lana suddenly realized that she had forgotten something in the clearing where we had been playing. We had to trek all the way back, in the rain, to retrieve the lost object. This time when we turned around to go back, the mountain was completely deserted.

After what seemed a veritable odyssey, we finally straggled back into town. We were starving. We had packed a picnic and we wanted to eat. But of course, there was no way we could have a picnic in the rain. We didn’t know where to go.

At that point, we noticed a building that was in construction. It was halfway built. It had floors and stairways, sustaining columns. And most importantly, it had a roof!! That was all that mattered to us! Within seconds, we were rushing up the stairs to the second floor (for greater privacy haha). We plunked down onto the floor, relieved to finally find shelter from the cold rain after what must have been hours, and enjoyed our picnic with numb, blue fingers. It was just a silly thing, perhaps, but I remember we didn’t stop joking and laughing all the way.

With Lana I travelled to Granada, Cuenca, the Alpujarra, Morocco. We had a blast in Morocco. At that time, her family lived in the compound of the Spanish consulate in Tangiers, and I spent several days there. We also took the train to Larache.

We wanted to go to the beach in Larache. But unlike in Europe, it’s impossible to go to the beach in Morocco and even less so if you are two young girls. In Morocco, just the fact that you have long hair and wear a skirt, and especially if you are unaccompanied by adult males (although the presence of adult males is hardly a deterrent), is enough to draw in all the Moroccan men as if you were, well, some sort of rare prize or something.

So we had to defer on our beach plans. But even so, we had a great time together in Morocco. I remember going to the souk with Lana’s mother, and eating pistachio ice-cream. Mmmhh.

Today Lana is married, with two kids, like me (except I’m not married, of course!), and we live our separate lives in cities more than 500 km apart. We still chat via WhatsApp. She’s no longer a rebel, commutes two hours a day to get to work, gives her kids communions and attends all her and her hubby’s family events: baptisms, weddings, engagement parties……

She no longer goes out hiking or for walks in the country. They very rarely even go on holiday. She never travels, except to the family home on the beach.

I wish she lived here in Malaga, near me.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Hot Muggy September Nights

Back to Granada Again

We had such a jolly day in Granada. Well let me tell you from the start. I was so excited and longing to tell someone about it, so I ran off to write this blog post. My son did too, as soon as we got home he grabbed his WhatsApp and was WhatsApping all his classmates about his trip. He asked me for photos to send to his mates but they were all in the camera which doesn’t have any connection to internet.

Alhambra Granada

I didn’t feel like figuring out where to intersperse pics with text so I just lumped all the photos at the end of this post.

Anyways I got off on the wrong foot to begin the trip. Having to jump out of bed always does that to me, and we had to jump out of bed early. The first thing that went wrong was since we arrived so late at the bus station (we literally had less than FIVE MINUTES by the time we reached the ticket window, because there’s always a queue a mile long) I couldn’t get a ticket on the cheap bus and we had to take the expensive one (10 euros more for the 3 of us combined).

I was real p***d off about it. But at the end of the day, I realized we were real lucky.

Because the expensive bus was a luxury bus. I’d never gone on the luxury bus before and on the return trip home, when we got the ordinary bus, I realized how luxurious the luxury bus was. And how lucky we were to have got the chance to try out the luxury bus at least once. I would never have tried it out for myself, since it’s more expensive. In fact I didn’t even know it existed.

The luxury bus. Well the first thing is that it’s the same width as all buses. But inside there are only 3 seats in a row instead of 4. That means that each seat is wider. And 1 of every 3 people gets a seat all to themselves and doesn’t have to share with anyone. That is perfect for people who are travelling alone or for threesomes (like us). So my kids sat together and I sat alone on the other side of the aisle from them. A single seat is veeeeeery comfy and luxurious!

A wider seat is also more comfy. Then it was all covered in leather and it was very soft! Well I’m not crazy about the leather, but the soft part really appealed to me haha! The ordinary buses are covered with fabric but they could’ve used a softer fabric. Instead they used this very coarse, rough fabric that felt like old canvas. Dunno why they do that.

When we got to Granada I discovered that they had changed the bus system. So it was impossible to figure out which bus to take. The bus routes used to just have numbers. Now they had combinations of numbers and letters in different colours. (Well the colours didn’t have any significance, they were just to make it prettier.)

Anyways my friend later explained that the different letters tell us what kind of bus it is. Slow buses have one letter, fast buses (that come often) have another letter and circular routes have a different letter. Then the numbers are the route numbers.

We just grabbed the first bus that came along. It didn’t quite go to the centre but I lived a few years in Granada. So wherever it dropped us off at, I knew how to get from there to the centre.

Anyways, if you’re interested, planning on visiting Granada soon and you’d like some info on how to get into the city centre from the bus station, I’ll tell you that the bus we grabbed was called the SN-something, I don’t quite remember but perhaps SN1? It went close to the centre. It turned at Fuente Nueva, a park that’s just opposite the Pyramid building near Triunfo, and from there it makes its way to Camino de Ronda.

We jumped out at Fuente Nueva which is next to the city centre and walked around from there.

However, according to my friend, the correct way to go about it, if you want to ride directly into the heart of the city – let’s say you’ve got loads of luggage, for example, and your hotel or hostel is in the centre and you are NOT up to long walks with all those bags – then the correct route to take is this:

You would take the N4 bus which stops right at the bus station and get off at La Caleta. (Ask the bus driver.) (Or if you’re good at sighting sites on the fly, when the bus turns and you see a large open plaza with a very long fountain, where lots of kids are playing, that is La Caleta. Well come to think of it better you ask the driver haha.)

At La Caleta, at the same bus stop, you would then hop onto the LAC. The LAC is the circular bus that goes all around the centre. It’s fast and it’s coming all the time.

We spent a good few hours meandering around Granada and I showed the kiddies some more sights. They’ve already been there twice, my oldest son has been there more because one summer he spent a month with his papi who was living in Granada at that time, in a natural cave. (Not a rehabilitated one that has been conditioned for use as a residence, which there are a lot of in Granada, on the Sacromonte, and some very beautiful ones.) It was just a natural cave, that existed on the mountainside. But that’s for another story……

We had lunch in a place that I love. Oh and all the stores that I love that used to be in Granada had all closed and disappeared. There was practically nothing left in Granada. Only souvenir shops and lots of eateries for tourists. The city was practically a desert with streets all lined with closed-up shops that said For Sale or For Rent on them. I know in the summer some businesses go on holiday. But these were all empty shops, because they all had For Sale and For Rent signs on them.

So my fav stores include The Body Shop, which of course you must know as it’s a famous shop. Well they didn’t have one in Granada anymore. They used to. I later discovered that they had removed all their stores in southern Spain but increased the number of their shops in the rest of the country. Just to give an idea of what southern Spain is like. EVERYONE knows there is NO MONEY in southern Spain and the people of this region are as poor as dormice and have no money to buy anything.

Anyways I was telling about lunch. There was this buffet that we discovered in Barcelona which is a semi-vegetarian buffet. They have branches in many cities (but not in Malaga). They have one chicken dish and one fish dish and all the rest of their food is vegetarian. I love that buffet. Imagine a buffet full of vegetarian dishes!

I was sure they’d be closed too but lo and behold! there it was! So we had lunch there.

It’s called FresCo, if you’d like to patronise it. Gran Vía de Colón, 28. If you’re on the Gran Via and you just left the cathedral and you’re looking towards the Albaycin, it’s on the same street towards the left, on the opposite sidewalk.

The streets had been full of tourists and every tourist eatery had been full to the brim. So I was more than just mildly surprised to see that there were NO tourists in this buffet! Actually, I couldn’t believe that there was an eatery free of tourists in the centre of Granada in the summertime!

I guess vegetarian fare just simply isn’t on the lists of tourists haha.

Instead, the place was mostly full of families with kids. My kids fit in perfectly.

I was a bit miffed that my youngest son had to pay the adult rate because the kiddie rate is only to 10 years, and he’s 11. My youngest son hardly eats anything. I could’ve lied but you know, bad karma and all that……

But my oldest son and I ate sooo much I guess we ate my youngest son’s portion of food that he didn’t eat haha. My oldest son pretty much sampled every single dish that they had. I didn’t try out every dish, but I had a lot of chicken. It was really tasty! Now I’m in the mood for making the same chicken dish here at home.

After lunch we went out and you could really notice the steep rise in temperatures. Well we started the day off at 30 degrees in the early morning even in Malaga, so what did you expect in Granada? Every day at this time of the year the temps in Granada are in the low to mid 40s.

We walked around the Albayzin, the Moorish neighbourhood. It was as dirty and dusty and run-down as it has ever been. When I lived there they were starting this campaign that they would subsidize renovations to the Arab neighbourhood so home-owners there could modernize and restore their historic Arab houses. But as far as I could see no one had received any money for this project and no house was reformed or restored.

Granada is on a mountainside. In fact it is actually at an elevation of 1000 m. or 1 km. up, so it is very cold and even snows in the winter. That is why they have the ski resort, Sierra Nevada, there. But it is also closer to the sun and at this latitude. So that is why the temperature is extremely hot in the summer.

In fact my friend posted on Facebook the other day that they had soared up to the comfortable temperature of 47 degrees, complete with a photo of a thermometer.

But since it’s on a mountainside, you have to do a lot of climbing to walk around Granada, especially the Albayzin which is built on the mountainside. (The rest of the city is built on the lower plain at the foot of the mountain.)

Yes Heidi I am not. I’m not a mountain person. Give me low, flat coasts any day of the year haha!

My friend has the good fortune to live at the top of the mountain, at the border between the Albayzin and the Sacromonte. So we had to climb up there to meet her.

(There is a bus but I wanted to walk to show the kiddies the sights. It’s a mini bus, it’s called C or Circular and you can catch it at the bus stop in Plaza Nueva. It circles the Albayzin and goes up to the Sacromonte.)

My youngest son turned very very very red. I was alarmed!

Of course, climbing up a mountain at 43 degrees would make you red!

When we got to the plaza where I was going to meet my friend…… a miracle! There was a water fountain. Not a fountain of the kind that is for decoration and has water spraying up. It was a fountain which is a water tap, which is fairly common in historic areas of Spanish cities because in the past before running water that was where everyone went to get their water.

In fact when I was in Morocco, apparently a lot of people there don’t have running water in their homes because we passed by one of these fountains and a lot of people were there filling up their jugs. I don’t remember where that was and that was over 20 years ago (disclaimer in case some indignant reader should ever feel like writing in and insisting that that is simply not true, every single home in Morocco enjoys running water). But back to Granada.

As I said, there was a water fountain! Of course I POUNCED on it and started pouring water over my red son. I invited my oldest son to take a dive too but he sat demurely on a bench and refused. Something about how he’s in a teenage phase of wanting to look elegant or something……

Well I am not in a teenage phase of wanting to look elegant so I did go quite mad with the fountain. My youngest son and I started pouring water on each other. It was so hot that almost as soon as the water hit you, it was gone already! I did get good and wet but it was so hot by the time my friends arrived you couldn’t even tell haha.

But at least my son turned a more normal colour haha.

My friends live in an apartment at the top of the mountain. I asked my friend why they live up so high and she said they couldn’t find anyplace else to live. Yeah I guess it makes sense no one wants to live at the top of a mountain.

My friend designs websites for a living, so if you know anyone who wants a website designed and they speak Spanish, tell them about my friend!

Or rather, let ME know about it. Leave me a comment and I will get you in touch with my friend.

This is the Monastery of San Jerónimo. Even though I lived in Granada for a few years I’d never been here. We wandered into the gardens for a break from the searing sun and discovered the monastery.

This is the Plaza de la Trinidad. I used to go there to run around with the stroller and try and make my baby go to sleep. (Didn’t work too often, he’s hyperactive.)

This is the Puerta de Elvira, one of the original entryways into Granada from Moorish times. It’s not particularly well cared for considering it dates from Moorish times and is therefore a few centuries old. You can see bars where people rollick all around it and traffic rolls in underneath it.

Puerta de Elvira Granada

I had always been struck by this “cage” at the top of this monastery (yes it is a monastery!), but it had never occurred to me to take photos of it. A friend of mine was an art historian and she had been hired by the people of that very same monastery to go in and restore all the art work in there. She invited me to have a look around once.

Albayzin Granada

You just can’t imagine the AMAZE art treasures that are hidden away inside those very modest, even run-down looking outer walls. The monastery isn’t open to the public, so most people will never get to admire these treasures. Don’t know why they hide them away……

Scenes from the Albayzin and Sacromonte.

Check out this mill stone with baby shoes. I asked my son if those were his shoes, since he was a baby in Granada. (He said of course not!)

Millstone With Baby Shoes

I used to have a much better view of the Alhambra from our rooftop terrace. But I wasn’t happy when I lived in Granada.

Alhambra Granada

What makes you happy is to live in a place that you love and to be surrounded by people that you love, I think.

Alhambra Granada

Well that’s pretty much it about our trip to Granada. As I said, if you’re looking for someone to design a website for you and you speak Spanish, leave me a comment and I will let my friend know.

And if you are NOT looking for someone to design a website, leave me a comment anyways haha! I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Stories From Granada

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Sierra Nevada

Selwo Aventura Safari Park

The Carratraca Trail And a Water Party

We just had the most HYSTERICAL day ever!!!!!!! I had SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much fun!!!!!!!!!!! It was AMAZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Carratraca

My kids don’t quite agree, especially my youngest son who even had a temper tantrum, and he’s 11.

We went out hiking with a hiking group in Carratraca. We had a greeeeeeeaaaaaaat time. (Pics at end of post.)

However my youngest son isn’t used to walking anywhere at all, and he wailed and complained and I majorly worried he’d just sit right down on the path and pout and refuse to continue! Or his little legs would get so weary they’d just rubber out on him.

Fortunately even though he had a couple of meltdown moments, in the end he still gamely went on till the end. Which is a good thing cuz we didn’t have any willing males to carry him on his shoulders like some of the other kiddies did.

Carratraca is a tiny village in the interior of Malaga province near Álora, Tolox (which is also famous for its spa) and Alhaurín El Grande. It’s only got one main street and a couple of smaller lanes. It’s one of those typical whitewashed villages that are scorching hot in the summer and probably quite chilly in the winter. It doesn’t look like there’s much to do there or many things to see or places to visit, except for walking around the countryside.

After the long walk we enjoyed the highlight of the day: a feast with a WATER PARTY!!

The feast was okay. The food wasn’t that great although there was plenty of it and you could eat and drink as much as you wanted. They had sangría, and I had that of course. The kiddies had soft drinks. They put out apéritifs that they said there would be deli meats but there was only potato chips, bread sticks and olives. But the sangria was far out!

The route wasn’t really that long or bad, it was only 4 km. But you have to take into account what is the height as well, because it’s not the same to walk 4 km. but climb 2 km. haha as it is to walk 4 km. and only climb 100 m.

The walk was up to the top of a mountain and then walking all the way around the mountain. It was quite pleasant and not very difficult, but the main problem was having to carry my youngest son’s bag with its 1,5 litres of water and tons of food!

Anyways after that they served 2 humungous paellas. There was plenty of food and we were full, but in my opinion the paella wasn’t all that tasty. I guess they were counting on that we’d all be starved and we wouldn’t notice the less than ideal flavour haha!

My son loved it though.

After that they turned on the water hoses and you can NOT avoid them. They said the party was at this place called the bullring so I thought it was the local bullring. But turns out it was a very large open air bar CALLED The Bullring.

Anyways so since it was outdoors there were lots of water hoses and lots of fun with them. My oldest son used to enjoy doing silly things like this but now that he is going through a teenage phase of wanting to look elegant all the time (he told me he wanted a pretty sun hat this morning, not a plain, ordinary kiddy sun hat but a really fashionable one) he didn’t volunteer for much running around underneath the hoses. Didn’t matter, if you didn’t go to the hoses the hoses went to YOU.

My youngest son sat and sulked in a corner cuz he doesn’t like anything exciting. He even hates the amusement park. Didn’t matter, the hoses went for him too haha.

In Spain since it’s so hugely hot in the summer (temps over 40 every day) lots of water activities are scheduled haha.

I didn’t take any photos of this section of the day, I put the phone away in a safe, dry place and let the guy with the HD underwater camera do all the honours.

One thing I really love about Spain and Spanish culture is that people aren’t going to go, ew we don’t want you you can’t take part cuz we don’t know you. In Spain people go, come on the more the merrier. So you don’t have to feel like you don’t belong and can’t take part in activities. I’m usually a lurker and an onlooker, but it looked like soooooooooooooo much fun that I tried to get in and everyone was so nice and amazing. They had all sorts of silly games and activities (underneath water hoses of course hehe). They even had skip rope.

After that there were door prizes. I was so excited, we won a prize!!!!!!! My son’s wishes came true and we won a sun hat with the name of the hiking group emblazoned all around it. I gave it to my son of course.

When we came home there wasn’t much to eat in the house: a pack of eggs, some grains like pasta, couscous and rice and flour and an aubergine. I was too tired to make fried aubergine. Then I had an inspiration! I made garlic soup.

Garlic soup is the fastest and easiest thing in the world if ever you’re pressed on time, you have an empty house and you’re tired. Here’s the very easy recipe:

Fry a bit of garlic in oil at the bottom of a large pot. Then fill the pot with water and put in chicken stock, salt and pepper. When it boils throw in some small kind of pasta (like not large pasta like macarroni or spaghetti, something small like alphabet letters). When the pasta is ready (always keeping lots of water in relation to the pasta, or it wouldn’t be a SOUP haha) carefully upend an egg into it. The egg will cook and the yolk will be a nice round raw yolk. Serve a bowlful with the yolk. Then put in another egg for the next eater etc.

My kids fell like stones into bed.

We went to a shrine, a religious Catholic shrine, at the top of the mountain. They say the villagers wanted a shrine so they built it. On the very day it was supposed to be inaugurated a bolt of lightning arched clear out of the clear blue sky and struck directly onto the shrine and burnt it up. No more obvious indication from the heavens that G-d did NOT want a shrine built there. So they didn’t rebuild it.

This little village (with only 1 main street) apparently was some sort of spa and lots of manors sprang up to handle all the health tourism. We actually peeked in at one of the spas, it sure looked luxurious inside. Anyways the biggest manor of them all has been converted into the Town Hall.

Just a coupla landscape pics.

Carratraca

These really large eolic things were all over the place. In the photo they look so tiny but in real life they are really humungous and impressive towering over ya.

Carratraca Molino Eolico

Coupla pics bout town.

Dunno why the last photo came out so fuzzy. Maybe it’s heat waves haha.

I’m only putting up one photo of the water party because they were taken with an HD waterproof camera and they are not mine.

Carratraca

Photo credit: Las Rutitas De Los Domingos

I just had to laugh thinking about some elderly people who came to the water party. Water parties round here are NOT a spectator sport haha. These weren’t members of the hiking group, they were I guess just villagers who decided they’d drop in and have a look round. They thought they could just sort of hide in the corners and observe. Well as for observing – no way! The water hoses attacked them just the same. The fact that they were elderly didn’t in any way provide them with immunity haha.

One couple just decided that what the…… Since they were there they might as well join in the fun. The other couple, they were so funny. They didn’t like getting attacked by water hoses and just sat in a corner and SULKED. They just happened to end up sitting next to my youngest son who was also SULKING haha.

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Caves of Nerja

Well, looks like it’s time for another sightseeing / travel post.

I promised my son I would take him to the Caves of Nerja for his birthday. His birthday was at the end of last year, so you can see I’m not very current with posts haha!

If you live around here or have ever come for a visit, you are probably familiar with the Caves of Nerja and you have probably dropped by to discover them. They are very well known and most tourists do try to make an effort to stop by and visit them.

The Caves of Nerja were formed millions of years ago during prehistoric times by rainwater filtering through the porous rock and slowly gouging out cavities and openings underground. They were almost continuously inhabited by cavemen, who left several paintings depicting everyday life in their times. These cave paintings aren’t open to the public, in order to preserve them.

Even though they are so famous today, no one knew about these caves in modern times until they were discovered in 1959.

Now, it’s very common for caves to be discovered while public works are taking place excavating tunnels for highways, parking lots or other things that are habitually built underground. But that wasn’t how the Caves of Nerja were discovered.

A group of five boys from the nearby village of Maro liked to wander around in the fields and go bat hunting. They were aware that there were some holes where literally hundreds and thousands of bats would fly out from at dusk, and they liked to go chasing these bats.

One day, they thought they would explore more deeply into the holes where these bats flew out from. They tried to drop down into one of these holes, and soon found out that it wasn’t exactly just a tiny little rabbit warren haha!

It was, in fact, an enormous, immense, gigantic cavern. When they dropped down into the cavern, they discovered skeletons lying around.

They were very excited and were soon sharing their findings with friends, neighbours and teachers. Word spread, and it wasn’t long before scientists and experts started swinging around to check out this new finding.

Very soon they realized the immensity and significance of this discovery. Archaeological research began on this site, and the following year the caves were opened to the public.

The five lucky lads who discovered the caves weren’t forgotten. They are immortalized in a statue that you can see in the town of Nerja.

The Caves themselves are divided into three galleries, only one of which is open to tourists. The two deeper galleries, the Upper Gallery and the New Gallery, can only be visited in special, pre-arranged tours.

A series of pathways cuts through several halls and leads you in the end to the main showcase of the Caves: the Hall of the Cataclysm.

This is the famous hall where you can see the super gigantic column in the centre. This is the largest naturally-occurring cave column in the world. It reaches from the top of the hall into depths so profound that you can’t really see the bottom of it all. The column is 32 metres high and occupies a space of 3000 m3.

We went in the afternoon so we could see the guided tour, but I’m not too sure it is really worth the bother of having to jostle with all the crowds. If we ever go back again we will probably go in the morning, when you don’t have to go in a group and you can wander about freely.

We got assigned to a tour guide who pretty much didn’t say a word to us, other than telling us which direction to go in the labyrinthine trails which appear to wander about in all directions. Fortunately, we hung behind, and we were able to catch other tour guides who were a little less laconic.

I’m not too sure about how much information you can garner from the explanations of the tour guides, all the same. We listened to one explain how the Hall of the Cataclysm was formed:

“This hall is known as the Hall of the Cataclysm. The reason it received this name is because during the time this cave was formed, there were lots and lots of major cataclysms on earth. Severe earthquakes, which really shook up the earth a lot and made a lot of the blocks inside this cave fall down all over the place into haphazard shapes, which is what you can see now.”

You can see from this natural cave design where the Moors got their inspiration for their incredible artwork and architecture that you can admire in places like the Alhambra of Granada.

The pamphlet that they give you when you enter into the Caves provides you with the same explanation, in slightly clearer language:

“At the bottom of the cavern you can observe piles of enormous stone blocks. These are stalactites and stalagmites piled one atop the other without any logical order. This chaos resulted from a colossal earthquake which took place 800,000 years ago.”

There is a vast space which is usually filled with seats, where concerts and dance shows take place during the summer. These concerts take advantage of the incredible and formidable natural acoustics in this area. You can hear these acoustics if you scream in the hall (when no one is around, of course): you will hear your voice echo all around you. The sound is just amazing.

Of course, if you go with a super-responsible, old-before-his-time child with adult behaviour, he will say something like, “Mami, stop screaming! You shouldn’t scream in public places!”

Outside the Caves, you can wander around and enjoy the Hispano-Arab garden, which is a small pool of water covered with beautiful tiles. There are also playgrounds and cool paths with benches to stroll about or to sit and rest.

There is a cafeteria-restaurant where they serve drinks at a most reasonable price, where you can freshen up before the long ride home or grab a bite to eat.

All in all, this is a really great site for a day trip. You can just come to enjoy the caves, or you can combine it with a trip to the town of Nerja. We have been to Nerja a few times and if I ever feel up to it, I might zip up another blog post dedicated just to the town of Nerja.

The Caves of Nerja are open from 10 am. to 1 pm. in the mornings for unsupervised visits. At 1 o’clock the first guided tour begins. After that the Caves close for lunch, and re-open at 4 in the afternoon. From 4 to 5:30 there are guided tours every half hour.

There is a special schedule during the summer months, so if you are planning a visit in the summer, check their new opening hours for that period.

They also offer special visits (with different prices) which must be reserved beforehand. These visits can be reserved through internet.

The visit costs the same regardless of whether you go alone or with a guide. The price of the ticket is 9 euros for adults and 5 euros for children up to 12 years old. Children under 6 can enter for free. (As of 2015.)

I do like the Caves of Nerja, and I consider it a must to visit them if you are in Malaga on holiday. However, I feel that in matters of cave exploration, the best kept secret in the region is definitely the Treasure Cave.

Check up my blog post on the Treasure Cave here.

I personally prefer the Treasure Cave over the Caves of Nerja for a number of reasons:

  • the Treasure Cave has a greater variety of shapes, caverns and hallways
  • there are rock formations with more interesting shapes in the Treasure Cave
  • the Treasure Cave has a lot of historical significance, and it was used as a centre for cult and deity worship during prehistoric times
  • you get to see the cavern dedicated to the worship of the prehistoric deity Noctiluca, really quite incredible
  • there are never a lot of tourists jostling around in the Treasure Cave, so you can have a relaxed, leisurely tour at any time of the year
  • it’s a “wet” cave, so you can see basins filled with water and you can even dip your fingers into the water and rub it on your face (the water is naturally clean and clear, it’s rainwater that has filtered in through the porous rocks). I would be careful which basins you dip your fingers into, though, since some of these basins were used for animal sacrifice!
  • there are three underground lakes, beautiful and spectacular! You won’t find that at the Caves of Nerja
  • the entrance fare is cheaper than at the Caves of Nerja, and if your kids are members of “La Banda” they get to go in for free
  • there is an archaeological park at the Treasure Cave that you can visit for free, and it gives you archaeological and scientific information. You can also see reproductions of some prehistoric cave paintings in this park. Children will probably be bored there, however. I speak from experience!

I saved these two photos for last because they seemed rather special. I thought that both these photos looked sort of like the book cover for some Lord of The Rings-like novel. Of course they are not as good quality as a real, true, bona-fide professional book cover, they’re grainy. But I thought they still rather looked like something out of The Lord of The Rings.

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