Monday, August 27, 2012

Our beautiful countryside.

Yesterday I told you all about the fire up around Bédar, which thankfully is now extinguished. We are very grateful that, apart from a little ash in the yard, we were not touched by it. Two years ago I was showing an even bigger fire that roared up the Cabrera Mountains on the other side of our village. That left a big, black scar on the land, just as the events of this weekend have done, but now there is no sign left of it. The land is back to how it was, and hopefully most of the wild life has returned too. I said that we set out on Saturday for me to take some scenic photographs so I thought I'd just share a couple from those I took.

The first one is a bit of fun. I have travelled the 'back road' between us and Turre many, many times, but never before have I noticed that it is looked down on by Darth Vader. I guess the light was just right for me to see him and I thought he was quite sinister. But by the time I had taken a few photos I decided he was actually fairly benign, but I still don't think I would like him looking down on my back yard!

Next I stopped to look at the bridge that spans the rambla in the same area. It is a sharp bend with one-way traffic across it. I think it is a beautiful design. Presumably all the archways are to allow wind to pass through rather than cause damage, but the birds think they make a lovely perch or even a place to build a nest. I saw a beautiful blue European roller there a couple of years ago.

This shot shows the progress that has been made on the track for the proposed AVE (Alto Velocidad España, or High speed train). It has been interesting to watch how it was all dug out, and then filled in again, now with wide drainage gullies along each side, and a perfectly flat tarmac surface ready to take the track. There are loads of bridges across it to link the isolated farm houses to the main roads. This was taken from the bridge nearest to us, at the top of Huerta Nueva - the urbanisation across the road from Los Gallardos.

And this is my favourite one which I took with the panoramic setting on my camera. It was taken from the top of the hill at the front of our village, just before sundown. It shows the Cabrera mountains, (where the previous fire was), looking slightly pink as they reflect the setting sun behind me. Just to the left  of centre, you can (almost) see the tiny white village of Mojacar Pueblo, just before a huge bank of cloud rolled in from the sea and hid it completely. 

This is a close up of one section from the photo above, showing some of the cacti that grow everywhere here. There are three types of these which often get confused. They look a bit like aloe vera plants, but aloe vera actually have a pretty pink/orange bell flower. I have several from the aloe vera family in pots in my garden. These ones that grow freely all over the campo, are actually Agave (cactus) Americana, also know as Century plant, maybe because they are very slow growing and can live up to thirty years - not a century though!. The plant they are often confused with is the sisal plant, but the main difference between them is that the sisal plant does not carry 'teeth' or thorns, and the Americana does, all along the edges of its leaves. They take at least ten years to flower, and when they do, the centre stem which carries the flower grows almost while you watch it, until it is as tall as a small tree. The branches carry bright yellow flowers loved by bees, and then turn to seed which the birds flock to collect. Once it has flowered, the plant dies, but little 'pups' spring up all around it to make new plants. We have several of these, and some of the green and yellow striped variety, making a security fence along the back of our house. I hope I am still around when one flowers! The leaves of both the sisal and Americana cacti contain long fibres which are collected and dried, and woven to make rope and twine. The flower stem is sturdy enough to chop up to use as fire wood. I love the shape of them and think they make a distinctive silhouette in an evening photo. 

I published this and then decided that you can't really see the village, so here it is in close up! You can see the bank of cloud already in front of the first mountains. By the time I got home you couldn't see the hills from our gate at all. But an hour or so later, the clouds had gone again!

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