Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Stony Ground, Stony Mind!

On Monday afternoon I caught the bus from Malaga to Lanjarón, a village on the western fringes of the Alpujarras hills. I spent the night under the stars just north of the village and then walked to the village of Órgiva the following morning. The footpath I took wasn't the GR7 but the GR142. The walking was hard, over very uneven ground, but the views were spectacular. I arrived in Órgiva looking rather sunburnt.

Órgiva is host to a sort of New Age community. There's a tepee village on the outskirts called Beneficia and that's where I spent last night, with a bunch of hippies. They gave me figs and chapatis to eat. Then the hash pipe was passed around and I got really stoned! The music and camp fire were nice but my head was all over the place. I got so stoned that I didn't know who I was or where I was! But the place has a great vibe.

Earlier today I caught the bus to a village called Cádiar. Later on I'm going to walk the remaining 8 KM to the Valle de Sensaciones, which is the organic farm where I'll be working. It's also another sort of New Age community. I'm going at the right time because there's a full moon party on Saturday. Should be fun!

The Alpujarras are amazingly scenic, lots of tiny villages high in the hills with narrow roads winding between them. Walking any distance is proving to be hard because of the heat and difficult terrain but I've managed to cope so far!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Pick a Casso, Any Casso...

This time I actually made it to the airport on time! I flew in a plane full of British holidaymakers -- the worst kind -- on their way to the Costa del Sol... Not the best start to any trip! It was a relief to land and get away from them. The temperature here is in the mid 30s centigrade and the sky is relentlessly blue. Not a cloud to be seen anywhere! I spent the night in Malaga airport because I'm trying to spend as little money as possible. It was boring but my MP3 player helped me to survive the ordeal!

It is almost exactly three years since I was last in Malaga. The city has a scruffy, dusty charm but I'm looking forward to catching the bus into the Alpujarras hills later this afternoon. I'm heading to the village of Lanjarón where I'm hoping to join the long distance GR 7 footpath. My destination is a little farm near the village of Yátor and it should take me two or three days of walking to get there. If it proves too difficult I'll probably try to hitch!

I haven't really done much in Malaga. I went to see the house where Picasso was born. I drank a cup of coffee. I sat in one of the parks. I guess I must be conserving my energy!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Midsummer's Day -- Rainy in Wales!

I packed my bags, drank the last of my coffee, washed my bedsheets, cleaned my room and left Waunarlwydd with a tear in my eye... I had booked my flight successfully for the early hours of this morning -- Stansted to Granada -- and was fully prepared for the start of my adventure... but the coach to Stansted airport was fully booked, so I missed my flight.

What a buffoon! I have just booked another flight -- to Malaga -- and this time I'm flying from Cardiff -- but it doesn't leave until Sunday. So I'm still here in Wales for another three days, lying low, hoping nobody I know sees me -- because I have already said 'goodbye' a dozen times!

I said goodbye to Huw and Manuela last week, goodbye to Stuart and Monica on Sunday, goodbye to Miss Frisbee Girl on five separate occasions, goodbye to Hannah every day for the past ten days... but I'm still here!

How shameful!

I believe that once I arrive in Malaga I will begin travelling towards the Alpujarras. I don't know for sure. Maybe I'll go in the other direction, to Tarifa. I have had several offers of work from various farms. The weather in Andalucia is sun, sun, sun for the next week. The weather here is rain, rain, rain until the end of time!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Squeeze My Lem ('til the Sentient Ocean runs down my leg)

I have finally finished my tribute story to Stanislaw Lem. It was one of the hardest stories I have ever written and took an inordinately long time, partly because it is constructed as a pseudo-review of a non-existent Lem book in the style of one of Lem's pseudo-reviews of a non-existent book. Those pseudo-reviews were collected as A Perfect Vacuum, which remains one of my favourite Lem volumes.

I believe I am about to travel to Spain. I only have £1000 to last me four months, so I guess there's going to be a lot of working on farms, sleeping under the stars and hitching to get around. I may go to Granada first, I don't know. Hopefully Hannah will come out to visit me at some point: she is definitely coming to Lisbon with me in October, and Madrid and Seville in November. I may also hook up with Lowri over there, as she is going to Spain tomorrow... My Hummdrumming editor also lives in Spain (near Valencia) so I may get to meet him too.

I don't tend to write much when I'm abroad, but I plan to complete a short novel this time. So far I have only the title -- Bedsteads Across Iberia -- and the idea that it will be mostly realistic but set in a fantastical framing device. That seems an unexpected thing to do.

I'm having a leaving drink at the Uplands Tavern on Saturday, 8:00 PM. Come along, all who so desire...

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