Leaving Costa del Sol we enter Granada province’s Costa Tropical – less developed and more our style. After a quick side trip to La Herradura beach to scout scuba options we continued to Motril to stock up for our 9-day Villa stay. Motril’s immense Al Campo grocery store has everything: American variety, European quality and Spanish prices… nice. With limited space in our little Opel I packed the supplies around Sue and the boys then we’re off to our Villa. We approach with high hopes for the The drive up adds anticipation – it’s 20 minutes up a narrow, twisty road between cliffs and wind turbines (foreshadowing?) to Villa Masia De L’Avi. Once there we’re a bit relieved to find it as advertised… huge and private with panoramic views, a crisp pool and modern comforts. This will be a fine place to slow down, do some planning and get the kids caught up on homework, and let Max recuperate from the cold he’s caught. But it’s the Sony Playstation that the boys are most excited about… they are denied such simple pleasures at home. We roll up the stout Spanish shutters, open the window to air the place out, pick our rooms, unpack, settle in… and in no time the boys have figured out the Driver San Francisco playstation game. Sous chef Sue whips out the olives, aged cheese, crusty bread and a bottle of Rioja, all is good.
By Friday Max’s cold is in full, chesty bloom. Sue has some writing to do so Ben and I zip off to explore the Alpujarra hill towns to our north. With Ben in the front seat I can drive more aggressively, and it’s fun generating some G’s in the sporty little Opel as we wind through Spain’s Sierra Nevadas. In an hour we’re deep in the Alpujarra region, and another twisty twenty ticks brings us to the sleepy hillvillage of Pampaneira. Ben and I park and play on the community exercise equipment – very similar to the stuff we’ve seen in Latin America – then we agree to hike through town and up to the second of three villages, Bubión. It’s a pretty, view-filled hike among the poppies and wildflowers, past ancient waterways and fountains up to the smaller, sleepier hamlet. We get lots in her alleys, strike up a few stranger conversations, admire the flat purple stone roofs and quaint chimneys, then find another way back to the return trail, and drive home through Lanjaron just for kicks. Back at home Sue’s made progress on her writing deadlines and Max has advanced his geometry and playstation skills. Another fine family feast and somehow it’s 10PM.
Sunday we take it easy, pushing on planning, writing and homework in the morning. The winds are too high for pool time, so we throw beach gear in the car and twist down the hill to explore seaside Salobreña. It’s a busy Spanish Sunday and the restaurants are full during Siesta hour, but we charm our way into some beachfront chairs at our second choice and enjoy a fine simple lunch of calamari, salads and fresh fish. I can’t lure the family into town or up to the castle, so we settle for a stroll on a beachside bluff, then buy an umbrella and park on the broad pebble beach. The water’s cold and the beach is steep, so our swim is brief.. but the stones are perfect for skipping, and they are warm and smooth, so eventually I’m able to bury and soothe my savage beasts. We pop into a local grocery store on the way home and decide that we prefer our monster, super-value Al Campo. To save our stomachs Sue drives home on the windy, windy road; I take a quick cold jump in the pool and somehow a bottle of Rioja and Sue noshes later it’s bed time.