Starting off with a head torch to spot the markers on a myriad of sandy tracks, the path climbed slowly out of the valley and up through rounded hills to reveal more and more olives lit by the light of a silvery moon.
Attractive in a strange way despite the monotony this monoculture , and the practise of keeping the earth clear, certainly aids erosion in fragile soils such as these. Very silty with underlying clay, once any watercourse gets a hold it sweeps all away, down the arroyas to the rivers and eventually the sea. God knows how many million tons of soil are washed into the med every year but it’s a wonder the whole thing isn’t silted up.
There was a lot of gun shot throughout the early morning as men and dogs sought rabbits. I came upon their prints embedded in the sun baked clay.
The baked clay made the tractor compressed dirt tracks set like cement which wouldn’t allow any rain soakage.
But passing slowly through the regimented planting was hypnotic and calming and bought to mind a passage in a book I’m reading at the moment that goes some way to explain why I’m happy on the lonesome trail.
To ramble further in this vein, another recent read “The Moth Snowstorm ” spoke of how a reconnection with the awe and ,at times, sublime joy felt in the presence of “nature” by 50,000 generations of hunter gatherer ancestors could possibly save us from the likely consequences of the actions of the last 500 generations as we withdrew from the natural world.
Of course you may not hold with the notion that agriculture was the beginning of the end and the families that owned the huge estates I was walking through surely didn’t.
Holed up in their vast cortijos, these were not subsistence farmers.
These places have reigned supreme for centuries and there’s no sign of a slow down. Run like self contained fiefdoms in the past big business continues to plant on an industrial scale.
I did come across one derelict place adjoining a more modern one.
These countless trees demand an unimaginable amount of labour and I saw teams of men cutting off suckering shoots and tractors dragging tyre formations across the endless “groves”.
As someone who has harvested a few olive trees in my time I can’t imagine the logistics involved in saving these never ending crops. And they are all WATERED! Mile upon mile of underground plastic pipes releasing precious aqua to each individual tree from a multitude of pumps.
Much as I admired the ingenuity involved and appreciated the shade they offered I eventually grew to hot to feel awe or unbridled joy in their presence and it was with relief I stumbled out onto a road for the remaining km or so into Alemeda.
A strange place with a street of mostly undeveloped plots
It had a large mobile home park and my home for the night, an old and imposing posada that even, joy of joys, had a small pool to cool my overheated body in.