Travelling is the greatest education – and whenever we do it we all feel so alive, shining brilliantly bright like snowflakes in the sunlight.
It’s like watching fantastic day-long films develop before your very eyes, the story of the world’s creation and the human condition together in a phantasmagoric feast to all five senses.
Spain is a wonderful country with so much more than its (fantastic!) beaches. Near to Despeñaperros, our next campsite (beautifully set among trees within the stunning National Park here and with beautiful far-reaching views), just through the tranquil town of Aldeaqumada is Cimbarra Falls – one of Andalusia’s most impressive waterfalls, with its astonishing 40-metre drop.
It is flanked by two colossal limestone cliffs – and almost directly in the centre the river takes its whooshing plunge into a large green-blue pool below. Taking in the wonderful drive up there, feeling in the middle of a land so quiet and yet so vast, it’s the most impressive falls we’ve ever seen.
On that drive we were fortunate enough to be able to see deer, eagles and vultures. And a rabbit, with the largest white bum we’ve even seen (on a rabbit at least…).
And the falls themselves are awesome. Almost scarily so, such is the height they fall from and the power unleashed (and on the day we visited there had not been much recent rainfall to boost its volume and the noise as it crashes over the edge and down into the pool). The view up top shows a river so peaceful until suddenly and without warning – whoosh!
We were able to teach our boys about rock formations, erosion, history (due to the remains of a mill there), the great outdoors and nature – plus it was a pretty awesome lesson in gravity! Same principle but just a bit more stunning than dropping an apple!
From there we drove to our next campsite, Las Lomas, which is just in one of the most stunning settings ever created. If you ate al fresco here at the restaurant you’d have to force your jaw up to chew the food. Simply stunning.
After getting our pitch here and taking in the views all around we thought we’d head for the snow covering the mountain we could see not too far away. This was the real white stuff, not any of that slushy imposter.
The Sierra Nevada (“snowy range” in Spanish) has the highest point of continental Spain, Mulhacén at 3,478 metres above sea level. At its foothills is the city of Granada, and it’s many of those friendly locals you’ll see skiing up here (that apparently lasts until April). Amazingly you could ski in the morning, then drive about an hour south for a spot of sunbathing on the Costa Tropical or Costa del Sol beaches. Or do it the other way round, just not forgetting to change out of your Speedos…
We threw a few snowballs for Colin the collie dog, then made our little snowman (that ended up looking like an icy version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream), had a little slide in the snow, then headed back – and if the drive up had been something, which it had, then the drive down was even more exhilarating – and precarious!
It went on for about 30 minutes, the smell of burning brake pads strongly in the air as we took on its many left and rights, and some bends for which we had to turn inside out to make it round in one piece.
There were moments Debs and I might have looked like the inspirations for The Scream! But in the back, as is the worry-free way of children, the only screams were of delight, the boys loving this giant roller coaster.
And just as soon as we reached the bottom, we realised we had too. We were still alive, and OH YES –we felt it.