For many visitors to Almeria the baking hot summer months are the only time they experience this beautiful region. By then the sun has done its work and all the spring flowers and grasses have been scorched brown and other plants have also lost their leaves. The last remnants of green come from oranges and lemons, cactus, olive and eucalyptus trees. The leaves on the almond trees also give up the ghost by July leaving just the drying husks containing the tasty fruit hanging from seemingly dead branches.
Local farmers wisely plough between the fruit trees in late spring to lessen the likelihood of summer wildfires. Its a sad neccessity and sadly 90% of fires are caused by people whether intentionally or through stupidity.
For year round inhabitants we have a much more pleasurable experience as once the first rains (or the hurricane on last September) have penetrated the baked soils in the autumn, slowly the hills are again blanketed green. Then soon after Christmas, Mother Nature treats us all to a spectaculardisplay of almond blossom which in higher areas can last until late February.
Having just experienced my seventh consecutive Almerian winter I think we were all spoiled this time round by dry and warm daytimes until the weather turned a few weeks ago. At times snow could be seen on the highest peaks; just above Bar Trinidad in Arboleas is a great viewpoint for the Sierra de Baza, over 75kms distant which are covered in snow. Old hands will recall the winter of 2006/7 when in late January there was a heat wave and then suddenly the temperature dropped like a stone and the whole of Spain was blanketed in snow. I remember hearing the rain tapping against the window panes all Friday evening and suddenly at midnight all went quiet as the temperature had dropped enough for the rain to turn to snow. Locals had not seenanything like it for fifty years and we foreign invaders had left Britain to escape that sort of thing.
Luckily when I first started to search for a property to buy back in 2004 it was winter and there were some really hard frosts and I saw ice on the roads in some higher up places so I knew the weather could turn frigid and so installed a lovely Hergom log burner when finally the cortijo was bought and restored.
We are midway through March now and spring has certainly sprung with beautiful flowers to be admired all around. The awful black scars left by last year’s wildfire in Bedar and many other places across Spain need as much rain as possible to heal over. The grasses, retamar and palms were the first to recover, with new leaves also appearing on the olives
and eucalyptus. In Cortijo Grande apart from the odd charred tree stump it’s hard to see any sign the devastation caused almost 4 years ago as now it’s a riot of blooming flowers with all shades and hues of green thrown in for good measure. I saw my first flowering orchid just a few days ago in the hills behind Lubrin and will now seek out more from the secret places I have discovered over the years.
A sadly hilarious quick update on the non excellence of Sabadell bank; I tried to use my debit card this week but it was declined at 2 different stores. So I visited the Sabanillas branch and was reassured to see a long queue which did actually reach to the front door so knew I was in the right place. When I queried why the card did not work I was told it was the fault of Mercadona supermarket – but it was rejected elsewhere I said. Then came the most puzzling explanation of all – apparently the debit card has an automatic stop on it when 1200€ has been used in any one calendar month. The limit will be raised to 2000€ once someone presses the right buttons in Vera I have been told. Until then I cannot use it for any luxuries like food, petrol or Ferraris.
And finally, I know the Spanish like wearing bright red clothing, but one thing that puzzles me is the reasoning behind owning a daffodil yellow coloured car. I often see them but cannot for the life of me fathom why anyone would willingly drive around in a banana on wheels. If any reader knows what the attraction is kindly let me know!