April 8 Navijas - Santa Elena (Jaén Province)

Leaving the mountains of Valencia, we drove through fog, returning to the orange groves of Valencia, skirted the city, and climbed through pine covered hills of the Serra de las Cab- rillas to Castile with its vineyards and orange groves, irrigated forage, grain fields, and olive groves. Travelling on a busy two lane national highway leading to the mountains of Andalucia, we passed through small villages, active in the morning, deserted at the after- noon siesta . As we crossed the summit into the Andalusian province of Jaen, the land- scape turned olive-drab. Olive trees stretched horizon to horizon – all of it olive trees, countless olive trees, numberless olive trees (actually someone has estimated 60,000 in Jaen province) owned by only a few families and tended by labourers who are among the poorest in Spain. I had not imagined that there existed so many olive trees. Kilometer after kilometer after kilometer, they carpet the valleys, the hillsides, and the hilltops forming irregular geometric patterns of olive drab circles embedded in red or white earthen matrices. Ploughed regularly to reduce competition for water by the grasses and weeds, the patterns seem endless, broken only by rocky hilltops or villages and olive oil pressing and extraction plants. Smoke stacks sent plumes of white smoke and steam into the blue sky, the smell of the last hot water extraction of olive oil hung in the still air and the white smoke lay in the valleys, softening the landscape. Our campsite, sat in a grove of large shade pines, overlooking an olive orchard and sheep pasture. Mules brayed and dogs bayed in the background, a rooster announced the morning. The warm, olive scented winds and the crunch of brittle, tinder dry pine needles and twigs underfoot was romantic but lost its novelty when the needles and twigs tangled in our sandals and socks or the wind blew them into the van. Hot water disappeared in the morning and the showers required pushing and holding a button to get warm water. The water turning off immediately you released the button. Despite that, it was quiet and a good place to pass a few sluggish days catching up on photos, journal, email and camp chores

April 9 Santa Elena - Beas de Granada - Santa Elena

With Semana Santa (Holy Week / Easter) coming up, we dashed down the Autovia to Granada and reserved a campsite for the next week, returning by country road. To Shiela’s consternation our GPS directed us through another small town of extremely narrow lanes and steep hills where markets and construction workers blocked the streets. I have been instructed that henceforth, I am to stop at the edge of any small town so that Sheila can check our route before entering. Having driven through what seemed like endless olive groves, I hoped to find and photograph the modal / quintessential olive tree, but as in soil science, modal exists only in the mind of the searcher and, if ever found and photographed will never be found again. Indeed, upon close inspection while walking through olive groves, olive trees are, like snowflakes, no two alike. We returned through the architectural heritage treasure of Ubeda but stopped only long enough to shop before returning to camp.

April 10 Santa Elena

Today we slugged (relaxed). After a breakfast of bacon, waffles, bananas, and maple syrup with fresh coffee, we worked on catching up on our journal, photos, and trip reports. By afternoon, the warm breeze, radiant warmth of the sun, and clear blue sky were irresistible and we set off on foot to explore the countryside around the campground  A dirt track led us into a olive grove. The freshly tilled, coarse rocky soils, bright red in the sun, were uncomfortable underfoot, so we climbed to a paved lane winding through sheep pasture so closely cropped it could have been on a putting green. We found the  braying mules we had heard the day we arrived, peered into farmyards and gardens, and then followed the lane back to camp through Santa Elena. The town was refreshingly low-key, no tourist attractions or upscale restaurants, a few abandoned gardens with tumbledown walls, cinder-block construction, and a pleasant stroll. We finished our day with a lovely fennel and ham pasta in a light creamy garlic sauce; a lettuce, tomato, and cheese salad in a red wine vinaigrette, accompanied by a fine 2007 vintage Vina Espolon (Rioja tinto); and finished with dark chocolate with fresh, succulent red grapes, high fiber low calorie biscuits, and fresh coffee. Sheila’s culinary skill on a tiny two burner propane stove with minuscule counter in a cramped van never ceases to amaze me.

April 11 Santa Elena

Another slug day. After a cloudy morning, sunshine and warm winds. My journal, my email, my photos, and my back-ups are up to date, and I have time to read. Wonderful!!!
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Leaving Navijas Olive groves, Jaen Province Smoke and steam billow from an olive processing plant View from our campsite near Santa Elena In search of the modal olive tree Santa Elena

April 8 Navijas - Santa Elena (Jaén

Province)

Leaving the mountains of Valencia, we drove through fog, returning to the orange groves of Valencia, skirted the city, and climbed through pine covered hills of the Serra de las Cabrillas to Castile with its vineyards and orange groves, irrigated forage, grain fields, and olive groves. Travelling on a busy two lane national highway leading to the mountains of Andalucia, we passed through small villages, active in the morning, deserted at the afternoon siesta . As we crossed the summit into the Andalusian province of Jaen, the landscape turned olive- drab. Olive trees stretched horizon to hori- zon – all of it olive trees, countless olive trees, numberless olive trees (actually someone has estimated 60,000 in Jaen province) owned by only a few families and tended by labourers who are among the poorest in Spain. I had not imagined that there existed so many olive trees. Kilometer after kilometer after kilometer, they carpet the valleys, the hillsides, and the hilltops forming irregular geometric patterns of olive drab circles embedded in red or white earthen matrices. Ploughed regularly to reduce competition for water by the grasses and weeds, the patterns seem endless, broken only by rocky hilltops or villages and olive oil pressing and extraction plants. Smoke stacks sent plumes of white smoke and steam into the blue sky, the smell of the last hot water extraction of olive oil hung in the still air and the white smoke lay in the valleys, softening the landscape. Our campsite, sat in a grove of large shade pines, overlooking an olive orchard and sheep pasture. Mules brayed and dogs bayed in the background, a rooster announced the morning. The warm, olive scented winds and the crunch of brittle, tinder dry pine needles and twigs underfoot was romantic but lost its novelty when the needles and twigs tangled in our sandals and socks or the wind blew them into the van. Hot water disappeared in the morning and the showers required pushing and holding a button to get warm water. The water turning off immediately you released the button. Despite that, it was quiet and a good place to pass a few sluggish days catching up on photos, journal, email and camp chores

April 9 Santa Elena - Beas de Granada -

Santa Elena

With Semana Santa (Holy Week / Easter) coming up, we dashed down the Autovia to Granada and reserved a campsite for the next week, returning by country road. To Shiela’s consternation our GPS directed us through another small town of extremely narrow lanes and steep hills where markets and construction workers blocked the streets. I have been instructed that henceforth, I am to stop at the edge of any small town so that Sheila can check our route before entering. Having driven through what seemed like endless olive groves, I hoped to find and photograph the modal / quintessential olive tree, but as in soil science, modal exists only in the mind of the searcher and, if ever found and photographed will never be found again. Indeed, upon close inspection while walking through olive groves, olive trees are, like snowflakes, no two alike. We returned through the architectural heritage treasure of Ubeda but stopped only long enough to shop before returning to camp.

April 10 Santa Elena

Today we slugged (relaxed). After a breakfast of bacon, waffles, bananas, and maple syrup with fresh coffee, we worked on catching up on our journal, photos, and trip reports. By afternoon, the warm breeze, radiant warmth of the sun, and clear blue sky were irresistible and we set off on foot to explore the countryside around the campground  A dirt track led us into a olive grove. The freshly tilled, coarse rocky soils, bright red in the sun, were uncomfortable underfoot, so we climbed to a paved lane winding through sheep pasture so closely cropped it could have been on a putting green. We found the  braying mules we had heard the day we arrived, peered into farmyards and gardens, and then followed the lane back to camp through Santa Elena. The town was refreshingly low-key, no tourist attractions or upscale restaurants, a few abandoned gardens with tumbledown walls, cinder-block construction, and a pleasant stroll. We finished our day with a lovely fennel and ham pasta in a light creamy garlic sauce; a lettuce, tomato, and cheese salad in a red wine vinaigrette, accompanied by a fine 2007 vintage Vina Espolon (Rioja tinto); and finished with dark chocolate with fresh, succulent red grapes, high fiber low calorie biscuits, and fresh coffee. Sheila’s culinary skill on a tiny two burner propane stove with minuscule counter in a cramped van never ceases to amaze me.

April 11 Santa Elena

Another slug day. After a cloudy morning, sunshine and warm winds. My journal, my email, my photos, and my back-ups are up to date, and I have time to read. Wonderful!!!
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Leaving Navijas Olive groves, Jaen Province Smoke and steam billow from an olive processing plant View from our campsite near Santa Elena In search of the modal olive tree Santa Elena