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Cowbells and cortijos: a poem about Andalucía

Written by Chris Bladon | 6th March 2019 |

Category: Spain, Stories

Spain andalucia sheep cortijo zuheros walk copyright chris bladon pura aventura

I must confess, I haven't written a poem since I was pressed into doing so for my GCSE English. It's not a medium I have ever been friends with. I'm far more comfortable with a camera in hand or the freedom to write unconstrained. But then I went to Andalucía and something happened. I came over all poetic. So here goes - my amateur attempt to convey what I experienced on a circular walk from Zuheros. I hope you enjoy it, or at the very least that it doesn't bring the medium into disrepute.

Cowbells and cortijos

Cowbells clang and vultures soar
As I follow drover's paths established centuries before
Orange caves perch above a waterless stream
I glimpse the clean white village through the walls of the ravine

The path meanders on until two valleys collide
I bid adios to the sky and it's into the darkness I stride
In an enchanted wood of Mediterranean holm oak
An ethereal grey mist creates an almost permanent cloak

Moss and lichen thrive on the silvery branches
Painting on a thick coat of green as time ever advances
In the cool of the trees the mood is palpably stern
But at a sudden grass clearing the sun makes its return

Some sheep graze merrily at a ruined cortijo
A crumbling stone farmhouse, abandoned a long time ago
Once a traditional home until a change was imposed
Now the roof has gone missing and wooden beams are exposed

A good spot for lunch is one with a view
A small valley, a lush forest and the odd goat or two
I unwrap a sandwich of jamón and cheese
Food always tastes better with a blue sky and soft breeze

I'm invited to linger as the sun warms my face
What a rare pleasure indeed to live life at this pace
There's that clang again, a now familiar bell
It's January the third, but you really couldn't tell

Onwards I roam through a sweeping wide valley
The sight of limestone cliffs more than enough reason to dally
High on the hill a shepherd leads on his flock
I wonder to myself how does he stop them running amok?

Up at the hilltop plains roll out before me
Miniature olive groves as far as the eyes see
A genial smell drifts into my nose
Traced back to a spot where some lavender still grows

I rejoin the road where the path meets its end
On the smooth black tarmac I begin to descend
A view over Zuheros half-covered in shade
The castle catches the sun as the light starts to fade

Back in the white village, 8 miles covered on foot
There's a once brilliant white chimney now blackened with soot
The car awaits next to the path were I began
My footprints are long faded but the memories will remain

If you'd like to create your own memories in Andalucia, including from this walk, may I direct you towards our Andalucia Explorer self-drive itinerary?

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Further reading

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Walking Ruby through the olive groves of Andalucía

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Learning 'How to Travel' in Andalucía

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