Published: April 2nd 2011April 2nd 2011
Olive groves covered every single inch of arable land.
My objective today was to visit Jaen and Zuheros or Baena. And we wanted to lay in some food supplies for the week. And we wanted to cook at the house that evening. Ummm yeah…that was too tall an order to fill. The day didn’t quite work out the way in which I had envisioned.
First of all, for those of you that may or may not know, Beth & I are teaching at the same school. I am teaching Spanish. I believe that for someone acquiring a second language, classroom study is too much an abstract environment and some level of immersion is really needed to achieve some level of competency. Plus, I am an enthusiastic advocate of traveling and having what I call “the authentic experience.” I also tell my students to: “Live the life less ordinary – Live life with imagination!”
I encourage my students to think about studying abroad for a year or backpacking across Europe with a group of friends. I tell them that it neither should be thought of as too expensive or a “trip of a lifetime” as that is thinking too small. To put my money where my mouth is I invited some
A bit hazy
Zuheros sit atop a big roak.
students to travel with us on our spring break vacation to Spain. In the end only four students were able to afford to make the trip. They turned out to be excellent traveling companions. I am pleased that their first experience abroad wasn’t a banal student tour but an immersion into the authentic experience.
So anyhooooo…my objective today was to take them to less popular but equally as interesting locations in the Córdoba region. Well, it didn’t quite work out the way I planned. We started too late for one and the van that I rented was too tall to fit in public parking garages and finding parking out in the street is a tough (and time-consuming) task.
We stopped first in Zuheros and this turned out to be the highlight of the trip. This is a beautiful white pueblo with a spectacular location. Note in the pictures the amount of olive groves. The number of olive groves in this region is staggering. In some places there are groves as far as the eye can see. I usually see Italian olive oil in the states and am surprised that I don’t see more Spanish oil.
The pueblo of Zuheros is
White pueblo = tons of atmosphere.
built around a small castle on a rocky crag. The mountains around here are quite steep. There are also caves that hold many bats that come out in the evening. There is also a hiking path that connects the villages in the area. One can hike from one village to the next; I think that might be fun to do.
While we were looking around I stopped a local and asked for a dining recommendation. Happily it turned out to be right next to the castle with a very nice view. The day unfortunately was a bit hazy and there appeared to be quite a bit of springtime burning amidst the olive groves. I think that farmers the world over are a bit of pyromaniacs.
Beth & I had cochinillo de lechon (roast suckling pig), pimientos al pardon (grilled peppers), patatas fritas (fried potatoes), and boquerones (anchovies). I loved the suckling pig. The skin is crackly crunchy and the meat was tender. This was the first time I had eaten the pimientos and I ordered them every chance thereafter – they are mildly spicy, not much zing, but tasty nonetheless. I had eaten this type of anchovies before when we
Lets head thattaway
Strolling about Zuheros.
lived in Italy. I love them! They are crunchy and tasty. You pop the whole thing in your mouth. Beth wouldn’t eat them before and she tried them and liked them.
We drove onto Jaen and then things went south. We visited a castle overlooking the city and it was dominated by a parado (govt operated inn) and was a bust. We then drove around looking for a parking spot (unsuccessfully) and then threw in the towel as it was getting late. Sheesh.
We drove back to Las Pinedas and stopped in the town of Baena and did some grocery shopping. It was so late that I asked a cashier for a restaurant recommendation. Fortunately the restaurant was nearby and we could walk there; we were all starving by that time. We started with an appetizer that consisted of calamari, octopus, cod, and anchovies. The kids, to their credit, tried everything and liked some of the items. Most of us had a sea bass entrée that was universally acclaimed to be very delicious. Seafood is readily available here and is very fresh and tasty.
We then headed back and all agreed that Zuheros had been the best part of the
day. As we headed back I noted to Beth that the next time I would get a smaller van!
There are more photos below