Published: December 15th 2005December 15th 2005
The Kombi should say it all...
Well, if for some reason I wasn't coming across as random enough for you up until now, then get a load of this!
Some American girls I met at the hostel, in passing comment mentioned that they'd met a 'friendly hippie' at the markets who invited them to come and stay at a commune up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. They didn't really know much else about it apart from the mud map this guy had drawn them, and they didn't really seem too serious about the idea. However, as if by some cosmic destiny, I had, at that particular point in time drunk too much coffee and on hearing this, decided to pour all of my caffeine-induced mania into convincing them to actually do it!
So then next thing I knew, the five of us: Bridget, Nora (I told them to marry me if they wanted to make their names cool :), Katie, Kat and me plus an American couchsurfer dude, Nick were all in a car driving into the sunset bound for the snow encrusted Sierra Nevada!
After a stomach-wrenching 50ks of hairpin bends and rollercoaster-like hills we arrived in a clearing at the
end of a dirt track that was parked full of alternative-looking motor dwellings. On asking a friendly bear-of-a-man in Pigeon Spanish if this was Beneficio, we had the bloody obvious confirmed and were told to trek another half k or so through the Eucalyptus forest until we saw a big Tipi. We were going to take a couple of bottles of wine, but were thankfully told that it was actually alcohol and drug(!!?)-free! So with ukulele and djembes in hand, we hiked up the hill to find the biggest tipi I've ever seen with smoke meandering out the top of it and music wafting out the side.
Stepping inside was like entering some Easy Rider-inspired acid trip and instantly put us all in a warm fuzzy 'peace, love and pass the mung beans' frame of mind. We were welcomed by about 30 people sitting around a cozy campfire jamming on all sorts of instruments, speaking in about 5 different languages (occasionlly at the same time) and sharing herbal tea, bread and baked potatos amongst themselves. I don't think I actually said anything to anyone, but rather just sat down as if in a daze and started playing! They went though all kinds of gypsy, flamenco, reggae and tribal african drum music and we all just kind of sat there absorbing it for the next few hours.
They told us to sleep in the tipi next to the camp fire because it was too Farking Cold to sleep anywhere else. It turned out me and Nora were the only ones smart enough to bring sleeping bags so Nick and Katie were invited to sleep in a camper-truck with a built in Pot-belly and the rest of us just had to snuggle up and keep warm. There was something strange and wonderful about going to sleep around a campfire in a tipi while listening to chilled out guitar and a couple of people speaking in hushed Spanish. Similarly, we were woken up in the morning by another guy on guitar and a little kid (similar in appearance to the Feral Kid from Mad Max!) prattling away in Spanish. I LOVE SPANISH! From this moment (well, actually quite a a few moments ago) I'm dedicating myself to learning it, so I can sound all cool and write romantic flamenco songs that nobody can understand!
After earning our keep by collecting wood and doing the dishes, we eventually headed off (I decided I probably shouldn't miss ANOTHER flight back to the UK!) and were left with the feeling of just having had some phsycadelic experience.
So next time in Spain, I know where I'm ACTUALLY going to live! (The Sacromonte cave can be my "classy condo" in the city) The commune has been there for 15 years and there are over 200 people living there! It's amazing to actually see that kind of thing still happening. Kind of makes me want to become a hippie. ;)