Granada welcomed us with an inexpensive nicely decorated semi-communal hostal called Almohada. In addition, the availability of organic fruits and veggies from a tiny shop nearby and the possibility to rent movies made it impossible for us not to take a two week break from our journey.
We visited the Alhambra, walked through the narrow stone streets of the Moazzin, and searched the markets for Cherymoyas. Erika spent some extra time preparing special raw meals while OfeK searched the internet for a way to cross the atlantic by sea, and Momo was in charge of washing our laundry.
From here we decided to check out the well-known Beneficio community near Orgiva. We were a bit discouraged from what we've heard, and had the feeling it was going to end up being another chaotic, smokey-dopey and unmotivated bunch of people, but we never found out, as we walked and took a turn into the wrong riverbed, and in the wrong direction. We walked and walked through the dry river of washing machines, refrigerators, and trash, and on the way back up, spotted a narrow piece of land with a strawbale house and a few solar panels.
Denise was in the outside kitchen with the kids and OfeK asked her where Beneficio is, but also added that we didn't really want to go and asked if they were interested in some help. Denise seemed delighted with the idea, and showed us to our tent, our fanciest one yet, complete with double-strawbale-bed, at the end of their beautiful orange orchard.
On the way she warned us that They eat only organic food... OfeK mentioned that we are eating only raw, and that made Denise even more excited as she had been going in and out of eating only raw for the last few years. She showed us her raw books, and when Richard came home they unhooked the stove, took out the sprouting trays... we didn't know what to say, so we just smiled!
Denise and Richard and their three children - Evita (7), Norion (5), and Dinu (3) had been living in Orgiva for the past two years. They had lived in London previously (and Goa for a year-and-a-half before that) but decided it was no place to raise kids. Though they like living in Orgiva, Denise seems to miss the excitement of the city. Now their dream is to open an artistic resort in Morocco. Both Denise and Richard are artists (check out their website). Denise paints wonderful colorful spirals and also designed the mosaics on the floors of their house and patio. She's also a real Eurowoman - she speaks at least five languages fluently! Richard (aside from his building work and other odd jobs) carves beautiful pendants out of coconut shells.
We helped mainly with the completion of the strawbale house/room and in the round garden plots. Plastering the bottom of the bales, leveling out the floor, working on the roof, making seed balls... all to the lovely sounds of loud techno/trance music flowing from their house into the valley.
Because of Denise's love of water, especially for relaxation, the whole family would have a daily bath, sometimes even twice a day. It seemed to be a nice family ritual. Though water was scarce in those parts, they reused the water by flushing it down irrigation canals through the garden. And on that note, we noticed that they were a bit different than others we had met in their eco-awareness because though they lived simply (all in one room! though hoping to expand), with solar panels for electricity, using strawbales, buying organic food, and so on, it seemed to just be their nature, or just their common sense, not something that was discussed too often.
One purchase we made in town while we were there was a mincer (a.k.a. m**t grinder) for the purpose of making a little more variety in our meals. Because of this we ended up making a different kind of raw cake or cookies every day. The kids loved helping to make them. All together we would collect almonds from the ground, shell them, and them grind them with dates to make a crust. And then make a filling of whatever different fruits we had around and cover it with a frosting of tahini. Yum. We also would make sushi by making a pate of beans or sprouts and rolling it up with sliced veggies.
though Evita was not always the biggest fan of salads..
The town of Orgiva was nice and small with two wholefoods shops and an organic food co-op - all three in business mostly because of the foreigners. Every Thursday there was a big market in the town. It was there you could see how international the town was. There was a big presence of 'dirty hippy' types, from Beneficio and elsewhere, which really contrasted with the small-town Spanish people. Also at this market we were very excited to find Cherymoyas and avocados for really just too cheap... (2kg for a Euro) We were in heaven. We often couldn't wait until we got home with the Cherymoyas (and we also couldn't carry them all) so we would sit down and eat till our heart's content.
Erika went the last day to Beneficio, said it was a beautiful place, full of eucalyptus trees with a river running through, with even a pool to swim in. Perhaps next time we're in Orgiva we'll finally make it there.
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