Zahara de la Sierra e Almazara El Vinculo

It was the hottest day yet, and we were extremely inland—half way between Cádiz and Granada. HOT. Everyone was complaining while I was enjoying the tight squeeze of my skin in the Spanish sun. The combination of the heat, free chilled white wine, jamón and the scene that arose in front of me left an amazing mood hovering above my head like evaporated sweat. I was sitting in a comfortable silence next to mi amigo Antonio drinking and already enjoying the nostalgia for the pueblo we had just left. We drove up after two hours on the bus to see some of the most beautiful blue water ever—the color reminded me of a cartoon crystal or iceberg with an exuberant light blue lying in stark contrast to the burnt hills framing the lake. The pueblo itself was what you would think could only be in Greece next to the sea: white washed walls with colorful red and blue balconies with flower pots dripping off the railings–little private oasis next to the bleak and blinding white walls: a contrast reflected in the surrounding area with the bright blue lake and the brown hills, beauty next to nothing, creating a biased mirror that all can see into. The shade gave a slight relief though most of the shadows were due to the huge fortress on the very tip of the hill—the group scrambled up the mountainside fighting the heat to get the best view of the lake and the tiled rooftops. Shirts shrink-wrapped onto skin, everyone then descended and enjoyed their last moments in what everyone was calling, “what Switzerland must look like if it was in Spain”. Next stop was the olive oil factory. An outdoor patio hidden in the shade beheld a long crisp table that greeted us with white and red wine, fresh cheese drizzled in olive oil, jamón, tortillas de patatas, and bread. The heat gave the wine more power and allowed for easy conversation to flow. Outside the cool safety of the patio and into the sun stretched a vineyard, olive trees groves, and directly in front of us was Zaharra de la Sierra and its fortress hovering near the solitary cloud in the sky. Once the tour had been given and no facts were learned about the production of olive oil we all went to the local swimming hole and natural reserve. Protected from the sun by thick leaves families lay under the cool shade in the refreshing green grass. Some enjoyed the ice-cold water while some took naps under the trees. Nirvana, Paradise, Heaven: the only words that came to my brain—the entire day was fuel for my urge to become Spanish. I wish I could have a birthright to everything here–all of it: the heat, the dry beauty, and little details hidden around every street corner, todo. Deseo ser una Española.

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