Otherwise known as Ronda.
Here’s a summary of our first taste of what lies beyond Rota from this past weekend. After we finished our week long orientation class on Friday, we signed up for an excursion offered through our recreation desk on Base. Saturday morning we left our dusty little patch in Rota and took a tour bus into the windy, hilly (but still dry) Ronda in the Malaga province.
Ronda is beautiful with several gardens, long walking avenues lined with shops, and has been around for a long, long time, home to many battles and many rebellions. Its walls might be painted white, but it seems that its past runs red.
The mountaintop city, made up of a few of points on the top of a rocky edifice, is probably what dreams were made of during the time of horseback led conquests. Gradually, three bridges were erected to connect the different islands in the sky, with the newest bridge, Puento Nuevo, completed in the early 1800’s, also lending itself to some of the most stunning pictures.
More recently, Orson Welles and Ernest Hemmingway were fans of the city, spending a lot of time here writing about Ronda’s beauty and its bull fighting. Speaking of that…ahem, sport…our tour took us to the local bullring, the Plaza de Toros, which seems a lot bigger once you’re standing on the dirt grounds looking around to the stands. I’m not crazy about the slaughter, er, tradition, but isn’t it nice to know that all the meat is donated to orphanages now? Yes? No? Hmm.
Our tour also took us inside a few churches, including this one, Santa Maria la Mayor. We tiptoed around looking at ornate shrines and relics while trying not to disturb the glowing parents and be-gowned babies lined up at the baptismal font.
We also got to stroll around the courtyard and garden of one of the old houses of Ronda, learning why there are two levels for the wealthy homes. In the old days in summer, everybody lived downstairs in the cool marble air, and in winter, everybody migrated upstairs to catch that last bit of heat before it disappeared through said marble walls. Good to know that the materials here are right for keeping homes cool but less so for keeping warm. Mental note to stock up on rugs and blankets and 18th century tapestries.
After a lunch of stewed bull’s tail (of which I could take or leave), we wandered into a candy shop for sugared nuts, found ourselves a postcard, and took the tour bus the sleepy hour and a half back home.
Bit by bit, Spain is starting to put itself together for me.