Bubion was the first place we were going to stay in Las Alpujarras. We arrived in mid-morning and after grabbing fruit, vegetables, and bread from the mobile shops on their daily visit to the village, we set off on a local walk making sure to fill our water bottles at the fountain where potable water poured from 3 spouts. In the fields the complex system of irrigation channels introduced by the Moors were still being used and were full of water, due to an exceptionally late snowfall in May, 3 months prior to our visit. Occasional stone threshing platforms and high walls of rocks that supported terraces lined the route. The village of Pampaneira was a suitable stop for a coffee and a chance to sample some of the local wines and sherries. Even in a simple bodega, customers still get served with tapas cut from the hams that were being air-dried on the premises, a source of wealth for some of the mountain villages in Las Alpujarras.

The path continued to a small valley and started to ascend its side with a line of white houses on a ridge as the destination. An old mill lay in ruins by the stream, evidence that the communal nature of food production in Las Alpujarras is declining. The mill would have been used by the community for grinding corn and the terraced holding ponds were still intact on the hillside. There was no shortage of groundwater to power the mill even on the steep track. Another manifestation of decline is that at one time people would band together to rebuild broken-down terrace walls, but this no longer happens as often. The loss of people to the big cities is hurting the villages and the people who replace them only maintain a seasonal presence, which in turn hits local businesses. When they close, the village is no longer as attractive to visitors, who then either sell up and leave or just don’t come as often. This trend combined with the aging population could lead to villages gradually being abandoned. Of all the pupils from Las Alpujarras who go to boarding school in Granada and the other Andalucian cities, only 2 % return to live in their village when their education is complete.

Continued the same time tomorrow