What Mountains Know. Coming home to the jalon valley in Spain


A home is a place to return to,

For it never truly belongs to you. We are merely passing through it.

My valley home says that I belong for now – and ‘welcome Home.

The Jalon Valley (Xalo) nestles between mountains at the entrance to the Val de Pop in the Costa Blanca which in translation means; The White Coast, a popular place for mostly European tourists since the 1960’s.

Before Covid, we also welcomed here American, Chinese and Australians. Generally the traveller types brave enough to venture away from Barcelona and Madrid. This country braved explorers throughout history, (some not so nice and too many to mention, but please, let us keep them to the history books.)

The Spanish people today are not responsible for what their ancestors did. Amongst every conquistador, there was a farmer trying to feed his family. You learn that when you travel. The humans that should represent the history of the world, are the silent survivors. They are the people that strive for peace and not glory and never worried about having a bronze statue of their image, or a gold plaque on their door to be remembered. However, whether the Moors were invaders, conquerers or just travellers, they bought cultures that we embrace to this day. This is why, as humans, we are constantly on the move and should continue to do so as long as we do it peacefully and with humility. We should all know this by now.

Ten months of being away from all that is familiar, I am eager to return. There is a new road, rocks and boulders create new walls and boundaries. An extension is created to the side of a mountain slope, by dusty road workers wearing sun hats and proudly holding stop signs. Their diggers have cut into an ancient landscape, defiantly; for it tries to resist change crumbling only to allow a few modifications.

In my minds eye, imagination enters, a picture forms in the squint of my vision, A Sultan sits high on his decorated horse, where silk tassels hang loosely over the smooth white bristled skin of his horse. The beast digs his hooves into the rocky path, eager to move on in the mid day heat, The Sultan grips the rein of red fringe. He watches over the changes of times. Then turns to gallop up the mountainside, disappearing into the cotton ball cloud .

But our valley remains the same as the road that winds in between the gift of a trail through the mountains. Gifted by mother nature herself as she has brought the rains and lightening storms which have carved and painted a landscape of magnificent water colour. A piece of art so unlike the diggers that create the dust. I drive on and enter the picture the story mother nature proceeds to tell and will never stop telling.

Open roads stretch out the landscape of the Jalon Valley. Smaller roads criss-cross over the vineyards. Cyclists whizz past or hog the road.

Grape vines, cover the terrain bought into Spain by the Moorish travellers who made their way up from North Africa. I glance up once again to my Moorish soldier with gratitude, The Muslim farmers of 1472 became the most important suppliers of Muscat raisins to the markets of the Kingdom of Valencia. They were here yesterday too in spirit as we sip wine from dusty bottles. Wine flows here as almond blossom blows. Large and small avocados grow in the hot sun, as do pomegranates picked and then sold from a market stall in a carpark. Dry green leaves compliment the yellow skins of lemons which had earlier hung laden in trees whose branches, heaving and heavy with fruit, kiss the ground tenderly. Oranges grapefruits and peaches, lush from the earth, placed on our tables to add colour and aroma. We have tasted the same as all who followed the citrus aroma here along the winding trail that brings you into the Jalon Valley.

Some stay, some settle, some only take memories.

Spanish French, British, Dutch and Belgiums all converse together here. Some buy homes, some just visit. All remember the church tower in the square, put there to remind us that there was a god that ruled over the landscape. Maybe it was Allah or a Roman God, The gods changed over time as they often do but the wine never changes, it only gets better. Some would believe the gods poured the wine. The Romanesque church which glitters with gold on the inside continues to reminds me how the Moors had to leave this landscape. The sour taste lingers which we learn to wash away with time. Thanks to the universe for given time. Thank the Valley for teaching us to welcome new cultures and to willingly add them to a community worth loving.

I favour a different view over gods pouring the wine. Maybe the local grape pickers of long ago said it was the music of the Spanish guitar enticing thoughts of hot nights and Spanish Senorita’s clicking their heels and lowering their lashes. Did that make the wine flow. What happened after the wine we should not say? What happens here can secretly stay here. This landscape, the temptress in disguise, some might say. So much more romantic.

‘Allelujah!’

Calls out the bar owner, through the sunlight streaming through his doorway, Lemons, avocados and ripe red tomatoes, fill the baskets at his feet, freshly picked from his garden. He high fives me, His grin depicting Spanish village life. Community matters, it is his livelihood. His attire simple and raw as natural cotton. Gentle but firm, he guides us to a wooden bench where we sit eating olives. and dip bread in home made alioli. His kids work the bar and kitchen. Family is crucial. Family is everything. Family and good friends are what you come home to.

A few metres down is Casa Claudia, Locals meet and greet each other over coffee and the odd tipple as they sit on her terrace and watch the world go by. Claudia tells me ‘We are not a bar or a restaurant, we are a home and we never close until everyone has left. You can rest assured she is open on Mondays when other places take a day off. Good luck to the people with enthusiasm. Her hard work is appreciated by walkers with weary feet who need a break and visitors who want to feel like locals.

https://www.facebook.com/casaclaudia

My favourite season is spring when the valley covers herself in a pink layer of Almond blossom. We walk with others, talking and breathing in new beginnings bringing ideas. The valley speaks and says ‘walk more.’ For your life for your health, it will bring wealth. She speaks with wisdom. So I am happy to leave again to travel because I know the valley will always welcome me home with some new stories.

COVID UPDATE. The local communities in Spain have taken the issue of Covid19 very seriously. The Jalon valley and surrounding areas have seen few cases but you can still be fined in certain areas for not wearing a mask. Please be responsible if you visit our valley and always check travel advice beforehand so you remain safe.

Just came across this little gem, and ideal place in the centre of the Jalon Valley. Walking distance to shops, banks, bars and restaurants. Not far from river. Beaches 15/20 mins. I am going to rent this for over a month before I venture out to Turkey. It is on the market for 115 Euros about $135 565. perfect for holiday rentals or a second home in Spain. Maybe a first home. One of those places that feel nice when you walk in. No agency so give me a call and I will put you in touch with the owners.

If you enjoyed this article I would love you to buy a coffee as all proceeds will be going to help school children in India and the Sacksham project. It only takes a click and about $4 but every coffee helps. https://www.buymeacoffee.com/laurenstaton

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