thomas m wilson

Guadix and Caminito del Rey

June 5th, 2023

Last week I was in Guadix: I and a friend took the train an hour to the east of Granada, to this small town.  The train passed on a high plateau, overlooking a vast valley bordered on either side by arid erosion canyons, and topped to small trees and shrubs.  It looked exactly like the Wild Western movies of the 60s looked.  These films were supposedly set in Arizona or Texas, but were often shot in this very area of southern Spain, arid and wild, and cheaper to film in. 

Badlands… Sometimes a train ride is worth the price of admission for the journey itself.
Coming back from Guadix – this country is gorgeous, despite its recent drought.

These landscapes I travelled through were ennobling.  I imagined Clint Eastwood on his horse standing on a ridge and looking out over the same valley I looked out over…  The rider shifting in his saddle, the leather creaking slightly, the sun smiling warmly down from the heavens, the adventure beckoning around the next corner.  A feeling of freedom, freedom from the tawdry rigmarole of twenty-first century domesticity, detail and disconnection.  Freedom to live or to die with a little more heroism and poetry.

And then yesterday I left Granada and headed to a place an hour north of Malaga called Caminito del Rey. An old hydro project had left a narrow walk way down a gorge which has since 2015 been a very successful and safe guided walk.

This is a 300 metre deep gorge of sandstone and limestone cliffs, with a little boardwalk drilled into the stone, so that we walked 100 metres above the raging river below, along a metre wide wooden plank path.  Along sheer cliffs sides.  When the valley opened up I left the tour group and walked by myself under the pines, along the dry path, looking down on aromatic herbs and flowers covering the valley bottom and sides.  The place has a genuine majesty.  I felt uplifted and deeply satisfied by this walk down the valley by myself.  The walk along the cliff faces was thrilling, but it was the walk by myself along the valley under the trees that was most special, with intimations of the majesty of these mountains surrounded me, connotations of Majorca, or the Gorge de Verdon..

It is my last evening in Spain and Granada.  Tomorrow I travel to Greece. I am excited for the next chapter.  But also will be slightly sad to leave this city with its wonderfully young population, connected inhabitations/inhabitants, general vivacity, aged and venerable architecture, towering Sierra Nevada frame, trickling fountains from which you can drink, and cosmopolitan downtown plazas.