It’s no secret that Spain, especially here in the south, commemorates the festival of Easter in a big way. Semana Santa, or Holy Week is for many an emotionally charged time; youngsters, even if they are not particularly religious in their everyday lives, take the opportunity of being in a parade very seriously; and for many towns and villages the processions bring communities together, irrespective of religion.
Sunday is usually the most upbeat of parades, marking for Catholics here the resurrection of Jesus.
I’ve been lucky enough to experience Easter in Seville (probably the most extravagant processions in Europe) and also in other Andalusian towns such as Malaga – but it is in the villages that Easter Sunday can be the most enjoyable.
We took a table in the main village square in Tolox and enjoyed some Sunday morning drinks as we waited for the procession to leave the church. The ‘trono’ with the icon of Jesus on top is typical of those in the villages, more modest and humble than the highly ornate ones seen in the cities – I have to say I much prefer these small scale processions much more.
Behind the trono, held aloft by local men, is the village band.
The rain over the past few days has kicked off the spring wild flower season
The Sierra de las Nieves natural park is full of trails and hikes and significant investment has been made in markers, maps, information points and even recreation areas, with loos, showers for campers and areas to picnic and BBQ.
Head out of Guaro on the A366 towards Ronda and head up into the mountains and the park. After the village of Yunquera, look out for the 27km marker; shortly after on the left is a dirt forest trail to ’Los Sauces’.
Here starts a 18km round trail that takes you through great mountain scenery, forests and past interesting sites like an old fish farm, a ruined cortijo, an old water mill and the remnants of the ‘Convent de las Nieves’ that fell into ruins over a century again when church funding was removed.
Still marking the trail are ancient crosses, from the time of the convent. They are rich in detail, with Jesus on one side, and the Madonna and child on the other.
The track is in good shape, so you can drive it in an hour or more; or there are nearby stables offering horse riding; the route takes 3 hours; or alternatively its 2 hours by bicycle – hiking is a day. The high point is ‘el Puerto de la mujer’ offering amazing views.
You can drive a bit, leave the car and then walk if you just want to get a flavour of this part of the park.