Ronda, Spain

March 8-10, 2000

While on the bus to Ronda, I noticed the girl in front of me reading pages from my favorite guidebook and she found Ronda to be a good break away from the cities on her tour (another Aussie... they are everywhere!) so we ended up chatting and spending the next 24 hours together.

Samīs the kind of chick you might script for a film. Adventurous, hard working and pretty smart. She just bought a house 3 weeks before going to travel (now renting it out) and went in on a van to tour Europe with when she meets up with "īer mates."

Anyway, we passed an awesome looking place on there way there with large green lochs and then approached Ronda, our destination, which looked pretty lame on the approach, but wandering down the street and hitting the gorge makes it all worthwhile.

The drop must be a few hundred meters of almost straight down beauty. A winding path will take you down to the bottom where youīll hear the trickles of water and stumble upon archways from Roman and Moorish ruins.

Ronda is also claimed to be the home of bullfighting. In the tiny bull fight museum, pictures of the matadors, their outfits and the heads of the bulls deck the hall. Most of the bullīs ears are gone since they are given as trophies. I suppose theīd make a good key chain for a matador.

Not far from that is the Bandit Museum where the arrest warrants and other documents on famous Spanish banditīs coat the walls. Wax museum like mannequins show one of the more famous banditios hiding out in a cave. He was found and "taken down" there.

If you donīt mind climbing back up, the walk down the path is well worth it. Sam had to head off, but I decided to spend the night someplace more interesting than a hotel on my own, so after another stroll through town, I returned to the gorge again on my own. I waited until the fall of night and then went places that were too dodge for some of the others to explore during the day.

While waiting, I was approached by four children on bicycles. They were amused that I could hardly speak Spanish, but tried to speak with my the best they could. One was also particularly interested in my packs and I kept a good leash on them and an eye on the innocent looking wandering hands. Better safe then sorry. When I woke up in the morning and I couldnīt find my toothbrush, I thought, "thatīs what those bastard punks were after!" Then I found it a few moments later remembering the sweet children so amazed by the new kid in town.

I found three excellent sleeping places. One in a prime location for getting back into town; however, it was small, dusty and had an odor to it. It served well as a place to stash stuff.

Another was on top of an archway where the trail went through. There was a corner where I could climb up and next mostly out of view of anyone on the approaching path.

Continuing down another fork of the path I looked back through another archway to see the misty moon hanging in the doorway. This was good. The fog should hold some of the dayīs warmth and keep the night warm. I debated running all the way up to dig out my camera for a shot, but figured this would be one to be remembered from memory.

The third hideout was an amazing discovery. Checking out all the caves, this one opened up into a huge room and then a hole that dropped into a whole other level! Another room was after that and it seemed perfect, but the bats who live there donīt sleep at night and I think theyīd try to convert me to do the same. Not to mention, the potential for creepy crawlies of every kind could be here. It was so well hidden that it was hard to see again in the day (although it could be found if you knew where to nudge around in the bush), which was also a minus. Should anything go wrong, it wouldnīt be easy to sneak out through the pitch dark entrance way. Maybe this is the place were one of the bandits dwelled...

I decided on the archway. The night began to clear, but the whole night was still warmer than in the hotel the night before! You could hear the dogs and wolves all through the valley and for the most part, they didnīt seem to be moving or getting very close, but there were hourly chants and barks. Some of the squeals would make you thing it was your stomach talking, but there was no rumble there. It made me feel like howling at the moon myself! I refrained, not wishing to send out the wrong message to my canine neighbors.

Before Sunrise, I packed up walked back up the path and dug out my stash. I emerged into the plaza full of dust, but pulled out a perfectly fresh baguette from my pack and had breakfast in the magical hour of golden horizontal light beaming through the inhabited buildings on the ridge.

A final walk to where Sam & I had our picnic lunch, with a splendid view nearby and the fresh smell of the wind, gave me my last chance to take another snapshot. All the bread crumbs left were now gone and so soon would I be.

countries list