Saturday, April 2, 2011

Road Tripping in Spain: Caravaca de la Cruz

Buenos Dias Bloggy Friends,

Getting oriented
For the next leg of our trip we wanted to experience a different side of Spain, so we jutted westward to Caravaca de la Cruz, a small mountain-hugged town located in the Murcia Region. The drive in was gorgeous — with grassy mountain ranges and orange plantations sprouting up all around us — but our arrival into Caravaca was a disaster. Like in Barcelona, I took a wrong turn that led us into an area of narrow streets full of cafés and locals walking their donkeys. There we were, bopping our big ass car over cobblestones, trying our best to squeeze around corners that would suffocate a Smart Car. I was about an inch from throwing my trembling hands up and abandoning the vehicle on the spot.

And then, when we thought it couldn’t get worse, we came to a café with tables and chairs lined up out front. Poor Alan had to walk in and beg the waitress, who didn’t speak a lick of English, to move the tables so we could get past. Thankfully, she obliged and we finally made our way to a normal street where we parked that son of a bitch in the first spot we could find.

At the Basilica
Feeling a little defeated, we made our way to Hotel Central where we unloaded our belongings and set out to see what Caravaca de la Cruz was all about. What we found is that it’s an extremely religious town, built around the Basilica of the Santisima y Vera Cruz, which houses the almighty Caravaca Cross. It is purported that this bejeweled relic — delivered to the city by angels — is made from the cross on which Christ was crucified. Surrounding the church is a labyrinth of tiny, terra-cotta-roofed homes, a dozen or so other churches and a main drag called Gran Via where the locals go to mingle.

For the two nights we were there, we spent our time roaming alleyways, touring churches and, of course, sampling the food and wine of the region. What stood out for us were the desserts. Alan particularly loved the Yemas, a local delicacy made from egg yolks and served dipped in chocolate or caramel. We’ve definitely eaten well since we’ve been away and, yes, Bill, we drank enough wine and espresso to make you take a second look.

Popping a squat
For us, Caravaca de la Cruz is about as off-the-beaten-path as it gets. Besides religious-types who come to worship at the cross, there doesn’t seem to be much of a tourist presence, so no one speaks English. We had to rely on what little Spanish we know and universal hand gestures, which made for more than a few uncomfortable situations. And because it’s such a teeny, everybody-knows-everybody town, we felt like we stuck out like sore thumbs. By the end of the trip, though, we started to see familiar faces and began to feel like a part of the goings on. A few people even stopped ask how we were doing ... at least I think that's what they were asking.

While I’m glad we had a chance to experience this aspect of Spanish living, I have to admit that I’m more than ready to move on to a more thriving, cultured metropolis. Granada, here we come!




Bill Fogle said...

Oh good Lord, girl, you had me laughing the whole time I was reading this (well, you and three glasses of red wine). This reads like Erma Bombeck in Spain!!!

I like this entry the best! Maybe because I thought the town sounded the best. I applaud you for going to this kind of place ... I think you made the right decision and saw something others might not have. The photo of that old due sitting up against the ... statue thing brought tears to my eyes. That was a good photo.

Keep at the Rioja, Sisteroja!

Bill Fogle said...

TYPO: "old DUDE"

Ellie said...

I love this post. Especially "I was about an inch from throwing my trembling hands up and abandoning the vehicle on the spot." Hee. Glad you guys are having such an adventure!