This morning, I collected the car from St George's cemetery and drove out of town towards Granada for my second visit to celebrate the Eucharist for the Salinas congregation. I made sure I was early enough to get a drink in one of the village hostelries beforehand, and take a stroll around the place with my camera. I discovered there's a working train line running through the place, that connects Cordoba with Granada, although Salinas station is no longer operational, so it's necessary to drive 18km to Loja for a train.
There were fourteen of us for a Sung Mass, with eight in the choir. Once again I enjoyed the quiet and reflective nature of the occasion. It was great to have such a good sing. We met at Bar Manolo for a drink afterwards. Curate Doreen soon arrived from taking the service and Velez Malaga so that we could have lunch together, and spend the afternoon discussing ministry and the chaplaincy. It was something we'd promised ourselves we'd do during my stay, as we did during last September's locum duty here.
It was six by the time I drove back to Malaga. The countryside of the Comarc de Noroma on the plateau 600m up behind the coastal sierras is heartbreakingly beautiful. Heartbreaking, because it's impossible to stop and take pictures where the views are best. It's so photogenic in the warmth of early evening light, richly green, but with darker greens than we get further north. The slopes grow olive and almond trees.
The rolling plains grow cereals and have recently been harvested, leaving swathes of bright golden stubble tinted red, grey or white, depending on the underlying soil. That palette of yellows and greens is so exquisite it almost moves me to tears. I can't even gaze at it on the move, as I must keep my eyes on the road! I could do with a few days to wander the back roads and capture this landscape at different times of day. Villages and farms are relatively few and far between. Three small towns along this route have Villanueva as their first name. But, it's the open rolling countryside that captures the eye.
I can see what draws painters to Spain, like Provence. I wish I could paint, not just take travel snaps. But that requires the kind of time and patience as well as vantage points I don't have. Well, at least I can talk about it!