As child I never quite saw the benefit or enjoyment in a long slow car journey to some sparsely populated beauty spot in order to see ‘the view’ as my parents would say. I was only interested in three things, where can I play, what’s in the picnic basket, & what time are we going home.

With the passage of time, I am becoming that which I vowed I would not, could not, become – my father. Said as an obstinate teen, the older I become the lesser the distain & the greater the sense of pride, should I develop into half the man he was.

This post is not about my childhood or my lineage, more so how the simpler things in life are sometimes squandered upon the young.

Driving into the hills outside Fuengirola, one can marvel at the vista from the Mijas Pueblo. A small village which was originally the administrative centre for the area, hence the name Costa Mijas. I love this little village for the views along the coast are quite breathtaking, but also watching the donkey and horse taxis tootling along the tiny streets. I was shocked at my first sight of these. I despised the idea of these beasts being cruelly laboured all in the name of tourism. Of course nothing is farther from the truth. The operators care more for the animal than some humans care for each other.

Costa Mijas from Mijas Pueblo

Another attraction at Mijas is the little stone church that looks over the entire coast from Torremolinos to Fuengirola. Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña is not a church but a Hermitage. Marking a vision of the Virgin Mary who was reported to have appeared between the walls. The place having to be hidden away during the Muslim inhabitance of Spain. Not just a holy site but a holy sight.

Ermita de la Virgen de la Peña

Travelling further into the mountains you will see the signposts for Alhaurín el Grande.  Extending from the northern slope of the Sierra de Mijas and the plain of the Guadalhorce river, where alternate crops of citrus and other fruit trees orchards are found. The origin of the name was given by the Arabs, who called it “Alhaurin”, where the Catholic Monarchs added “el Grande” to distinguish it from the neighboring town of Alhaurín de la Torre after the conquest of both sites in 1485. As you meander through twisting roads, suddenly an ancient fort appears.

Ruinas de la Fortaleza de Fahala o Castillo de la Reina

Travelling a few more kilometres and towns such as Coín and Cártama are within your grasp. Golf courses are everywhere and you are reminded you aren’t really in Spain – you’ve entered Sève Country – Ballestros.

Coín is a more British than Spanish these days & Cártama takes its name from the ancient word for hidden. A hidden treasure of course, this is Andalusia! Cártama boasts another hermitage. Even in the midst of the over urbanised Costa, we head for the sun, sea, & the sangria if only to get away from the banal, for a while. For most, it is a period of two weeks – for some of us, a lifetime … to be continued!

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