Our trip to Spain started disastrously, spending the day before our flight from Italy meandering around Pisa and napping by the fan in our hostel… before realising the flight actually left the day before (apparently the 6th and the 5th are on different days, who knew?) Our new flight cost €500 and with that all our money cares went out the window and we booked a €100 hotel for our stopover in Barcelona. Now we’re really hoping our insurance company pulls through.
On the bright side, the change of flights meant we flew straight into Granada rather than having to make it all the way down from Madrid, so we hopped straight on a bus to Orgiva, a small town near the permaculture farm where we were staying.
In Orgiva we found Baraka, the café where we were meeting our host, and ate tahini on toast, omelette sandwiches and fresh orange juice for three hours, while people watching and making friends with stray dogs. Orgiva has a crazy number of expats and travellers, apparently hosting around 62 nationalities. Part of the pull are communities like Beneficio, where groups of people live on a free parcel of land on the edge of town. It attracts everyone; travelling families, backpackers and people on the fringes of society. Orgiva still holds on to its image from the civil war of being a haven for freedom fighters and liberals, and now attracts free-spirited van dwellers and off-grid enthusiasts (no idea why we liked it so much).
Our course leader Ras picked us and a few others up in a battered old van stacked with hay bales, and it climbed the rocky mountainside to drop us at his place, where we’d be staying for the next 12 days.
What followed was an incredible experience of mad note taking and meeting loads of lovely people from around the world. Ras managed to teach us everything about everything ever and more, putting up with endless questions about sacred geometry, the origins of Rastafarianism and how to make the perfect compost. Both our notebooks are now completely filled with notes and diagrams ranging from breeds of worms to Fibonacci spirals. We learnt about guerrilla gardening and made seed bombs to cover the world with, and even had a visit from a local herbalist, who taught us about making medicinal tinctures, and why urine is the best face wash.
Ras’ food garden, which he started only 3 months before the course, was a lush jungle of edibles – there were banana trees, green beans longer than our arms and squash ten times bigger than any we’ve ever seen. The olive trees around the land were also intermingled with avocados, nuts and pomegranates.
Our evenings were a mix of yoga, documentaries and full moon chanting; a few of us girls sang to the goddess and danced together in the moonlight to the beat of some drums. Ali the cook made us the most amazing meals; falafel, curries, pakoras, Harissa soup and even apple pie cooked by the heat of the sun.
On our last night the instruments came out and we drummed and sang all evening along with a guitar and double bass. We said our goodbyes in the morning (or new friend Simone had tears in her eyes, though she’ll probably deny it). Thinking that was that, we booked a few nights in Orgiva before our flight back, only to reunite with her and another girl, Lucy, and go out for really good pizza and tequilas, before collapsing into our hotel room. We made a chocolate cake run for breakfast in the early hours of the morning; 12 days of healthy food was obviously too much for our bodies.
We set off on our bus to Granada for a night before our flight home, and rented a tiny apartment where we spent the evening chilling with Lucy, who had driven up to meet us on her motorbike on her way back to the UK. We cooked her our travel go-to, ‘pasta and fried stuff,’ and stuffed ourselves with a new favourite chocolate bar (Milka Triple, it was gone in seconds).
We’re now home, catching up on sleep and planning the next step of our van DIY. We’re appreciating the luxury of a bath and fridge again, but we’ve learnt so much and met so many great people, we’ll hopefully keep feeling the inspiration for our next leg of travels.