El Chorro Welcomes Red Pearson

el chorro welcomes Red Pearson

Red’s next day trip took her to El Chorro, which of course had its hiccups in terms of knowing where in the world we were going. I don’t think I can remember an outing in Spain when we didn’t get lost, which is all part of the adventure of learning your way around a new place. That, and the fact I have absolutely no sense of direction. I’m driving up to El Chorro Spainthe driver in the family because, if you can believe it, my husband never learned how to drive. Yes I knew it when I met him, yes I knew what I was getting into, but it doesn’t stop it from being a sore point and driving me crazy!!!!!

Using a sat nav for the very first time!!

Anyway… my neighbour Mike offered to lend me his pre-programmed satnav for the outing. It’s the first time I’ve ever used one, so it was interesting. I don’t know what my favourite part was – watching my husband use spit to attach it to the windshield, or the holder not being the right fit for the device so it would fall out, then turn off when you tried to snap it back in.

For some reason Mike told me not to use the pre-programmed route for the trip out, but instead gave me other directions and said Stella (my husband named the sat nav!!) would re-calibrate and guide us from the new starting point.

Well, after trying to get me to make u-turns for the first few minutes, she finally understood I was on a different route and she’d have to adapt, which she did, thankfully! Mike’s directions made no sense so if not for Stella we breathtaking scenery in the El Chorro areanever would have had the beautiful day out that we did.

Anyway, having someone tell me where to go was a wonderful change from me having to focus on crazy serpentine roads, while glancing at my written directions in my notebook.

Why isn’t my husband navigating since he doesn’t drive you ask? I ask myself the same question, but he’s a terrible navigator and it only leads to arguments. He refuses to understand that saying “there” is not a detailed enough description of where my next step should be. He also will not tell me the next part of the directions in advance.

Anyway, at one point Stella said “arriving at your destination” then stopped talking. Based on the scenery I knew we were in the general vicinity, but not actually in El Chorro. I knew that because there were no signs welcoming me!!

With Stella silenced we decided to keep driving, as much as aimless driving in foreign countries does not appeal to me. After 20 minutes of that we actually found what we were looking for…the beginning of it anyway.

A quick pit stop before the pièce de résistance

In my previous post on Red’s adventures in Antequera, I mentioned my husband’s need for coffee, and how it must happen before 12:00. Red seemed like she needed a pee anyway (she’s been drinking and peeing more and Red enjoying a snack before getting to El Chorrowe know that’s never good), so we stopped at a gas station with a lovely outdoor restaurant. My husband skipped the coffee and went straight for the beer, usually allowed only after 12:00 even though it was 11:50 – his rule not mine!! Both dogs had a “comfort” break and Red had a snack.

Following the signs

No offence to anyone, but in my 3½ months of driving in Spain, I don’t think I’m wrong when I say the signs here suck! Not the signs per se, but rather the lack of them and their location. They put the sign with the arrow by a dirt road, many of which I have driven up in error, only to discover the arrow pointing to the road isn’t where they wanted you to drive. They expected you would carry on a bit further, then completely miss the turnoff because there’s no sign.

Anyway, thankfully El Chorro had some signs, and we just headed straight.

What is El Chorro?

Let me give you a bit of information here, then I’ll carry on with my experiences.

El Chorro is a small town located in Malaga province, in the Andalucia region of Spain, near a town called Alora. The area is breathtakingly beautiful with turquoise lakes and is hugely popular with mountain bikers, hikers and El Chorro lakescampers. As it is located next to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (“Gorge of the Gaitanes”), it is one of the most popular rock climbing sites in Spain.

Caminito del Rey

The gorge is famous for a walkway called Caminito del Rey (King’s Pathway) which hangs 100m above the base of the gorge. A challenge for those with a fear of heights, it takes 3-4 hours to walk and is worth it if you can handle it. You have to book and pay in advance, so we didn’t do the walk…of course we had the dogs and I don’t like heights so I can’t use that fact as an excuse!! The newly refurbished walkway opened in March 2015, but here’s a bit of interesting info about the history from the caminodelrey.es website.

“El Caminito del Rey”, in English, (“The King’s little pathway”) was initially built as an access route. It enabled workers at the hydroelectric power plants of El Chorro Gorge and Gaitanes Gorge with an easier way to transport materials, maintain and inspect the workings of the two power plants. Construction of the “walkway” began in 1901 and was finished in 1905 and in 1921 King Alfonso XIII visited and walked along the path for the walking along the Caminito del Rey pathinauguration of the Conde del Guadalhorce dam and since that time it became known as the “Kings path… The area is a mecca for climbers and the Caminito del Rey became known as one of the most impressive and dangerous mountain trails in the world (as the many videos on you tube certainly demonstrate.) But, after several people lost their lives on the walkway (in 1999 and 2000) both access points were demolished by local authorities and access prohibited.”

Back to our day out!

I can’t possibly describe the sheer beauty of turning a bend in the road and looking down to see turquoise coloured lakes. Most of the roads here don’t have places to stop, but happily this one had lots of little areas to park for photo ops and to simply enjoy “being” in the magnificence of it all.

The ride up to the dam is made up of massive rocks on one side, and serpentine roads that somehow accommodate tour buses and cars that look like they won’t pass each other safely. It was a bit hair-raising a couple of times (a one lane road, two way traffic with a cliff on one side, solid rock on the other and no shoulder – somehow it worked though!), but thankfully there were no incidents.

One way in, almost no way out

As we continued our climb we came to another spectacular turquoise body of water which is where the dam was. Ready to stop, have a snack and just enjoy the beautiful hot sunny day, we followed all the other cars to a crazy El Chorro with Redcongested area, a parking lot with no space, massive tour buses, hundreds of people and several cafes and restaurants.

After a moment of claustrophobia and wondering “how in the world will I be able to get down a road with cars and buses blocking most of it! I informed hubby there was no chance I was staying so we hightailed it out of there. I don’t know about you, but I can’t enjoy such a stunning vista with throngs of humanity around. Away from the crowds we found a little area off the road, big enough to fit one car. I tucked myself in there, Red and Jack had a bit of a break and another photo op.

Time for some peace and tranquility

As magnificent as the scenery is as you drive, not only do you want the chance to stand in the middle of it and stretch your legs, it’s only fair the driver gets to enjoy it, not just the passenger!

After we had seen and done and photographed, we headed back to find a quieter place to sit…and we found it. A place we noticed on our drive up, it was a beautiful spot, place for parking, right on the water with the sheer rock El Chorro restaurant with Jack and Redface in front, and a bird’s eye view of the Caminito del Ray. We parked, enjoyed and went across the road to a lovely little restaurant.

When my husband pointed out the For Sale sign I couldn’t resist asking. I love Spain, love the language, and of course the opportunity to help so many animals in desperate need. Asking price – around 1 million euros! Well it did come with 3 or 4 houses, the restaurant, land and the stray cats!!!

If anyone has that kind of money to offer I can make a huge difference with it!!

We sat, enjoyed the hot sunny weather, beautiful view of the mountains and the link of hikers on their 4 hour trek. I had a lovely cool agua con gas, hielo y limon (soda water with ice and lemon) and a delicious tortilla. I met a stray who lives there and saw her adorable 4 day old kittens. I usually give my “why don’t you fix your cats” speech, but my Spanish is too basic and they didn’t speak any English. I don’t usually let that kind of opportunity pass me by but…

Heading home

What’s great about bringing the dogs is there’s no watching of the clock, conscious of how long you’ve been gone, or having to drag yourself to the pet sitter to pick them up. Stella did a good job of guiding us home, and we got to at El Chorro taking a selfie with Redenjoy another beautiful site.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Red’s recent adventure, and another example of having your senior dog join in the family fun. If you’ve been leaving your furry friend at home because you aren’t able to lift him in and out of the car, or he can’t keep up, do what I did. Get yourself a ramp and a pet stroller – they’ll make a world of difference to all of you.

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Hindy Pearson
Helping people care for their senior dogs
I am a certified dog trainer and pet care consultant, specialising in working with rescue dogs and first time pet parents. I foster and adopt senior and special needs dogs, and advocate for shelter adoption of all animals, particularly older dogs and cats. I am currently working on a spay/neuter program in Spain.

30 Comments

  1. Debbie Bailey

    El Chorro looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your experience there. I’m adding Caminito del Rey to my bucket list. Sounds thrilling!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      It was stunning, although with my dislike of heights, I’d never do that hike. I can’t imagine how incredible the scenery, and experience would be from that height and vantage point. Definitely worth it for the braver among us!!

      Reply
  2. Carleen

    Beautiful scenery! One of my friends lived in Spain for awhile and I loved visiting her. It is such a beautiful country.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      There are so many beautiful places to see not far from where we live.

      Reply
  3. Montecristo travels (Sonja)

    Signs in Spain DO suck! LOL I totally agree. Although … having driven in Greece I will add that at least they aren’t in Cyrillic of something! You ever wonder HOW people get where they are going? I now know to always ask for a GPS with our car rental.
    (PS – our man also needs mucho GOOD café!)

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      You have a point…at least the signs have English letters!! Although I’m renting from a very inexpensive place I need an automatic, so they charge an absolute fortune for it, and I’m renting for about 4 months, so no way could I afford to add the cost of GPS to that bill. You’d think for what I’m paying they’d throw it in as a freebie.

      Reply
  4. Anita Aurit

    What a wonderful travelogue and how great that Red shares the adventures with you (Red is quite a cutie by the way). I laughed about your comments about navigating. My husband and I are both “geographically dsylexic” and we always have to pad arrival time estimations with some “getting lost time”. Thank goodness for phone navigation!!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks Anita, I do think she’s adorable!! I always leave extra time for getting lost, because I have no sense of direction. I come out of a store and can’t figure out where I am!! I’m amazed I’ve managed to drive to so many places in Spain and make it home.

      Reply
  5. Jana Rade

    You must be all kinds of exciting fun <3

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      That or I can’t stay in one place too long!

      Reply
  6. Tenacious Little Terrier

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. GPS is a lifesaver. It came out right around when I learned to drive. I don’t know how I would get around without it!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I don’t do any long distance driving, and for local city driving I’ve never felt the need. It would certainly come in handy here and, in retrospect, I should have bought one but now there’s no point. My husband told me that he either read an article or saw something on tv about what’s happening to our brains now that we’re relying on GPS so much, rather than actually figuring out directions. Nothing good apparently!!

      Reply
  7. Cathy Armato

    What a spectacular place! I loved Spain when I visited. I rented a car and drove their once – never again!! Not only are signs challenging, but people Speed on the highway!! It was nerve-racking! Glad you found beauty & a little peace. I can’t believe you have to do all the driving, that would make me nuts! LOL!
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I haven’t encountered a problem with speeding, but poor signage – every day!! I can’t believe I have to do all the driving either, that’s why we never take car trips where we live (except here of course), because I’m not a long distance driver. It really sucks but it’s not like I didn’t know it was a problem going into this relationship. Oh well.

      Reply
  8. The Daily Pip

    What a fun post. In addition to being an expert on the care of senior dogs, you are a very good storyteller. I laughed out loud a few times about your adventures – your husband not driving and how saying ‘there” is not really very descriptive. And of course, love seeing the pictures of Red enjoying such a beautiful place.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks for your kind words, they’re much appreciated. Red does get out and about, and no matter how hard I try, how much I beg, plead, explain and fight, he will not understand I need more than the word “there.” Even an occasional “left” or “right” would make me happy. Now I’m just suffering in silence!!

      Reply
  9. Lola The Rescued Cat

    What a great adventure! We’re so glad Red had a nice day out. El Chorro looks like a beautiful place.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      It really is breathtaking, but so much of the scenery around here is.

      Reply
  10. Tonya Wilhelm

    You crack me up! I don’t mind getting lost unless I’m lost on a big highway in a large city, or in the hood. It sounds like you all had a very nice trip. I love the selfie at the end. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I assume it’s my control freak nature that causes me to have a meltdown if I’m lost. At least if you’re lost and you speak the language you can ask for directions. I’m only learning Spanish so there’s lots of pointing and map drawing and me saying “si” just to get out of there.

      Reply
  11. Beth

    It sounds like overall it was a lot of fun! I’m your husband is a great guy, but he does sound like a terrible navigator. I’m glad that you made it there without too much trouble. We lived in Europe for a few years long before cell phones and GPS. As kids, we learned to be very quiet whenever we were lost!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      The trip was amazing, and yes he is a terrible navigator. How hard is it to say left, right, straight? I’m so the opposite of quiet when I get lost.

      Reply
  12. Sweet Purrfections

    I enjoyed reading of your adventures with Red.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Thanks!

      Reply
  13. Robin

    Such a fun adventure! I would have enjoyed getting to see the kitties. 🙂 Personally, I would be lost without navigation devices. Google Maps has opened a whole new world of going places to me! LOL This looks like an absolutely gorgeous place to visit and I’m so glad that Red enjoyed the trip too.

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      The kitties were so sweet. At one point mom ran past with one in her mouth – I guess trying to hide her from us. The place is stunning, but so are most places around here. We go to Malaga twice a week for Red’s acupuncture, and the scenery is beyond stunning, I never tire of it.

      Reply
  14. Jenna Hughson

    Such a great trip, and amazing photos too!

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      I was the world’s worst photographer – I look back at pictures of my animals and I’m amazed at how I managed to get almost every picture to be a blur. Now I’m taking it more seriously and trying to take better pictures. I hope it’s working.

      Reply
  15. Sonja

    Little kings pathway here we come! LOL

    Reply
    1. Hindy Pearson (Post author)

      Send pictures!!

      Reply

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