Monday, 5 March 2018

Storms in a Desert!

As well as the ruins of the goldmine at Rodalquilar, there are the remains of other striking industrial buildings and structures on the Cabo de Gata.  Human beings have made their mark on the area for centuries.
Many of these buildings are connected to the need for water - the old aljibes or water cisterns first designed and built by the Moors can be found everywhere. The ones in these photos are at Cortijo del Frailes, the grand farmhouse (now ruined) where a dramatic murder took place in 1928 which provided the inspiration for Carmen de Burgos's novel, Carnation Dagger, and  Lorca’s play, Blood Wedding.

One day we drove up passed the small town of Nijar towards Lucainena de las Torres, to the haunting site of the deserted dam and the Isabel II reservoir, built in 1848.  It was an ambitious project in its time, designed to bring water and fertility to the fields of  Nijar, but it was a complete failure - in only twenty years the dam had silted up and after fifty years there was no sign of any water at all.  It has been abandoned ever since.  

It is a strange eerie place, totally silent.  In San José, we’re used to hearing the incessant sound of birds singing but here there was not a single bird to be heard.  There were no houses, no people, nothing stirred - not even the wind.

Another day we stopped to look at the impressive, if crumbling, aqueduct at Fernán Pérez, also designed to improve irrigation in the region.  It was built at the beginning of the 20th century to redirect a stream in order to extend farming.

In an area that is officially designated as desert (hard to believe as I watch the rain through my window) the need for water is a constant preoccupation and concern.  Commercial agriculture in the huge plastic-covered greenhouses of Murcia and Almeria is increasing this preoccupation, consuming more and more water and so lowering the watertable of the region to an alarming extent.

As I said, it’s hard to believe I’m in a desert, having spent three months here during one of the worst winters Spain - and indeed, the whole of Europe - has known in modern times.  The province of Almeria has been tormented by constant storms, beginning with Storm Ana soon after we arrived and continuing through the alphabet to Storm Emma which has been raging for nearly a week now!  
It has been a miserable and depressing winter but at least we've had no snow here, unlike the UK and most of Spain!  However, we will be glad to return home next week.

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