An event was advertised around the village last week to launch a book by an Aguanoso, Sebastián García Acosta. For at least the last thirty years Sebastián’s twin passions have been his camera and the mountains which stand behind the village and form the Parque Natural de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama, His book brings together the two wonderfully. So on Friday evening I dropped into the Casa de la Cultura (Cultural Centre) for the launch. The advertised start was 8.00pm which locally can indicate a much later actual start, but already the patio was already crowded with people at ten to eight and more were arriving all the time. Nor were they only villagers who could be expected to be friends and neighbours; many people had travelled to the village for the launch. Introductory speeches were made by people who had been instrumental in bringing the book, “Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama” to fruition; the man who had helped Sebastián select the photos from among the many thousands he has taken of this area, the editor who had designed both the overall structure and the detailed sections, the retired professor who had undertaken the translation of the Spanish text into English, so that the final creation is bilingual (and, incidentally, a great opportunity for anyone to improve their Spanish by studying the parallel texts.). And then Sebastián himself spoke of the book, his passion for photography - with his first wages he bought his first camera - and his love of these sierras, their majesty, their dangers, as well as the flora and fauna, including perhaps his favourite, the cabra montes (Iberian Mountain Goat) which is the emblem of the park and which sadly is found in few other parts of Spain these days.
The natural park encompasses, as its name suggests, three separate sierras, stretching in an east-west orientation from Otivar in the province of Granada to Venta de Zafarraya behind the town of Velez Málaga. This ridge of Dolomitic limestone is the westward extension of the much more well-known Sierra Nevada, whose main summit, Mulhacén, is at around 3,500metres, the highest on the Iberian Peninsula. From a wild region of ravines, cliffs and mountain streams in the east, it gradually broadens and softens to reach its western extremity in the much more rounded, Maroma just over 2,000 metres in altitude.
At the end of the speeches I joined the queue for my copy of the book which even in these economically challenging times, and at 50€ a copy, was flying off the table. Deservedly so. Examining it in detail later, I found it to be much more than a mere coffee table book - though it serves that purpose admirably - but also a detailed account of the topography and history, both natural and human, of this unique zone. This is a book to enthrall walkers, climbers, and other photographers, as well as those whose interests are in the fields of botany, ornithology, and the native fauna of Spain.
So, for any of you who fall into one or more of these categories, the details are as follows:
García Acosta, Sebastián Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama (Parque Natural), 2011
And if it inspires you to want to explore the park, there’s a link from this blog to a guy who leads walks in the local mountains.