- Travel and Places
Spain's Andalucia has Little-Known Gems like Moguer.
Article set near the Costa de la LuzClick thumbnail to view full-size
Even Columbus Found His Way Here!
A Hidden Place in Spain.
Apart from a year teaching in Barcelona, and the same in Santander some time later, I do not know Spain well. The less travelled road that caught my eye had led me to the Americas, Mexico in particular, (some of my other hubs give me away in this regard). So when I returned to chilly old UK in 2003, I yearned for sunshine and balmy tropical nights. Hertfordshire is sadly lacking in these delights. So I returned to Mexico twice a year for the first couple of years, but found the travel irksome and expensive and Mexico becoming burdened with the travails of the 21st Century: less friendly, more expensive and with rising violence. “Heck,” I mumbled to myself, “Self, we might as well stay here, or….Spain?”
I hadn’t quite realized how nasty some parts of Spain had become, catchment areas of Brits who just came as tourists, or snow-birds part of the year and had as much interest in the Spanish, their language and culture, as they had in Martian society. Spain had changed since the 1980’s and not for the better.
I decided to have a look around a part of the country that is perhaps a little off the tourist circuit, as the weather is not as balmy as the coasts east of Gibraltar; wind can be a problem and the winters get as bad as the UK at times. This south-west corner of Spain is also cut off very effectively from the rest of the country in the south by the huge estuary of the River Guadalquivir, with its wildlife sanctuary in the marshy and inaccessible Cota de Donana Park. Anyone who has taken the coast road from the Huelva area will understand what I mean, the road comes to a dead end at the soulless Torre de la Higuera resorts. To get back to the coast east of here, you have to cut north to the A9, go to Seville and get the A4 south again! That’s about 150 miles detour at a guess.
All this lay ahead of me as I picked up my little Ford Kaa at Seville airport and headed west along the 630 highway, picking up the left fork, the 433, about 30 miles out. I had planned the first stop at Arecena and stuck to this plan
Aracena is a nice little hilltop town with some interesting caves which I didn’t have time to explore. I really don’t do tourism well, prefer to find a nice spot and stay for a while or a lifetime. For either of those periods, Aracena wouldn’t do. But I stuck to the plan which was to explore this rather pretty region of scrub oak populated by semi-wild pigs which live on the acorns and provide wonderful ham…but not cheap!
This road ends in Rosal de la Frontera, as the name suggests, a town straddling the Spanish-Portuguese border, a tame affair now we are all common market and the bottom has dropped out of the smuggling that used to go on round here. I liked the look of Rosal and nearly stopped overnight, but as it was only midday, I backtracked to highway 435, turned left, no, right! and zoomed down towards Huelva.
I was doomed to never see Huelva: I was seduced on route by a lovely little spot, the subject of this article; garlanded by the AA Guide as “One of the smartest and friendliest towns in Andalucia.” After 3 days there, I concur wholeheartedly.
My first piece of luck which began my love affair with MOGUER, was to stumble across the Hostel Pedro Alonso Nino, on the street of the same name. Lovely owners, all smiles and a room clean as a pin for about £8 pounds a night! This is not a resort, folks, and more power to it for that. But the price! And such an atmosphere you can only find in these converted old Colonial houses.
Don’t go to Moguer expecting much in the way of, may the Devil take the name, “tourist infrastructure,” to find that, you need to go elsewhere; look in the zillions of guides But there are good wide beaches at Mazagun, 35 minutes drive south-east, and more camping and rustic coast all the way to the romantically named Guadalquivir.. Moguer is more the kind of place you would like to come and live if you were just a bit beyond the hedonism of the Costas. If poetry is your thing, as it this scribe, you will appreciate that the town was the birthplace of Juan Ramon Jimenez, the Nobel prize-winning bard. A bust of him stands in a little annex to the Plaza Cabildo, the town’s pretty square. Perhaps more interesting to visitors was the town’s connection with Cristobal Colon, known to Anglos as Christopher Columbus; money was contributed from here to build the caravel La Nina, named for Moguer men, brothers, Juan and Pedro Alonso Nina, captain and navigator of the vessel. Columbus also gave an all night prayer session in the town’s monastery to commemorate his safe return, despite, we might speculate, the calculations of his navigator who thought they had arrived at the Indies!
Moguer has a decent supermarket with a decidedly Spanish flavour, well stocked and cheap. Lots of little tapas bars all over the town centre and the Meson el Lobito, one of the top places to eat in Andalucia.
So I missed Huelva. Actually, I did take the route around the estuary and back down to Calais. Loved it there, too, but I would rather live in peaceful, unpretentious little Moguer.