El Cortijo de la Fuentecilla is a private residence and nothing in this website is
intended to solicit tourism of any kind. Morisco or Múdejar in origin but much altered,
at the time it was bought by a Russo-German emigré in the late 1960’s it was owned
by a family of brothers. They had inherited it from the housekeeper of its previous
owner. A bachelor doctor he had bought it from José Montoya, a wealthy anglophile
eccentric who once owned the whole of the Cabo de Gata coast & whose family still
owns much. The original core of salon and bedroom was once connected to animal pens
for donkeys, goats, pigs and chickens. Farmers continued the Arabic tradition of
living in close proximity to livestock in much the same way as earlier medieval northern
Europeans had. All the land was terraced and cultivated, a bare utilitarian scenery
of subsistence farming, though the naming of some topography suggests a richer past.
One mountain slope is called ‘The hill of lemons’. With great enthusiasm but lacking
essential land management skills the new owner set about creating his ideal oasis
paradise. At that time water seemed abundant. He planted hundreds of fruit trees,
eucalyptus shelter belts and a pine grove but the aquifer dwindled away and he fell
ill and died. Presently a struggle exists between conserving water and nursing the
relics of this ‘paradise’.
A traditional Andalus salon but the hearth is not!
A typical Andalus extended family farmed the land outlined in the top image above,
tenant peasants without machinery using donkey and mule. They kept a few sheep, pigs,
goats and chickens, mostly grew grains, chickpeas and vegetables. They lived in two
rooms that opened directly into animal stalls, a harsh existence within a nationalist
regime that penalised Andalucía economically for political dissent during a bitter
Left: planting in 1970, older olives foreground and young eucalyptus mid left; a
then new villa (centre top) ‘El Cubito’ now has a comely grove of trees. Right: Fuentecilla
planting in 2009, 39 years later seen from ‘El Cubito’. Trees here have stunted lives.
Before the days of Natural Park status parcels of land were developed with modest
villas, many since enlarged and assumed the title ‘cortijo’ as desirable. There are
two real cortijos (Andalus farms) in this valley, ‘La Fuentecilla’ and ‘El Capitano’.
El Capitano is derelict. Its finca has become home for apiaries. Increasing trespass
over the land by vehicles that do not keep to established tracks is increasing erosion
rapidly and destroys some of the more interesting flora that colonises open ground;
it gets crushed to extinction (see Conservation).
One of the more fragile and interesting ‘African’ plant colonisers that get destroyed
under tyres, Caralluma europea.
Tranquility here has many ways. Scenery induces its own sense of security within
ranges of gentle valleys and hills. Enclosing mountains, atmospheres of light, air
and humidity create a seeming infinitely variable sequence of change. Also possibly
there exists a geophysical energy which induces positive feel-good ionisation.
Breakfast on the terrace watching dawn transform itself through sunrise, anticipating
the daily walk through the hills, makes the best possible start to any day.
Far left: at certain times of the year one could almost believe oneself in the English Lake District! Centre left: an old goat track now gets pounded by 4 x 4 vehicles that use it to wander all over. Above: listening ears of the cosmos!
Sentinels at Sunrise
Cortijo la Fuentecilla summer sunrise with Cerro de los Limones, a caldera wall,
Cortijo La Fuentecilla is small. Generally the size of farms was dictated by the
capability of the finca to support people. Most in this area have been much modified
by incomers, Fuentecilla included. That belonging to the original Montoya-Diaz landowners
(left above) is comparatively enormous, almost Frontera size. This was also the case
with Cortijo del Fraile (to be included in due course).
People familiar with Morocco comment that Fuentecilla looks like farms there. Most
of what you see in this slightly romantic image is modern, since 1968. In Rodal-quilar
there is a farm operated by Moroccans. It does look similar but more ‘used’! The
paraphernalia here of modern living - solar water heating & electricity, clutter
Fuentecilla sits comfortably on one of the many hydrothermal mounds formed during
collapse of the large caldera, later penetrated by the two resurgent volcanoes of