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We're going to tell you a story. It's about a little cave that Olivier discovered some months ago on an outing with a local real estate agent. The story is not yet over and we don't know how it will finish. So in a sense, as we tell you our tale, we're living it out right alongside you.

Written by Olivier & translated by AnnaBeth

The village of Orce (pronounced Or-say) in late winter. The short, squat man greeted me with a courteous air and his face broke into a wide grin. Standing in the doorway of his local bar/office on the little village square, he asked if we would take his car or mine. I opted for mine and we took off to see the fantastic caves he claimed to have for sale.

This part of Andalusia, the altiplano of Granada, is a region of cave houses or "cuevas". Having visited this vicinity of southern Spain a couple of years earlier, I had been seduced by the idea of eventually settling down in one of these dwellings, each one unique and dug out from the mountainside by hand, with bedrooms that are carved deep into the earth and that envelope the sleeper in a luscious, peaceful silence.


During the morning’s outing my affable agent took me to see caves of different styles.  Some were “reformed” (renovated to a modern standard) while others were “unreformed” and may not have been inhabited since the peasant-farmers shared the dwellings with their sheep, goats and pigs and baked their bread in the ubiquitous bread ovens carved into the cave wall. Some of the caves had thick walls and two stories with large rooms, others had skylights and terraces with views, still others were in ruins surrounded by tracts of land. It’s up to the viewer to use their imagination to picture the finished, delightfully habitable cave.

 



 

 



 

 



 

Each cave we visited proved to be of solid build, however each time the place or the surroundings did not suit me. One unfortunate detail such as an unfinished or ugly wall of a neighboring house, an electric pole with wires running from all sides, or an impractical layout could negate all of the attraction. I simply could not feel "at home".  By the end of our tour my ideas were scrambled. I did not know what to think of what I had just seen and above all I did not feel that I had found what I was looking for.


On the way back to Orce, my agent spoke of a small cave that he said was situated in a perfect location but that the cave itself was not worth the trouble. However, he offered to make the detour. I accepted and we drove back across the plateau, passing by a herd of grazing sheep with their shepherd.

 

 

 
 

It had been several months since Anna and I had begun our exploration of the cave region of Andalusia. Since my visit two years earlier, I had formed a precise idea of ​​the specifics of my ideal cave, the property of my dreams, where I would finally be able to settle down and unpack my few possessions, especially my precious books. This time I was looking in earnest.


We left the tarmac road that stretches across the top of the plateau, turning off onto a rough dirt track that leads straight northwest through a broad expanse of fields of freshly planted, foot high almond trees.  Far across the valley ahead, the early setting sun was just beginning to reflect golden light onto the distant mountain range. A quarter mile in, the agent signaled me to park. In front of us lay the edge of the plateau overlooking wide open, rugged farmland of almond and olive trees. "Aqui està, abajo!" “ Here is it, down below!


I could not see the cave from where we’d stopped but I was already marveling at the scene across the valley. I felt the strength of the place. I felt its mystery and magic.  The view extends almost 180° from east to southwest, offering an expansive, contemplative vista for the exercise of meditation. Beyond the valley, miles away, the mountains of the Sierra de la Sagra complete the picture in a grand way. Whoa!

 

 

Click on the picture once. Then click on the picture a second time to maximize its size. Using your arrow keys, you can scroll left or right

 

I had yet to see the cave. We hiked down a few dozen yards to the right on a rocky trail, passing by a large, sprawling unreformed cave on the left. My guide informed me that this cave lacked the “escritura" (property title), without which it was impossible to buy. 

 

 

 

 

Continuing our way down around a small, scrubby hill on the right, we arrived at our destination.

 

 

 


 

I found myself facing a plain, simple, thoroughly unreformed cave. Some would call it a ruin. But to me, it was a wonder. The front face was partially protected from the elements by two crumbling stone walls that created semi-enclosed “courtyards” on either end. The seclusion of the place imparted a feeling of comfort, well-being and security. No neighbors here, nothing but the stillness of the almond trees below and a view as far as the eye can see. According to my guide, the inside of the cave was without value but I stood on the front “patio” and thought: this is it, this is the place.
 

 




 
Crossing the threshold of the front entrance, I saw that the interior had indeed been inhabited not only by farm animals, as is generally the case, but by people as well, although it had been a long time since, to judge by the decrepitude of the walls and paint. The place was certainly small and in poor condition, but builders who reform caves can often dig into the back walls to carve additional rooms further into the mountain, and the patio walls offered an opportunity to create unique outdoor living spaces. The option of making plans and renovating attracted me because it is easiest to customize the interior when everything is yet to be done.


 



 


 
 
 

Entranced by this extraordinary place, I resolved to return the next day to record a video so that I could share my discovery with Anna, who was then in the U.S. Having verified with the real estate agent that the cave was actually available for purchase, with “escritura” and at a correct price, nothing theoretically prevented this place from becoming our new residence in Spain.

 
La Sagra mountain view from the plateau  



 
Our quest completed, we headed back across the plateau to the village of Orce where I dropped off my agent at his village bar/office in time for him to help his wife serve dinner to their patrons.

 

 

 

Read more in a later post about the Little Cave.

 

 

Comments  

0 #8 Stephanie Daniels 2017-05-11 16:49
:lol :P :P Wow !!! How extraordinary + wonderful !!! Friend AnnaBeth. Very much looking forward to see to visiting with you this Saturday. Thank you for the highly evocative info you experienced in Spain. Filled me again with my own wonderlust from my childhood throughout my life. To find the place I called home is an adventure everyone can relate to. Thank you for sharing your fantasic, true + inspiring story. Love, Stephanie Daniels
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0 #7 Philip 2017-04-24 23:20
Totally heart warming and inspiring!
Wishing you the very best experience!
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0 #6 Judith Elaine Halek 2017-03-12 00:46
You all had past lives in Lemuria... Beautiful structures... so primal and close to our DNA. We are all made of 'star dust' particles and the caves are no different...Thanks for the adventure.
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0 #5 Linda Just 2017-02-20 16:39
Love the search for a cave to call home! Please make sure you let us know all the purchase details. Requirements and so on...I'm a curious Realtor! Love the adventures!
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+3 #4 Stuart Schulman 2017-02-20 16:37
This saga feels somehow timeless, as if this story could have been written in 1817, or 1917 as easily as 2017. The landscape appears at first austere, even arid, but then one's gaze is directed to the mountains, La Sagra, and one imagines Springtime mists rising over the mountains and caressing the valley that lies without the "cave" and bringing renewal of life - again in the timelessness of this place. It is almost as if your have stepped out of the flow and narrative within which the rest of us live and into this alternate reality. The beauty is other-dimensional and cannot be sought in the mind's eye but must be experienced by the soul and the heart as the secret life that hovers over this valley innervates one's consciousness.
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0 #3 Ninah Kessler 2017-02-19 22:21
I love the suspense at the end. Can't wait to read more about the Little Cave.
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0 #2 Annie attridge 2017-02-17 17:10
Go for it! We built a house on a mountain which had no water, no road, no electricity 13 years ago. Never regretted a moment. Just took a bit longer than expected.
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0 #1 Inge Karson 2017-02-17 15:47
Wonderful story; can't wait to see and read the next part. :D
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