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“Paul tradujo nuestra carta al inglés, al alemán y al francés en dos ocasiones este año. Estamos muy contentos de su trabajo. Tuvimos problemas con la imprenta y Paul los resolvió por su propia cuenta.”
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Ben and Joan, Monty Jack and Big Ron PDF
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 00:00

Three of the loveliest pueblos blancos of the Guadiaro valley in our part of Secret Andalucía are Montejaque, where I now live, its neighbour Benaoján and the stunning jewel in the crown, Ronda.

Montejaque, at 689 square metres above sea level, nestles in the shadow of two mountains, Hacho and Tavizna.  With a population of 1004, it’s small and quiet. The barrio nazarí, the old Arab settlement tucked in at the top of the village, is charming with higgledy-piggledy houses and narrow alleys originating from the days of the Moorish occupation, between 711  and 1492,. This area was designed to keep dwellings cool in the heat of summer and sheltered and warm in the cold of winter. Over the years a number of these older houses, many of which were nothing more than ruined dwellings or animal shelters, have been bought up by northern Europeans and renovated into holiday cottages or permanent homes.  Some 40 or so guiris (foreigners, half of them British and Irish) live in Monty Jack on a permanent basis.

The surrounding land is given over largely to olive cultivation and cork production.  The village is now quite thriving, with significant construction work in the newer, lower part of the village still ongoing despite the recession.

Benaoján, by contrast, is a pork town, with a number of processing factories in the village itself and down the hill in Estación de Benaoján,  its sister settlement alongside the railway line to Algeciras.  With an overall population of 1,629 Ben and Joan are famous for their chacinas y embutidos, ie hams, sausages, cold meats and other pork products, derived from the ubiquitous black pigs which roam freely feasting on acorns from the thousands of oak trees. Benaoján is evidently more industrial and shabby than its neighbour up the hill. 

Also in the lee of a mountain, at 564 meters above sea level, it gets the early morning sun but goes into shadow early in the evening.  It too has had a small influx of foreigners, also around 40, and it is a friendly place.  Ben and Joan is larger than Monty Jack and has more amenities, such as a modern health centre, football pitch, petrol station and repair garage, a newsagents and a florists.

Both villages are about 20 minutes by road from magical Ronda, the highest of the three at 739 metres and the largest town hereabouts.  Big Ron has a population of around 36,500, over 1,400 of them foreigners.  Whilst the Ciudad Soñada (City of Dreams), as it is known, can boast a wide range of amenities and is a great town, Monty Jack and Ben and Joan are quieter and slap bang in the middle of the most spectacular scenery you could wish to see.  The whole of the Guadiaro valley is a delightful area for a holiday, or even better, for living in.  Why not come and see us?  There is plenty of holiday rental accommodation of differing types and to suit all tastes and pockets, or your dream house could be just waiting there for you to discover it.  The following links provide listings and other information on the area:

Secret Andalucia

A1 Holidays

A1 HomeFinders

A1 SpanishLife

©  Paul Whitelock

Tags: paul whitelock, pueblos blancos, Guadiaro, Secret Andalucía, Montejaque, Benaoján, Ronda, Hacho, Tavizna, barrio nazarí, holiday cottage, guiris, Monty Jack, olive, cork, Estación de Benaoján, Algeciras, Ben and Joan, chacinas y embutidos, Big Ron, Ronda, Ciudad Soñada, City of Dreams, Guadiaro valley, holiday rental, dream house,



0 #2 2011-02-08 08:14
Monter Jacques, alors!
+1 #1 2011-02-07 14:53
Well, it finally happened. Last week I met two French-speaking tourists who said they were staying in...Monty Jack, with a soft French style J of course

Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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