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The rain in Spain falls mainly on...Granada PDF
Monday, 29 March 2010 00:00

By Chris Stewart

alt  Monday 29 March 2010

altThe author of Driving Over Lemons bemoans the bad weather that is blighting Granada



If there's a leitmotif to living in the south of Spain, it might be the sound of people droning on interminably about how dry it is. The inevitable concomitant to drought is endless days of blue sky and sunshine and country people can become a little depressed as week after week passes with still not a drop of rain.

Autumn was like that, with no rain in the rainiest months of October and November, and a mood of gloomy resignation had set in. And then, on the night of 23 December 2009, the heavens opened. At the same time, a freak winter heatwave melted the snow on the tops of the Sierra Nevada; the three rivers that meet in our valley came roaring out of their respective gorges like the hordes of Beelzebub.

At six in the morning my neighbour, Domingo, rang me. It must have been serious: nobody ever rings that early. "Can you get me your car keys?" he asked.

alt"Why?" I wondered, although in my heart of hearts I knew.

"Because the river has got up like never before, and it's taken the bridge and the road on both sides. It's still rising and in half an hour it'll have your car, and it looks like it's heading for your olive fields."

I sort of liked the car, and it would have been a shame to lose it, but there was no way I could get the keys to Domingo. So I went back to bed where it was dry and warm and the wife was. That was three months ago . . . and it's still raining.

Andalucía has never known anything like it, and the Alpujarra, where I live, at the foot of the highest mountains in the peninsula, has suffered more than most. Landslips and rockfalls block the roads; houses and land have been taken by the rivers; villages have been cut off for weeks. There was frenzied anticipation downriver when news got out that one of the ham-drying houses in Trevélez had been washed into the river. People here are obsessive about ham, and many lips were licked at the thought of thousands of succulent Trevélez hams hurtling down the river. Unfortunately, when they finally appeared, the water had stripped them of every last shred of meat. The thought of this depressed people even more than the deluge; nobody here will ever pray for rain again.

However, the hills and valleys are green like never before; the sheep are fat and happy, and it's been a hell of a year for the wild asparagus.

Photograph of Chris Stewart crossing a swollen river near his home by Ana Exton