A rural spot by the lake.
One of the best experiences we have had, has been our stay in Peñarroya-Pueblonuevo. In fact, the plan was to spend a few days, but due to the hospitality of the Spanish it became a few weeks instead. We found the campsite itself, as so often before, at Campercontact and actually chose it, because it was really cheap. When we arrived we also saw that it was at a really beautiful place by a lake. Rural as the Spanish call it, when it is in the country. Don’t miss out on those Rural spots. They are absolutely gorgeous and peaceful.
Invaded by the French.
The nearby town is populated by about 2000 residents. It does not consist of much more than a few supermarkets, a tobacco shop, some tavernas and a few other local shops. But the surroundings are incredibly beautiful and the city has a great history. Originally it consisted of two small towns called Peñarroya and Pueblonuevo del Terrible. The last part means “the new city of the terrible” and refers to a dreaded, wild dog living in the city. The last “terrible” part, however, was deleted as the two cities were merged. Probably because the horrible dog was long dead.
The town is very French inspired in its construction style. In the early 1900s it was industrially invaded by Frenchmen who built a mining industry in the city and the area. In the mining days, there were about 24.000 residents in Peñarroya-Pueblonuevo, but when the French left in the 1950s and the mining industry was shut down, the city lost most of its residents. These days it is just a small village. And yet again, it is so much more.
Greeted by the locals.
However, the hospitality in the city was the real reason we ended up staying a few weeks. Not just the hospitality from the owners of the campsite, but also the people we met on the street. One day we went for a walk in the sun and a Spanish lady came over to us and stroke my bare arms. All while expressing that she was also happy that the sun was finally out. In Spanish of course, but in this part of the country, their dialect is pretty easy to understand. General, people greeted and smiled at us everywhere we went. This was also the case with the owners of the campsite.
Do you speak German?
We were greeted by an old lady, as we drove into the campsite. She smiled and asked if we spoke German or English. When we answered that we spoke both, words in Spanish flowed out of her mouth. It turned out later that she did not speak neither German or English at all. All she knew in those languages, was to ask if we did. But it didn’t matter. With sign language and the little knowledge of Spanish, we had gradually acquired, we managed to communicate anyway. Already on the first day, we ended up getting both fresh laid eggs and a face cream, which she had made from oils and aloeVera in her kitchen. We found out later, that her name was Josefa and we must say, that she was one of the kindest people we have ever met.
Wanting to help out.
It turned out that Josefa was 81 years old and her husband, Juan Antonio, was 83. They lived very spartan and probably what one would call poor. But they were happy and had loving hearts. The next day we were chilling in the sun, watching Juan Antonio sitting on a chair chopping firewood. His knees were’t so fresh anymore and we decided to ask, if there was anything we could help with. After all, we did nothing but enjoy the sun, so we could just as well mow grass, chop firewood or something like that. However, they refused. Until the next day.
Meeting new people.
Josefa’s son and daughter-in-law, Pepe and Myriam, also lived at the plot of land. Actually they owned it. It turned out that they needed help finishing a horse fold they were working on. So Malthe spent the next few days working with Pepe. Apparently women are not allowed to work with heavy stuff, therefore I wasn’t allowed to help. One day we got invited to lunch, and suddenly we were also invited to Myriam’s birthday. It was very far from what we were used to from Denmark. In Denmark people are much more reserved and private. So it was with a little nervousness, that we showed up in our nicest clothes and with a small gift.
Even more new people.
Birthdays in Spain are amazing. Completely informal and not at all the way we were used to. Guests brought food consisting of delicious, simple sandwiches and local dishes. Everything was eaten from disposable tableware, while laughing and having a good time. The atmosphere was endlessly accommodating, even though we were just two guests from the campsite. Most of the time we sat and took it all in, while the family spoke loudly with an incomprehensible dialect. Often they laughed so much, that the tears were rolling down their cheeks. Of course, we were also spoken to in English and that way, we got to know the rest of the family as well.
Birthday all day.
During the day, we got a little tired from all the impressions and intake of cold beers. We said thank you for a great birthday and that we would go and enjoy a siesta. Apparently it was quite normal, because a few others to did the same. We were told, that we would have to come back later in the evening, when dinner was served. Spanish birthdays obviously last the whole day. At 8pm the birthday continued with paella made in a large pan on the terrace. There was also music, singing and dancing. Accompanied with clapping and loving laughs, we were offered a lesson in salsa dancing. The Spanish are born with hips that is somewhat looser and more rhythmic than Danes. We must have looked like stiff giants on that dance floor.
During the evening, we got an invitation to come see a stud. Pepe’s cousin and husband owned one. We said yes of course. It would be another wonderful experience, in the company of Matti and Fernando. At midnight we had to call it a day. Food, cake, champagne, dancing and people in a great mood, had left us exhausted. We said goodbye and got lots of hugs and cheek kisses to go.
An amazing stud.
The next few days we spent with pleasant conversations with Josefa and Juan Antonio, feeding of the chickens, sunbathing and crocheting for my part and small projects with Pepe for Malthe’s part. Also a small trip to Cordoba, which you can read about here. And of course the visit to the stud. We had imagined a few small foals and a lot of horses in stables.. However, we were overwhelmed by the fact, that it was not like that at all. Matti and Fernando’s land stretched as far as the eye could see and the stud itself was a big, beautiful hacienda. They had a house for employees, a pool, a banquet hall and several folds and stables. We were even greeted by peacocks as we drove up to the house.
Horses in the wild.
The stud was much more than we expected. Mati and Fernando were still down to earth though. I talked a little with Matti about horse breeding in Denmark. This field is often surrounded by a little snobbery. She just replied, that although they raised Arabian and Spanish horses and lived as they did, it would still hurt if you pinched her arm. Just as it would everyone else. Lovely attitude to have in life.
Around the stud, we petted a lot of foals, greeted all the dogs and watched the goats play at a small mountain. Eventually we headed out to the part of the property, where the adult horses actually lived. A few of them had newborn foals and the horses walked side by side with a large herd of grazing sheep. Wonderful conditions. All the animals were living as in the wild. In a pack, eating grass and acorns. It was amazing to watch. The day, ended with hugs, cheek kisses and a promise to keep in touch.
Adios & hasta la vista.
Even good things sometimes come to an end and we had to end our stay in Peñarroya-Pueblonuevo. Ahead was the Netherlands and another visit from the eldest daughter awaited. (Read about that here) However, we got to see Myriam’s horse arrive and take in the new horse fold. It was a touching farewell to everyone and we promised to return again. We were sent off with the words: “Mi casa es su casa. We are family now”. And we must say, that we have lost our hearts to Spain, and its hospitality.
– Text and photos: Eva. Adding, captures, photos and photo editing: Malthe