Thursday, 6 August 2009

Life in El Valero

What can make a person pack up everything he owns and his whole family, travel for many kilometers, leaving friends, neighbours, family and a comfortable life behind, in order to settle in a foreign land?

It didn't take long for Chris Stewart to decide that this place somewhere in Alpujarra, Spain will be their new home. After series of negotiations and being £25,000 poorer, the young couple from England became proud owners of a farm named El Valero.

Stewart's main claim to fame is the fact that he was a founding member of the band Genesis. The only thing I know about Genesis is that Phil Collin's in it. Stewart played drums for them for a while but didn't hang around long enough to see their first album released. He went on to pursue other things like joining the circus, travelling through China, learned sailing and flying, among other things. He also picked sheep-shearing skill, which is a very needed skill in the new neighbourhood.

If you're imagining that the El Valero is some kind of a country paradise, you might be half right. One undeniable thing about the place is its scenery. It's a beautiful farm by a river, a perfect place to rear sheep, chickens and goat, and to grow olives, vegetable and other crops. Stewart himself is an organic farmer. On the other hand, the road required some work, and a bridge. And there's the local wildlife, some of which seem have a taste for sheep's meat and chickens.

Years have past since then the Stewarts first arrived. Their daughter Chloƫ was born here. And she can't possibly imagine life somewhere else. The Stewarts clan have very much now rooted themselves in this scenic valley. Their story is told in a three-books series: Driving over Lemons, A Parrot in the Pepper Tree and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society.

I've just finished the last book. I read them in sequence with other books in between. It took me some time to appreciate them. I read in order to figure out why would Stewart decide on moving to the Alpujarra, but never found the reason. I suppose it's one of those answers, the one that can be very difficult to explain. Or perhaps it's as simple as fate.


oldroader said...

we visit the Alpujarras as often as possible, so can fully understand the magic of the place and what drew Chris out there.

We've renovated a house in the area, and are plucking up the courage to throw it all in and follow in his footsteps!

I've read Driving Over Lemons, would you recommend following it up with the other two? I thought D.O.L was quite charming to read but it's not exactly Booker prize material.

All the best,

r.o.l. said...

Hi, Des, so sorry for the late reply. I don't get a lot of comments, and readers actually.

D.O.L. is very charming, I read it because I wanted know more about the place. As for the other two, I would recommend them only if you really enjoyed D.O.L. I think Chris becomes a more confident writer in the latter books. It is nice to catch up with lovely Stewarts.

I apologise for the late reply. Thanks again, Des.

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