Guadalest is perched on top of a ridge of granite, close to 600 meters above sea level, in a valley surrounded by several mountain ranges. Guadalest, meaning Eagle’s nest, was established around year 1200, by the Moors, a north-west African people who conquered and ruled the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 800 years. They constructed and built castles on this extremely strategic place, to defend and control the area, which is the case of so many forts and castles of this kind. The castle was reconquered by the Christians in the 13th century, and since then the castle has fallen victim to both wars and earthquakes, occurrences that combined led to its destruction in the 17th and 18th century.
 Walking around in the village and up to the castle and the forts, we felt in no imminent danger of attack of any sort. Many of the people in the museums and shops, though, behaved as if we were conquistadors, wanting to invade their shops, their life, their souls. Their rude and unfriendly behavior did nothing to endear us to the place. They acted as if they were positively sick and tired of all the tourists that they are so utterly dependent on. Which in one way is understandable, but on the other hand makes life more miserable than necessary for both parties.
True, many tourists come from less economically challenged countries, but frankly I don’t see how that justifies insulting and affronting everyone. The most impressively offensive manner, though, I experienced upon entering the small Heritage Museum. I was greeted by a man with a solemn demeanor, saying, but obviously not wishing me, buenas tardes. Trying to be on my best and friendliest behavior I answered him in Spanish. Whereupon he literally snarled at me, and asked how the hell (he didn’t actually use the word, but he sure as h… wanted to!) he should know what  brochure to give me, if I greeted him in Spanish, and not in my native tongue. I feebly tried to convince him that I was attempting to be friendly, when in Rome etc… , but he briskly waved me off, as if I were an irritating insect, with “if you don’t need help, that’s perfectly fine with me!”  My concentration was by now somewhat subdued, so I quickly walked through the tableaus, not really taking anything in, just hoping he wouldn’t spit at me, or kill me, on my way out.
All the negativity was not able, though, to diminish the exhilaration we felt about both the now to a great extent crumbled forts, still impressive, by virtue of their location, and the amazing panoramic view of the strikingly beautiful landscape around us. Some of the mountains were bathed in the now reddish glow of the late afternoon sun, and the dammed Guadalest drinking reservoir is no less than stunning, with its emerald color, lined with what from a distance looks like white, sandy banks leading up to the terraced hillsides, reaching all the way up to the timberline and beyond.

While my companion went down to the village, I stayed on a little longer, perched on a slab of rock, just taking in the scene around me. People came, stayed for a little while, took photos, pointed out landscape formations to each other, and left again. I sat there, peacefully marveling at the mountains, the lake and not the least the people who had once lived, worked, fought and died here, of natural causes, in combat or in the dungeons, now open for the public, as an attraction…  I suddenly shivered. I was chilled by the thought, and by the fact that the sun was setting. Time to start the descent, and our drive back to friendly L’Alfas.  
Spread the love