Sunday, July 31, 2016

Old Mojácar

An amazing looking pueblo in the forgotten province of Almería. This picture of Mojácar is probably from about 1962 or so, and shows most of the village as seen from the mountain behind, the Picaccio (which is now adorned with a number of mobile phone and radio antennae). The right hand side of the village is missing, cut just before el Castillo, a castle described in the 1927 edition of a Spanish encyclopedia as 'inmutable' - roughly: unknockdownable. By the time of this picture, the castle had gone - the venerable stones had been taken to build houses, or fill in gullies and streets from the stricken pueblo, which had been largely abandoned since the Civil War in the second half of the thirties. Past the Castillo, now a luxurious home belonging to one of the many early foreigners who had brought the village back to life, the pueblo descends towards the fuente below. In this first picture, one can see the church - an old fortified building dating back to the Sixteenth Century, and just below, the large open-air construction at the lower right is Mojácar's open-air cinema, affectionately known as a 'pipa theatre'.
Behind Mojácar, the dry river bed called the Río de Aguas washes past in the mid distance (every few years, it fills with water from the heavy rains upstream). The surrounding land is dry, inhospitable, and while there are many terrazas from distant ages, by the 20th Century, the land was un-worked.
The view moving to the right - seeing the pueblo staring out towards the sea (this picture comes from around 1930) shows the older construction - with paint to highlight the doors and windows (it helps keep the flies out).
Mojácar is a kilometre away from the coast, rising on a hill. This originally helped to keep the town safe from pirate attacks, but meant that the local economy was more agricultural than maritime.
There were few homes on the coast, and the land down there, as late as the early sixties, was used simply to grow tomatoes. It is recounted that the older children would inherit the land or house 'up above', while the younger ones would be left the useless land on the coast. During the lean years following the Civil War, much of the local population left to find a better life elsewhere - and there are Mojaqueros in Barcelona, Madrid and Granada, in France and Germany and Argentina. With the arrival of the foreign wealth, many of course returned.
Don Jacinto, the last mayor of the Franco era, was the  man who brought Mojácar back from the brink. By 1965, there was a modest government Parador hotel on the beach, a very small Hotel Indalo in the village square, and any number of wealthy and always exotic foreigners living in the pueblo, building lavish homes wherever they could, with the paperwork easily resolved by the forward-thinking mayor and his small town hall.

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