R&R in Bedar

R&R in Bedar

So we got some sleep, recovered from the journey and in between we unpacked and settled into our cortijo – of which much more soon.

We’re staying on the edge of the pueblo of Bedar, up in the hills but in sight of the Med. Whitewashed houses, cobbled streets and terracotta roofs tell of a typically charming old Spanish community nestled among the foothills of the Cabrera Mountains at the eastern edge of the Sierra de los Filabres. Try as I might, I have not been able to find a translation for Filabres – but the search will continue; it must have a meaning.

Bedar? The name speaks to me of Moorish origins. Bedouin, Berber? But maybe that’s because I know it’s a safe bet in these parts. Andalucia – Al-Andalus, the Moors’ name for their Spain. And we’re in the heart of it here. According to the local choose-almeria.com guide, it was probably first settled by the Mozarabs about 1200 years ago in the early days of the Muslim occupation of Spain. I had a vague notion that I knew what the term Mozarab meant – but, hey, it’s always worth checking. The Mozarabs, it turns out, were not Muslim at all but rather Arabised Christians. So tolerant and sensible were the invading Moors, Berbers or whatever term is correct, that they struck agreements with the Christian population, allowing them to keep their property and retain their faith. There was the small matter of having to pay certain taxes and recognise the superiority of Islam as the last and final revelation from God, but everything has its price. Not a bad outcome for the Christians and the Jews, who were also long established hereabouts, and both communities enjoyed largely the same rights. This sounds like an early and highly effective form of Middle-Eastern peace process; there could be something here…… Anyway, even if choose-almeria.com got muddled about its Muslim terminology, it’s fascinating stuff and I feel myself warming to the theme. I wonder how much of that Moorish tolerance and pragmatism infiltrated the DNA of succeeding generations living here?

Both would be useful attributes in Bedar, given its history of being invaded. A quick look at the population statistics and you see that in the 15 years from 1999 to 2014, the population grew from 566 to 986 – that’s a staggering 74% suggesting incredible longevity, extraordinary sexual appetites yielding birth rates at an unprecedented level, or a huge influx of expatriates. Judging by the occupants of the big houses spread across the hillsides on the outskirts of town and the odd earwigged conversation in the local bar, the latest invaders are, without doubt, the Brits. At a guess, they make up half of the population. Hmm – how tolerated and integrated are they, I wonder?