Our "house" is truly in the middle of nowhere with a dirt road leading up to it. Asides from us, there is only one other house further down the mountain, but otherwise we rarely see anyone or any cars! Mainly we just see bugs and lizards :)
Hiking & Discoveries
Today we set off on a short hike in the mountains and found so many wonderful things. This area, known as Campo, is very well known for its olive and almond trees. The harvested olives are mainly used for olive oil, which is made at a mill in town.
Olives & Olive Trees
This was our first time seeing olive trees :) Which means we really have no knowledge of what the olives we buy at the store go through before they make it to our dinner table. I picked an olive that looked ready to me and took a bite! YUCK! I had to spit the whole thing out. It was bitter and tasted awful. I assumed that it must not have been ready. Later in the day, when we chatted with the property owner, I found out that olives are generally picked when they are still green but have started turning black. BUT, you still can't eat an olive like that. According to the book called Campo, a guide to the Spanish countryside (written by the property owner's mother), you must do something with olives you have picked right away as the fermentation process starts shortly after an olive is picked off the tree. The easiest thing to do is to "crack" the olive with a stone and soak it in salt water. You must change the water every couple of days. Depending on your preference, the olives should be ready to eat anytime between a week to a month.
Since not everyone knows how to crack an olive with a stone without totally crushing it, you can also just create a slit with a knife (not a method the locals approve of, as they believe the metal edge of a knife ruins the flavor).
As we made our way through the olive trees, we reached a totally dried up river. During winter and early spring, there is water in this river. However, at this time of year the river is mainly dry, very very dry. We had fun walking in the "river" and finding interesting plants. We also found dry and wet clay. We collected some wet clay to bring home and model with the kids. Nature's play dough!
Ants, Cactus, Snails, and Bones
Other sightings on our walk included an ant hill, snail shells of various sizes, and lots of cacti with cool prickly pears that you can apparently eat. We were told by the properly owner to not try to pick these fruits, as the sharp pins can cause agony for days. The locals have a special way of picking these. We saw a few on the ground and I stepped on them to reveal an orange seedy inside, which looked like a tomato. Our craziest discovery was a jaw bone with teeth still attached!
Our hike resulted in the collection of some dry clay to be used as a canvas for painting, some wet clay to be used for modeling and building little sculptures with, and some snail shells, the residents of which had vacated :)
The kids had a blast painting for a while in the courtyard.
A dip in the pool followed by some playtime on the swing set concluded our 2nd day in here in the gorgeous mountains of Riogordo.
Did I mention how much we are loving all the space, privacy, and the nature around us? The warm weather and the gorgeous blue sky are just the cherries on top!
Can you believe it is warm enough to swim here in October?