“You’re doing well, Josh.”
My brother was silent in concentration as he guided the tiny Toyota around the narrow road that clung to the side of the mountain. To the right side was a sheer drop that wasn’t even worth thinking about, while to the left the hulk of rock loomed over us at what felt like a 90 degree angle. Off in the distance clusters of white houses studded the mountain range, and I desperately wanted to fire off a few 35mm exposures, but the roll in my camera was full, and to expel and reload required too much movement that may result in one of my knees jabbing the back of the driver’s seat in the wrong way…I was not about to take any chances.
“The sat-nav’s telling us to basically go back the way we came, maybe I can make a U-turn…”
Josh slowed the car at a point where the road momentarily widened, but to perform such a manoeuvre would require reversing the car straight back towards the edge of the cliff face. In place of a metal barrier at the road’s edge was a section of chalk-like ground that you could imagine slipping away as the back car tyres spun uselessly, not to mention the fact that the section of road we were on was behind a blind corner. The whole endeavour seemed disastrous, so we continued until we came to a single-exit roundabout probably built just for this purpose, and we were on our way again, winding back around the crags and crevices we had just encountered.
The entrance to Cortijo Country Club involved an impossibly steep incline which I silently prayed the little hire car would be able to conquer. As we lurched up the hill, my stomach flipped, and once again I regretted the devil’s mix of champagne, red wine, and rum I had heartily backed the night before. As we parked up we could hear the sound of the party in full swing. We could see bodies in white glowing in the Spanish sun between the greenery, and hear the low rumble of conversation and laughter as the other guests waited at the buffet table and sipped chilled bottles of fruit cider. I briefly remembered the mention of sangria on the invitation, but my tight head and churning stomach advised me otherwise: agua solamente.
Fortunately the brisk mountain air soon dealt with the vestiges of the previous evening’s festivities, and my grogginess gave way to a clarity of mind that left me in absolute awe of the view. We were just fifteen minutes from the playas and Paseo Marítimo of Marbella, but almost a world away. Though the Andalusian mountains provide a stunning backdrop to the views inland from the low-lying coast, I didn’t appreciate how accessible their peaks were from the beach hotspot. I breathed deeply once again, looked out at the haze of the sea horizon, before turning to watch my friends play croquet in the shade of the conifer trees. I sipped my water and felt renewed.