By chance one Sunday four years ago I read in The Sunday Times about the Azahar, the coast of Castellón, and how it was still a real working part of Spain, not just a tacky concreted tourist destination.
On an impulse I flew to have a look and found much to my dismay that The Times had been more than economical with the truth. The coast appeared to be in fact pretty much a tacky concreted tourist destination, albeit with an overwhelmingly Spanish clientele. However, as soon as I ventured inland, I found a world frozen in time, or partly crumbling in time, while another world was developing around it, thanks to a vast EU investment of pristine new roads. The old fascinated me, while I wondered what changes the modern world would in time bring thanks to this newly created accessibility.
I left, and then kept on coming back, pulled by the vast empty landscape of El Maestrat, the mountains that stretch across the province of Castellón. The echoes of the moors responded at every twist and turn of the mountain roads, etched in the ubiquitous dry stone walling of their slopes. These were built painstakingly by hand over centuries and have left a magnificent legacy which has transformed much of the hinterland, here and elsewhere in Spain, into picturesque terraces of almond and olive trees.
Eventually I bought a finca (farm basically) and so started to learn more about El Maestrat. The photo above is how my finca house looked the first day I saw it and there are thousands like this scattered all over the mountains. Mine has changed a lot since then and that is a very long story that might bore the pants off of you, involving builders and dramas, compromises and off-grid eco dilemmas. It is a labour of unquestioning love, but truthfully I yearn back to the way it was above. Lost, alone, beckoning to me romantically. It is for this reason that I am documenting as much as I can around me. Before the region adapts to the music of the modern world, and before all that is left is photos of the past and realities of the present.
“Could it be I am looking through sepia-coloured glasses?”