The Bridle-Roads of Andalusia.
Change of Weather—Napoleon and his Horses—Departure from Granada—My Guide, Jose Garcia—His Domestic Troubles—The Tragedy of the Umbrella—The Vow against Aguardiente—Crossing the Vega—The Sierra Nevada—The Baths of Alhama—“Woe is Me, Alhama!”—The Valley of the River Velez—Velez Malaga—The Coast Road—The Fisherman and his Donkey—Malaga—Summer Scenery—The Story of Don Pedro, without Fear and without Care—The Field of Monda—A Lonely Venta.
Venta de Villalon, November 20, 1852.
The clouds broke away before I had been two hours in the Alhambra, and the sunshine fell broad and warm into its courts. They must be roofed with blue sky, in order to give the full impression of their brightness and beauty. Mateo procured me a bottle of vino rancio, and we drank it together in the Court of Lions. Six hours had passed away before I knew it, and I reluctantly prepared to leave. The clouds by this time had disappeared; the Vega slept in brilliant sunshine, and the peaks of the Sierra Nevada shone white and cold against the sky.
On reaching the hotel, I found a little man, nicknamed Napoleon, awaiting me. He was desirous to furnish me with horses, and, having a prophetic knowledge of the weather, promised me a bright sky as far as Gibraltar. “I furnish all the senors,” said he; “they know me, and never complain of me or my horses;” but, by way of security, on making the bargain, I threatened to put up a card in the hotel at Gibraltar, warning all travellers against him, in case I was not satisfied. My contract was for two horses and a guide, who were to be ready at sunrise the next morning. Napoleon was as good as his word; and before I had finished an early cup of chocolate, there was a little black Andalusian stallion awaiting me. The alforjas, or saddle-bags, of the guide were strengthened by a stock of cold provisions, the leathern bota hanging beside it was filled with ripe Granada wine; and now behold me ambling over the Vega, accoutred in a gay Andalusian jacket, a sash woven by Mateo Ximenes, and one of those bandboxy sombreros, which I at first thought so ungainly, but now consider quite picturesque and elegant.