A small friendly Andalucian mountain village. Paradise in fact! The air is pure, the folk friendly, the food fresh, and local traditions intact. For a resident population of less than 100, Cartajima is exceptionally well serviced.
- three bars each of which serves its own food specialities
- municipal gym open to all for the nominal payment of 10 euros a month
- outdoor exercise machines at the entrance to the village
- swimming pool is open during the summer with a lifeguard employed by the provincial government
- two shops, in one of which you can buy steaming bread, hot from the oven.
- doctor comes every morning
- postman who will put stamps on postcards
- church service – Catholic – most Saturdays
The only major convenience that we don’t have is a bank. There was one but it was closed a few years ago so the nearest hole in the wall is Ronda, just 15 minutes away. Nobody takes cards here (except us).
The pristine white houses, clustered together around the church, are an inspiration for many an artistic rendition.
HISTORY – Cartajima’s origins are illusive. It was probably founded by the invading Islamic forces in 711 – but any record is bured in the archives of Salamanca. Despite what you will read elsewhere, there is no sign that the Romans ventured into the delightful Alto Genal.
What is known is that in 1492 when all the non-Christians were kicked out of Spain, there were only 20 people left in Cartajima. The village was repopulated with folk from northern Spain and Portugal.
ECONOMY – The local economy is based on the fruit of the chestnut trees which fill the valley and account for the hotel name. Every family has their trees which are meticulously tended. The harvest takes place in the autumn and is celebrated with a toston or toasting.
ARCHITECTURE – Cartajima is a classic pueblo blanco of houses tightly clustered together, whitewashed walls, and narrow streets – all this reflecting the Arab origins.
CUISINE – You will read elsewhere that rabbit stew is the typical dish. It might have been at one time but no more. People eat dishes based on chicken, eggs, wild boar which I am told is freely available if you know who to ask. A classic example of a local dish is Sopa refrita, a simple but delicious winter soup based on peppers, eggs and bread.
EMPLOYMENT – Some people seek work in Ronda or on the Costa del Sol as there is little opportunity in the village unless you are prepared to take on the onerous bureaucracy of setting up your own business. But most working age people are employed by a national rural employment scheme which provides them with a pension in exchange for local work around the village, such as painting public buildings.
FESTIVALS – important celebrations include Easter, the August feria, the June romeria and the patron saint’s day in October. But in reality any excuse for a party! All festivals are celebrated with enormous good humour and generosity. They are the lucky guests whose visits coincide with one of these delightfully simple and joyful occasions.