June 16, 2017 by: Diana Beach
Cartajima: Village of Champions, Fountain of Inspiration?
You would never imagine that the tiny village pictured above, resident population less than one hundred, has produced a high percentage of champions. In each case, the inspiration for the excellence is elusive.
Two English girls who have lived here for most of their lives, are amazing athletes, Lily´s ambition when she was three, however, was to be a princess and paint her nails but when she was four she announced that she wanted to be a runner. She said it was "in her heart". The touchpaper was lit and she began to run. She won her first race!
She rose through the ranks and is now Andalucian Champion Triple Jump and 400 m hurdles. The local papers refer to her as "La Gazella Blanca" Her younger sister, Jasmine, has just earned Andalucian Champion status also. Next stop, Nationals, and then ....!
Then there is Baltasar Junior who grew up in a traditional eating environment - his grandmother's and mother's simple eatery in Cartajima. Where did the inspiration come from that made him even know about another very different culinary world? But he knew what he wanted and eventually persuaded his parents. ("You want to be a what!!!") He earned a Michelin star at a hotel in Sevilla and now runs VinoTinto in Fuengirola. I suggest you stop there en route to his home town, Cartajima! Say hello from me!
And then there is Hotel Los Castaños, small rural beautiful Andalucian boutique hotel with only six rooms. Nobody in their right mind would build such a place in an unknown village in an overlooked valley in the heartland of Andalucia. But when the spark strikes, it has to be followed. Di Beach´s crazy vision has been vindicated 13 years after opening Los Castaños by winning the prestigious award for Best Inland Hotel 2016. Awarded annually to the Best City Hotel, Best Coastal Hotel and Best Inland Hotel, the winners have always been the Goliaths such as Paradors and other large chain hotels. Never has a small foreign-owned, independent, David of a hotel won. We are very proud!
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