A quiet, booming little town
Now that I've got you up here, at the base of the Torre del Rayo on the peak overlooking the sea, I can show you the tops of the whole town of Carboneras. That's it, down below us to the east, where the shining blue sea ripples up into the double-curved beach. "La Puntica"("The Litte Point") is that narrow point of the beach that juts out to divide the near curve from the further one. About 5,000 people live year-round in that cluster of white buildings, denser near the water and especially crowded in a section just inland from the "puntica." (People hereabouts use "-ico" and "-ica" a lot for their diminutives. Supposedly it's an Aragonese speech habit, not general in Andalucía, that came here when Fernando of Aragón settled the area with people from his home kingdom right after the Reconquista.)

Actually, you've probably already seen this town, or certainly the surrounding countryside. It figures prominently in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" -- turn the other way, to the beach just west of where we're standing, that's Algarrobico, where the movie producers built a cardboard version of Aqaba, and Peter O'Toole and Alec Guiness and, especially, Anthony Quinn made themselves popular with the locals, who got themselves dressed up as Arabs and climbed onto camels to make good money as extras. Sergio Leone, John Lennon and lots of other moviemakers used this terrain for background.

The movie business has moved on, though it's fondly remembered. Nowadays the big activity is building second homes (or vacation rent-share apartments) for people from other parts of Spain, and France and Germany and -- especially in nearby Mojácar -- England. That's why you see that cloud of dust rising just beyond the ridge to our east. Big machines are excavating these ancient hills, each apartment complex competing with the others for the best view on the hills around the little village. I should introduce you to some of the players. But first, let's get down to that beach I was telling you about, where there will be some welcome shade. (Luby: I know you've been worried about how we managed in the record heat. Fortunately, it was a few degrees cooler near the water than elsewhere in southern Spain. We left on August 1, just ahead of another rise in temperatures, but it was hot even by the beach -- up to 36º C. on some days. Further inland, it got to 40º, which is 104º F. Phew! You really appreciate shade at those times.)

John Lennon in Carboneras
More movie scenes you may remember
Scenes from the Parque Natural Cabo de Gata
Coat of Arms in Carboneras town hall (el ayuntamiento) and
beach scene also in stained glass in the ayuntamiento
the road to Mojácar and Garrucha, east of Carboneras; the bay of Carboneras is at the top of the photo.

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