The Cave, Finca & Cortijo Forum. Andalucia..


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The Cave, Finca & Cortijo Forum. Andalucia..
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are you all mad??

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are you all mad?? Empty are you all mad??

Post by bigcol Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:07 pm

2 members of the forum
I being the founder and another one who is a life long member quotes from a old history book

are they mad??

who really wants to live in a dark hole in a wall really, why not buy a caravan??

debate please I'm diving below the parapet


'We've heard all the comments about Flintstones and dinosaurs and cavemen with clubs," says Iain Macdonald, sitting outside his home in the wilds of southern Spain. "But to be honest, if we weren't part of the 'community', I'd probably be making them myself."

This "community", which serves as the butt of so many jokes, is both old and young at the same time. Old, because we're talking about people who live in the earliest homes known to man. Young, because until a few years ago, this was a way of life which had all but disappeared.

These are the new cave dwellers of northern Andalusía: a group of people who have made the move to Spain, but who turned their back on the Costas and headed deep inland and deep underground.

It's a lifestyle which has long been familiar in the area around the town of Huéscar and the nearby villages of Galera and Orce. This is the altiplano, the high plain north of Granada, hemmed in by three mountain ranges and subject to extremes of heat in summer and cold in winter.

So why would anyone want to live here - and why would they choose a cave?

Cost is a compelling reason. For hundreds of years, the locals burrowed into hillsides all over the region, digging out the soft layers between hard sandstone strata and using the tougher stuff as watertight roofing. It didn't cost anything, and when you needed an extra room, you just dug one out.

But caves came with a social stigma. These were the refuges of gypsies and the poor, and while thousands of families across Granada province lived in cave houses as recently as the 1960s, they escaped to more conventional housing as Franco's regime tottered and the region became more prosperous.

Five or six years ago, Spaniards began buying old caves and reforming them as holiday homes. Cave hotels followed and - in their wake - the first wave of British and French troglodytes arrived in 2002.

The locals were only too happy to sell off their old caves for a couple of thousand euros, but soon "wised up". As Iain Macdonald says: "Not long ago, you could win a cave in a game of cards, or, if you bought one, the owner would throw in a second cave free. Nowadays, the locals know they have sought-after commodities."

Even so, an unreformed cave is still a good buy at anything from £12,000 upwards. Turning it into a modern, habitable hole in the ground can cost as little as £10,000 or as much as £70,000, depending on the proximity of services and the size of the property.

Iain and his partner, Gayle Hartley, went the DIY route. They moved from Newcastle-upon-Tyne just over two years ago, living with their then two-year-old son, Joshua, in a caravan while they renovated their cave in the hamlet of Fuente Nueva, near Orce.

"People thought we were mad," says Gayle. "They were convinced caves were wet and dirty and that we wouldn't be able to live a normal life. They couldn't be more wrong, though. We have mains drainage and sewage, mains electricity, satellite television and even a broadband internet connection."

Their nine-room cave certainly has a finished - if rustic - feel to it: tiled floors throughout, rough-plastered walls, a tiled bathroom and a fully-equipped kitchen. But what about the lack of light?

"We have windows at the front but, of course, the rooms further back have no natural light," Gayle says. "You don't miss it, though. I like to think of it as a bungalow without a back door."

And the weather? "Caves have a constant temperature of 16C-19C," says Iain. "They're cool in summer and escape the winter cold, when it can drop to -15C on the altiplano. You need some form of heating, but most caves - ours included - have wood-burning stoves, which is more than enough."

Cueva Esperanza (Cave of Hope), as they have called their new dwelling, is built into the hillside, but the trend is for reformed caves to have rooms added on at the front.

Karen and Malcolm MacManus, who live on the edge of Huéscar, have gone one step further: they have a family-size swimming pool on the large, enclosed terrace in front of their house.

"We moved to Spain five years ago, to the Costa Calida," Karen says. "But it was too 'British' there and we've moved four times since, trying to get away from those influences. We came to Spain to be part of the culture."

In their case, that includes the gitano, or gypsy culture. The MacManuses and their daughter, Lauren, live in an area where caves are being renovated for selling to foreigners alongside others still occupied by gipsy families.

"The Spanish don't have a good word for them, but we have found the gitanos to be really good neighbours and the children are always polite and friendly," Karen says. "They come and play in the pool with Lauren all summer long. It's a great way of integrating."

The MacManuses bought their seven-room cave unrenovated and, with an additional three rooms at the front, the pool and two terraces, their total bill was £165,000. "You couldn't buy a three-bedroom terrace for that back home," Karen says.

"People change their mind about cave-living once they've visited us. They see the standard and quality of life here and they're quite envious."

Estimates of the number of British troglodytes in the area vary between a couple of hundred and more than 1,000. One woman who seems to know most of them is Vanessa St John-Brown. With her partner, Robert Marshall, she has bought a cave house and, with it, half a mountain. She moved her mother in from the house on the Costa Blanca where she lived for 20 years and helped set up a website called Caves R Us which acts as an estate agency, advice forum and general information point.

"We share information a lot," she says. "As people renovate, they pick up tips and like to pass them on. It's not exact, like building a house, so people are grateful for any help they can get.
bigcol
bigcol

Posts : 933
Join date : 2010-03-19
Age : 61
Location : On the high seas somwhere!! I've stopped drinking water .... I hseen what it does to the bottom of our boat!

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