Making a dream a reality is something some of us may have been lucky enough to have realised in our lives. For Virtudes and her family, however, this was on a scale most of us haven’t managed.
In 1998 she returned to her family’s abandoned village in the hills above Frigliana to begin a project to restore and revive the place her father grew up in. To say the place was run down would be an understatement – in one of the houses a 10m fig tree was growing through what used to be the roof. “There was not a single roof on the houses,” Virtudes told me as she guided me round the now immaculate streets that make up this tranquil village. “Working house by house, we have used the original materials to rebuild the village as it was. Obviously people won’t be returning to be goat herders here, but there is a growing interest in rural tourism and Frigliana is very popular with walkers.” Virtudes also has other plans for El Acebuchal – while the place is popular with passing tourists and people looking for something special for a holiday, the village is also an ideal place for retreats – guests can have not just a room while they are on their course, but a whole house, and a traditional Andalcuian village to convert into a centre for a yoga week, meditation retreat or personal development course. The privacy and peace that El Acebuchal offers is unique.
Virtudes explained how the village came to be abandoned, caught between the Guardia Civil and the republicans during the Civil War, they were forced to leave and became scattered throughout the region, and not returning during peace time. Her vision and passion to restore the village came from her childhood memories of visiting with her father, and has now seen the first birth, marriage and baptisms in the carefully renovated tiny village chapel since it was abandoned – something of great pride for her and her family.
“Every house is unique and every restoration, from the first stone to the last picture on the wall, is done with love,” Virtudes continued during our tour. A gallery of photos in the café at the top of the village shows the contrast of life when the village was previously occupied and a fascinating montage shows the scale of the work to restore it. “Electricity had to be brought from a very long way, running water needed to be connected in all the houses and streets had to be laid,” Virtudes told me, explaining some of the issues they had to face. “Now, the gardens are full of flowers, people are strolling through the streets and there are free concerts of birdsong every evening.” Some of the courses that are already being planned include Reiki, creative arts, yoga and astrology, but for anyone wanting to see how dreams are realised, El Acebuchal is just 10 minutes from Frigliana on the main coast road east of Málaga.
Tel: 650 617 901 o 650 956 033
This post is also available in: Spanish