I was still travelling alone through Spain, most of my friends were still in after-christmas-family time-occupations. I wanted find a quiet place to disconnect myself from the busy city life and do nothing but sleep, read, think, maybe paint for a week. So I decided to go and stay at Beneficio for some time. For what I had heard about Beneficio it was a paradise-like place in the granadine Alpujarra where around 200 people lived withdrawn in the mountains, a eco-community in a place which location is kept more or less secret, but a place where one could go and retreat from Babylonia and its mainstream culture.
A friend told me how to get there from Granada. When I looked it up on the map, I found out, the town Órgiva was located between the río sucio (dirty river) and the río seco (dry river), I hoped this was not literal. From Órgiva I took the wrong way twice, but asking the locals I found the valley. The first thing you see is a parking place with cars from different european countries, behind there are some improvised houses, but down there it’s shadow almost all day long, so the “actual” Beneficio starts walking on, through the forest by the stream, so I was being told.
My first impression was kind of bad for the reason that it didn’t match my previous expectations. I expected people more or less like you would meet on a rainbow gathering, hippies that probably seem weird at first sight, but probably become good friends after some days. I was not expecting to be welcomed “home” with hugs, and tea. Comprehensibly, people come to live in the mountains to have a quiet life, not to become a tourist attraction, I for that felt a little like an intruder. The first day I passed maybe five people and not a single one returned my “hello”. I went there to be alone and disconnected, but when I was not explicitly welcomed I felt bad. I found a nice place in the pine forest, pitched my tent, put up my hammock, ate some fruits and read some chapters, thinking about how I felt and why. In the evening taking courage I climbed down to visit the common Tipi, which I had heard of. There I got an “hello”. Some young men with dirty dreadlocks and big smiles where singing and dancing in some kind of meditative rhythm. I didn’t want to disturb them, but this “hello” had made a big difference to enhance my mood. Maybe humans are through and through social beings, always organized in groups, I thought, maybe it’s not that easy to retreat and be alone as I had pretended.
to be continued (with happy ending)