Well, to be honest, I didn’t find the title very inspiring. Sounds like a hermit looking for religion and it probably wasn’t going to be a fun page-turner… but I was wrong. Sacred Sierra – A Year on a Spanish Mountain is light-hearted and thought-provoking. The author finds a 12 year old barman, and political activists who dance naked around bonfires.
Jason Webster, the aforementioned author, and his Spanish girlfriend embark on an adventure which has become more common over the past decade. They left their familiar lives and bought a house and a bit of mountain and settled down to make a new life that was totally removed from anything they had experienced before.
Sounds like an accident waiting to happen and it could well have turned out to be an expensive disaster. They have many obstacles to overcome or be overcome by but they showed an attitude that endeared them to the locals. Jason writes this book as a monthly journal of their trials and tribulations but also as a farming almanac showing little insights into the rhythm of the changing seasons and crops.
The landscape is breathtaking but the people are the real stars of this story. They are amazing characters who display warmth, generosity and courage. It’s true that Jason would not have achieved all that he did without the support of his friends who gave advice to a very green foreigner. They truly believe their small corner of the world to be enchanted and perhaps they are right. There are strange lights on that mountain and rumours of unexplained events.
There is a rich culture in the region of Castellon. There are stories of Cathars and Templars of Catholic tradition and pagan past. Jason punctuates his book with legends and fairy stories which add still more to the mystery. He has been included in rituals and rites that would normally be reserved for the indigenous population.
Jason learns to keep bees, to harvest olives and to make his own alcohol. The very mention of that has probably increased sales of this excellent book by 50%. He clears his land and searches for his missing roof. It’s a journey of discovery and personal growth. A book that you will have to read to the very last page. It has a cliff-hanger of an end… but the end isn’t the end, it’s just the start of the next chapter.
Sacred Sierra – A Year on a Spanish Mountain
Author: Jason Webster
Published by: Chatto and Windus – Random House
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018