Juan Quixote and the Blue Heart of Ronda

June 3, 2013

We set out on our quest for the Ronda peridotite this morning from the bull fighting capital of Andalucia. We started the day off with a fortuitous wrong turn that led us to a piece of Roman infrastructure:


An aqueduct from the Roman Empire.

After redirecting our course, we traveled westward through the Sierra Bermeja with our faithful steed, Doblo. The road followed ridges of limestone cliffs that were decorated with sparkling bolts of climbing routes longing to be sent – I’ll have to save that for another trip…We then made our way down into a canyon through several hillside pueblos until we hit a dirt track that services the many cortijos – ranches – in the area.


We were on a quest to find a sample of the Ronda Peridotite, a large piece of continental mantle that was exhumed from 90km below the surface of the Earth!


Juan Quixote uses his compass to orient the sample…


Juan Quixote breaks the Blue Heart of Ronda from the outcrop con la maceta de Ronda!


The Blue Heart of Ronda! But really, it’s peridotite.

After successfully acquiring the Blue Heart of Ronda, we began our ascent up the tortuous road out of the canyon. As we came around a steep switchback, we found a freshly fallen tree blocking our path!


This wasn’t here when we came down this road…

Even with all our strengths combined, the obstacle stayed staunchly in its place…we lacked any rope or chains to enlist the help of the Doblo, so we turned around…

Even though the nature of the setback was funny to me, a quote from Yvon Chouinard instantly came to mind:

“…when everything goes wrong, that’s when the adventure starts”

Juan Quixote had his sample, but it seemed that the Blue Heart of Ronda did not want to be easily extracted from the canyon…

We approached a cortijo down the canyon to ask the goat herders we had seen earlier if they could help us…


A dog leads Juan Quixote and company to the cortijo…


The gates of the cortijo, guard dogs included.

The four of us compiled our knowledge of the Spanish language to explain our predicament. Unfortunately, La mujer de las cabras turned us away, saying she could not help us. We decided we would try our luck with a dirt road going in the opposite direction, with the hope that it would lead to a paved road.

The next challenge was to take the Doblo up a steep section of road blanketed in boulders and cobbles of peridotite. A front wheel drive Fiat is not the best way to travel on such a road, as we quickly learned.


Doblo, poised for ascent of the steep hill just outside the right of the frame…


Blood spiders on serpentinite in the creek below the bridge!

Luckily, we were able to push Doblo up the hill, and subsequently arrive at an unknown paved road.

We quickly discovered that it was the road to La Puerta de Peñas Blancas, and that we would have a bit of a detour:


It was a good view, to say the least.

We made it to the pass and headed back downhill towards Jubrique to get a late afternoon lunch and celebrate our successful acquisition of the Blue Heart!

After lunch, we made the trek to the Los Reales mirador, and were greeted with a spectacular view of the Rock of Gibraltar, the Strait, and the Rif mountains across the Mediterranean in Morocco.


Africa and Europe in the same photo, nice.


The crew at Los Reales


Juan Quixote scours the road in search of one last sample that succeeded in eluding us all that evening.

We ended the day in Estepona, back on the Costa del Sol from our quest for peridotites in the mountains!

[posted from Guadix, Andalucia, June 4]


3 responses to “Juan Quixote and the Blue Heart of Ronda

  1. Pingback: 10 reasons you should be a geologist “when you grow up” | KLKgeo·

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