Yecla - Our month living in Spain

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Yec 001After a month on the road exploring Morocco & relaxing in Granada, we travelled by bus to Murcia then on to Yecla. Yecla is a town of 30,000 in the North of Murcia close to the border with Alicante and Valencia, and was the location we were going to spend the rest of March.

Yec 002To understand how we came to visit Yecla, a place I’m sure most people won’t know, we have to go back a year to when Rina and I went on a Conservation Volunteers Australia Wombat Weekend. On this trip we met a Spanish couple, who lived in Adelaide, and their sister, who was visiting from Spain. We became friends over the course of the weekend and met for dinner a few times throughout the year. At one of these dinners we described our intention to visit Spain and work for an Organic Farm and hopefully experience a little of Spanish life. Martin told us that he and his brother were part of an organic collective in Yecla and said that he would see if it was possible for us to work with them. He did, and now we were travelling to a town we knew very little, of to meet people we didn’t know, let alone what they looked like.

Yec 003When we arrived in the early evening we were greeted warmly by Pepi, Paco and Elie (Martin’s family) and soon found ourselves a little out of our depth. We had undertaken a small amount of study in Spanish the previous year but were not at all confident in speaking it, and for the most part people in Yecla did not speak English. Thankfully we had the foresight to download Google Translate to assist us with our vocabulary. For the first few days Google Translate was essentially how we spoke but gradually we began to understand the language and even to speak a little without the aid of a translator.

The month went by in a blur and what started as being a study of Spanish life became a deeply personal experience. We met many wonderful people who we know count as friends and as part of our extended family. To attempt to tell the entire experience would take volumes (which I may one day publish), so I will tell a little of everything and if you want more then catch me up sometime and buy me a drink.

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The Yeclanos we met were a mix of various backgrounds, joined by family, friendship and geography. They were some of warmest and generous people I have ever met, and gave us a home away from home. Each of them told us their stories and we told them ours as we shared our time. I do not think I have ever felt love for people as quickly as I did here.

Yec 009Yecla has many unique aspects to its culture which includes their dialect. Learning to understand Spanish here was interesting because of the unique words of Yecla as well as their pronunciation of words we already knew. It was common for them to drop the ‘s’ at the end of words and the ‘d’ from others (especially from the middle of a word). I’m sure that many people thought we were a bit soft in the head when we stared blankly, attempting to translate, as they spoke.

Yecla has a love of food, with a great variety of restaurants to be found throughout the city. It also has some great variations on Spanish dishes. While in Yecla we were introduced to an annual event – Ruta del Vino & La Tapa. The Ruta is an excellent collaboration between 18 restaurants and 4 vineyards. The challenge is that the Restaurant has to provide a dish and a glass of wine for €2.50. We completed the Ruta in 4 days and tasted some excellent tapa. Part of the Ruta is also to vote on which is the best. The top 5 for us were: Tapeo, Pachamama, Delturco, Los Chispos, El Olivio De Jaén.


Our friend Juan also took us to Jumilla to meet with some of his friends for a wine tasting lunch. We tasted some excellent local wines and ate some wonderful food. The passion for food and drink is throughout the region.

See also my article: Yecla - Gastronomy

Yec 010Aside from the people and food, we discovered that Yecla has been continuously inhabited for over 9000 years. There are archaeological sites throughout the area covering prehistoric cave paintings and early human settlements, Roman and Iberian ruins, a Medina (called Yakka) from early mediaeval times and ruins from when Yecla was the border between the kingdoms of Aragon and Castillo. Yecla also has a small but excellent museum, Museo Arqueológico Municipal de Yecla (MaYe). The museum is home to an excellent display of artefacts from the region with notes detailing their discovery and history. There are audio visual displays as well as physical displays. Throughout the city are plaques containing quotes from Azorin, a poet who adopted Yecla as his muse. Discovering all of this it made me wonder why I had never heard of it before.

50 kilometres east of Yecla is the town of Bocairent, a beautiful medieval city upon a hill with a Moorish cave settlement in the hill below. We took a day trip here with a friend who grew up there before the city expanded. It is a wonderful looking city but seems incredibly impractical in today’s world, with electrical conduits scarring the view and cars scrapping the corners of buildings and stone stairs.

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Yecla is an incredibly culturally rich place filled with incredible people that I have trouble reconciling the touristic anonymity of the city.

I would like to thank all the people who were our friends and guides throughout our time in Yecla. Martin and Sabela for making this all possible; Pepi and Paco; Elie and Amanda; Amadeo, Isabella and Alba; Jesús; Juan, Carolina and Valentina; Jose Carlos and Pasquelita; Jose and Isabel; Maria Rosa and Mario; Juanjo; Carmen and everyone from Bulebar. To all of you, I say: Gracias por la experiencia incredíble.

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Other stories from Spain:

Australia FlagGranada

Australia FlagVaughan Town

Australia FlagYecla - Gastronomy

Spain Flag

Yecla - Gastronomía

Australia FlagYecla - Working without a Common Language

Spain Flag Yecla -Voluntariado

Australia FlagMadrid

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