Estepona Paseo Maritimo at Playa la Rada
Estepona Spain I

While other resorts grew chiefly from tourism, Estepona's wealth was based on farming and fishing. Most inhabitants still farm a strip of land in their spare time. Rings outside town houses are used to tether mules and donkeys when they return with produce from the fields. Grass mats are laid through the sitting room and the beasts are led to back yard stables. Each evening, while bars, clubs and restaurants swing into action, the homeward procession of animals reminds Estepona of her roots. A statue of a farmer and fisherman on the promenade pays tribute to the men who gave the town prosperity.

Craftsmen still stitch the bright trappings for donkeys and mules. Others produce basketwork, woodwork, wrought ironwork, lacework and embroidery.
It is worth seeing the bustling co-operative society around five pm when fruits and vegetables are being auctioned for market next day. Here , the Ministry of Agriculture runs an Agrarian Extension where experiments are being carried out on the growth of tropical fruits in the area. Anyone may go for free expert advice on gardening.

Outside the Co-operative is the start of the mountain road which will eventually join Estepona with Ronda. To date, it climbs 15 km's through beautiful pine woods, hunting reserves and past bubbling springs to PeƱas Blanca at 980 metres. From here a firm, wide track continues 4.5 km's to a refuge just below the 1.500 metre peak of the Sierra Bermeja - the Red Ginger Mountain, rich in iron oxide. On the north-facing slopes grow 9.000 of the beautiful and rare Abies Pinsapo silver fir trees, now under protection of Icona,

Spain's Institute for the Conservation of Nature. Estepona and two other spots in the Serrania de Ronda are the only places in the world where they can be found. The oldest trees are estimated to be around 300 years. Icona has made a walk through the pines and built the refuge where visitors may barbecue or picnic. At weekends, excellent local food is served. From the summit is an impressive panorama of the Costa del Sol, African mountains, Gibraltar and most of the Ronda villages.

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