[Update 2017 – sadly, the Camel Stop has closed.]
The Lecrin valley is a 30 minute drive from Órgiva on the way to Granada and houses a collection of municipalities including El Valle, Dúrcal, Béznar and Chite. At this time of year the stunning Sierra Nevada dominates part of the valley, like an icing sugar-smooth tsunami of snow.
Driving into Chite you get a sense of a local place for local people. We once popped into a bar here and thought we’d stepped into the 1950s. Had it not been for the solitary man at the bar puffing on a fag, we thought the village inhabitants – like those of Midwich – had fallen unconscious; it’s that sleepy (it has a famous part-time resident, but we won’t say who they are).
Among its quiet, meandering streets lies a gem – The Camel Stop. It’s the sort of place you have to be told about, rather than stumble upon. Walk through the entrance and you’re greeted with a treasure trove of furniture, mirrors, paintings, lights and more. Not one-wheeled trollies or plastic chairs, the items are chosen – as owner Gym told us – ‘as something I’d buy for myself.’ And she does personally choose pieces, only to see them leave for another home over time, like children flying the nest.
Leaving the 18th century, hand-painted wallpaper and matador’s jacket behind, a spiral staircase takes you to a floor packed with vintage clothing and hats. Rugs tumble from corners, surrounding an exquisite Indian bed, maybe 200 years old. It has its bits ‘n bobs too – brass taps, cute tin boxes and tiles – but none of it is junk which makes it a place worth visiting (open Tuesdays and by arrangement).
Gym’s a lovely woman with, we found out later, an interesting background. In 1970 she lived in the hills behind Marbella and, on departing, promised herself she’d one day return to settle in Spain – which she did in 1995. She’s an artist, interior decorator (including three London restaurants) and has worked on film set design – a skill seemingly transposed to her shop. If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit.
While Chite may be, The Camel Stop aside, just a collection of buildings, it does boast a 500 year-old house once used by the Spanish Royal family – and the painter José Guerrero lived in the village.
[Note: while this post is clearly a plug for The Camel Stop, we do not know Gym and she is unaware of this blog, as far as we know.]
© con jamón spain