Zbigniew and Eliza on one of their long walks in the mountains near Cómpeta. / SUR

Enjoying harmony and the rhythm of life in the Axarquía

Eliza and Zbigniew are involved in organising the Cómpeta Artwalk and form part of the village's lively creative scene

JENNIE RHODES

Eliza Saroma-Stępniewska and Zbigniew Jan Stępniewski are originally from Warsaw but have lived in Cómpeta for around four years. They were drawn to the mountainous Axarquía village thanks to its artistic vibe and possibilities for walking.

Eliza 45, a poet, editor, proofreader, copywriter and translator, and Zbigniew 46, a computer programmer and musician, were in that enviable position of being able to "work remotely". So after several months of research on possible locations, they eventually settled on the Axarquía, where they already had friends.

"Our friends put us in contact with someone who rented properties and when we heard that it was much cheaper to rent something for longer periods, we just thought, why not? Let's try half a year," Eliza explains.

However, the couple, who have been together for 20 years and married for 14, soon fell in love with the area and six months soon became 12... and the rest is history.

Since they have been in Cómpeta, they have become an integral part of the village's thriving creative scene and Eliza is a member of the local choir, 'Coro de Cómpeta', which she says "is the best choir I've belonged to."

As a musician, Zbigniew has also built a reputation, so much so that one of his compositions premiered at the village's Artwalk, which took place earlier this month. Through the choir the composer met Malaga pianist Elena Mota García, who performed the piece.

But the couple's involvement in the artistic event goes further; they were part of the organising team, with Eliza doing the marketing and publicity and Zbigniew's artwork forming part of the poster.

In addition to this, Eliza launched her latest book of poems, which is written in Polish and translated by her into English. 'Frigor Mortis' is a collection of poetry inspired by drawings that Eliza's late mother, Alicja Saroma, who passed away in 2021, had done. However, Eliza says, "Mum never showed the artistic part of her nature to the world. She was too shy so would just draw for herself".

The book, Eliza says, is "a kind of joint artistic venture between mother and daughter, blurring the boundaries between death and life."

The poet explains that she came across her mother's artwork while "browsing through some of her things" and decided to publish them alongside her poems as a tribute.

Eliza is also co-author of a book of children's nursery rhymes on the subject of ecology, 'Draka Ekonieboraka' (Econinny's Blunders) and two other poetry books, 'The Art of Folding' and 'Selfies, Half-Shadows and Darkness'.

Shared passions

The couple share a passion and talent for words and music. While Eliza writes verse, and sings with the local choir, Zbigniew, a self-taught composer explains that he really discovered his talent at high school when along with his brothers, he started creating alternative music in the form of punk and hip-hop. A musical journey then led him to start composing symphonic music in 2000.

"My pieces are about feelings and emotions that only a fellow creature can understand, so I have never decided to publish computer versions of my compositions," Zbigniew explains.

Although his longer symphonic pieces haven't yet been performed, the musician's piano compositions have and that is where Elena Mota García came in at the recent Cómpeta artwalk. "I was lucky, I met Elena Mota García who, during the Cómpeta Artwalk, played my composition."

When the couple are not working or creating art, their other joint passion is going for long walks in the mountains around Cómpeta and exploring the area.

So they agree that in Cómpeta they have found harmony; somewhere that allows them to create their art, be surrounded by other artists and enjoy the great outdoors that the Axarquía also provides.