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Prime minister Sánchez during his trip to the Sierra de las Nieves. S. SALAS
Pedro's dose of mountain air

Pedro's dose of mountain air

THE BOTTOM LINE ·

Now that the PM has been to visit and had his photo taken with that beautiful backdrop of mountainsides covered in those special pinsapo firs, everyone will want to go

Friday, 4 February 2022, 12:41

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The images from Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's visit to this area on Monday were better than most produced by the photographers with the job of trailing top politicians on official business. There was the leader of this country - and his entourage of several layers of officials - standing at a mountain viewpoint where I have stood on numerous occasions.

The Sierra de las Nieves is now Spain's newest National Park and this week's VIP visit marked the start of a process that promises to add greater protection to this stunning area as well as boosting the local economy.

Now that the PM has been to visit and had his photo taken with that beautiful backdrop of mountainsides covered in those special pinsapo firs, everyone will want to go.

That's the point, of course, but I can't help - selfishly - feeling annoyed that Sánchez has gone and revealed my secret to the rest of the country. Imagine if the next time I go, I'm surrounded by visitors taking selfies and I get stuck in hiker jams along the footpaths through the trees.

On the other hand, a wonder like the Sierra de las Nieves deserves to be appreciated by more than me, Pedro and a handful of others.

Now it's up to the authorities to manage their new status, funds and responsibilities wisely. When more people flock to a place, the more chances there are of litter and parking problems.

But as well as being left in awe of the mountain views and taking their photos, the National Park's visitors will also discover the excellent butcher's in the village and sample the tapas of the local bar.

What's more, they will provide business for existing and new rural hotels and accommodation, generate employment and even boost the population of some of these pretty villages that are really just a stone's throw from the Costa del Sol.

Whenever I stand at that favourite spot, admiring the imposing scene before me, I take deep breaths, recharging my batteries with enough fresh mountain air to keep me going till my next visit. I then head back down to the city and walk the streets, feeling that little bit special: humbled by the vast, silent beauty of the mountains and forests, and at the same time better equipped to deal with the tasks and decisions of a working week.

Sánchez went to the United Arab Emirates the day after his trip up to the Sierra de las Nieves. I wonder if anyone noticed the fresh aroma of pinsapo that must have still been hanging around his head during his meeting with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. And whether his supply of mountain air will last long enough to help him steer his wobbling coalition government through the next few weeks.

Sánchez said that good things were in store for the new National Park. Maybe next time I go I'll bump into him, this time incognito, unable to resist coming back to refill his lungs with that pinsapo-infused fresh air that works wonders.

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