With a population of just over a hundred, Cartajima is a fraction of the town it was a hundred years ago when there were about 1000 residents. Young people leave now for lucrative jobs in tourism or construction on the Costa del Sol and return only for festivals when the population swells to probably 300.
There used to be several bars and shops but just two bars and a couple of little shops remain.
In the square below the hotel on the left of the yellow postbox, is an “estanco” run by Marie Carmen whose husband, Juan, is the clerk in the Town Hall, the large building opposite the church. Maria Carmen sells candy and tobacco and bits of stationery and stamps.
Next door (the house with the postbox) is Catalina's. She is the mother of Juan the postman and you will never meet a friendlier person. She loves having visits and welcomes visitors warmly. If you need to post something, push the door open and ask Catalina or her daughter Joaquina. Juan the Post lives in Ronda buts comes every morning to distribute the mail.
Descend the steep road on the right of the postbox, turn left at the bottom and you will find a little shop. Until recently it was a bakery with a wood-fired oven but it became too much for the elderly couple running it and the son did not want to take it on. They close for siesta from about 2 – 6 and are open in the evenings. They welcome visitors. This is run by Juan the Town Hall’s parents.
On Calle Ancha – the wide street lined with orange trees with the school at the end – about half way down on the right hand side is a “cien pesetas” or “veinte duros” (the equivalent of one hundred pesetas). These cheap stores are to be found in every Spanish town and village and they sell a remarkable array of just about everything. If they don’t have what you want, they will go to Ronda to get it for you!
And that’s it for commercial enterprises apart from the two bars of which more on another occasion - except for the famous Hotel Los Castaños of course! Not one of the businesses mentioned above has a sign outside so you have to push doors open and ask.
As for sightseeing, the church is our only monument. The original foundation was built in 1505 shortly after the “reconquest” of this area from the Islamic people who lived here since 711. It is uncertain whether there was ever a mosque here or not but the church would certainly have been built on top of it. Severe damage was inflicted on the church during the Civil War and it was rebuilt in the 1950’s and restored in 2009. If you would like to see inside and it is locked, just ask me and I can take you to get the key from Asunción who looks after the church.
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