Human activity in the Genal Valley
The Genal Valley is represented by 15 towns and villages: Algatocín, Alpandeire, Atajate, Benadalid, Benalauría, Benarrabá, Cartaima, Casares, Faraján, Gaucín, Genalguacil, Igualeja, Jubrique, Júzcar, Parauta y, Pujerra.
The presence of man in the area goes back thousands of years, when the Phoenicians exploited the rich mineral resources (gold and iron), remains of which can be seen today in the local mines.
A curious, though less illustrious “industry”, was that of banditry in the 19th century: several locals in the area became infamous for their deeds, in a poverty stricken area that was difficult to search. For this same reason, 20th century opposition to Francisco Franco considered the Genal Valley as a safe haven, and members of the underground movement remained amazingly enough uncaptured until 1949, eleven years after General Franco had come into power!
Regarding more licit “careers”, the richness in forestry resources has made it the economic mainstay of the Genal Valley. The difficulty of the terrain meant that wheeled vehicles were not introduced until well into the 19th century, thus meaning that there cart tracks did not exist previously, and all transport, whether of humans or goods, was carried out by mules on narrow paths. This was called “arriería”, and there was a series of professions linked to transportation, including that of loader! The products carried on mule back for sale on the coast or in Ronda were charcoal, cork (from cork oak trees), wood, coarse grass (for weaving), olive oil, almonds, wine (from pre-phylloxera vineyards), chestnuts, lime (for whitewashing) etc. The return journey was for transporting fish or salt from the coast, or basic food products from Ronda.
Nowadays, whereas agriculture remains an important activity for the Genal Valley, it is now complemented by low level ecological tourism.