country there was basically the sea bed. It’s almost as if when you drive out of Tabernas on the road south, suddenly you’re in Apache country. Directors had begun to use the desert for locations in the 1950s. Within ten years, segments of Laurence of Arabia, El Cid, Cleopatra and The Magnificent Seven, among a lengthy catalogue of foreign films, had been shot there. None, perhaps would make Almeria as famous as Leone’s Fistful of Dollars, and For a Few Dollars More.
But that’s movies. If you’re a writer, more specifically, a Western writer, Almeria can be a great inspiration. Before you begin, without touching pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the scene is set as soon as the sun comes up. The chill of the desert is banished as the shadows linger after the darkness, growing long then being squeezed short before scuttling at high noon to hide under the boardwalk until late afternoon.
Out there - better if you’re alone and it’s early - gritty sand crunching beneath your heels, you tilt your head back and shade your eyes and it is all there in front of you. The scenery of a thousand Westerns. That parched land, sharp in the clear desert air but in the distance the growing day is firing up a dancing heat haze,
distorting the scrub and blurring the
horizon where the cholla dotted
mountains rear in a ragged line
up into the faded blue sky. You
walk onto one of those film sets