The night we were parked up in Capileira – the little village high up in the Alpujarras – I had a powerful dream in which a buddhist monk gave me a blessing, using a thing I had never seen before (when I googled it later, I learned that it was a hand-held prayer wheel). We had knocked on his door, and when he opened it, he looked quite wild and angry at having been disturbed. But this didn’t stop him from giving me a blessing. He stood at about 3 metres distance from me, holding the thing in such a way that it was deflecting divine energy from the sky directly onto me. I felt it shooting into my solar plexus with a strong, flame-like quality. Upon waking, I could still feel the energy and felt that it was coming from the direction of the hill across the valley – which houses one of the oldest Spanish Buddhist communities.

Some days later, we drive up a 7km steep and narrow dirt road, to visit the Buddhist centre, to find out if anything there relates to my dream… (we don’t recommend drivers of large vehicles to do the same! There were some very tricky moments where the road dipped and immediately rose back up, in such a way that it was hard not to scrape the spare tyre). This is a place of outstanding beauty! The views are incredible – down the valley you can see Orgiva and across the hills you can see the sea.

That night, we feel a strong current of energy flowing through our van, through us and down the hill.

The following day, we go out to explore.

There is a great sense of peace here. The community has designed a walk past a number of statues and Stupas. At the start of the walk, there is a big prayer wheel. It says that it has been loaded with 165 Billion Million mantras, and that just turning the wheel once is more effective than several years of retreat. It begs the question why anyone would ever go on a retreat then – simply turn the wheel every couple of years instead! 😉

We are happy to soak up every blessing available, so we both turn the wheel on our way up and again, for good measure, on our way down. Nearby there is a series of little wheels too, also embossed with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hung, which we spin. Further up the hill we walk clockwise around the big Stupa and lie down in front of it, as this too is supposed to bring good energy into you. It is beautiful to lie on the warm flagstones and hear the cicadas and see the prayer flags wafting in the flowering tree.

The walk culminates high up on an open plain with a statue of Tara, a female boddhisatva, who is placed on a lotus flower plinth in the middle of a pond. It is a gorgeous statue, and the serenity and power emanating from her is palpable.


We go even further up, to the top of the hill, from where we have a fantastic view onto the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada and down into the valley of the three pueblos Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileira. The location of Tara more or less fits the direction from where I had felt the energy coming from in my dream some days before. But it was definitely a male monk who had given me the blessing.

On our way back down, we go a little bit further into the community. Some areas are out of bounds, to allow those on retreat to remain private, but we meet the cook of the centre, who is resting and reading in the shade of an old oak tree. The cook is the first man we meet up here, and unbelievably he looked just like the monk of my dreams. He has exactly the same face, although this time he is very sweet and gentle and smiling. I’m speechless to be meeting someone who I have never met before except in my dream three days previously. Frank, unawares of my realisation but aware that I am somewhat quieter than normal, strikes up a pleasant conversation with the cook and they chat about food and the area for about half an hour, and we offer him a jar of Frank’s recent batch of lemon marmalade, before returning to Emma.

Just when we are ready to tackle the steep descent, Anne, the Norwegian director of the centre, comes up in her 4×4 with food for the week and a couple of visitors in the back. We have a chance to tell her how much we have appreciated the beauty and the peace of the place.


For more photos of this chapter, go to flikr

Here is a link for the Buddhist Centre’s web page: 



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