San José from the cliffs looks like a time-share prospectus pasted upon the surface of Mars; the ranks of white houses, resplendent marina and palm-lined promenade are incongruous in this kiln of sun-scorched hills. Where the track ought to be is a descent over rocky outcrops between the new villas. Mostly deserted, their owners' provenance is uncertain, though some do have garden gnomes.
Beach-level, San José is a northern European's Spanish fantasy come true. It looks fresh; the original fishing village - official population still 175 - is somewhere under the cement. It has, we admit, a certain unreal charm - a sanitised south where you might safely bring children - but whatever is it doing in a desert natural park? At a promenade café, people stare at our backpacks as if we are aliens.
I knew there was a reason why I bought and read the first volume of JG Ballard's collected short stories on this trip, all those bleached and deserted villas! Though we didn't go into San José at all....but we didn't see any illegal immigrants