Pit-Stopping Politically Incorrectly in Despeñaperros, Spain
When your straight-as-an-arrow roadtrip through Spain's dusty, high-altitude central plateau ends abruptly in a rumple of mountains and canyons, it becomes clear why the transition from the center of Spain to the south has always been a difficult one. From the outside looking in, the country's transition from fascism to a modern democracy may seem to have been a comparatively relatively easy ride... until you happen upon a place like Casa Pepe. This roadside bar teeters on the Puerto de Despeñaperros, the mountain pass between La Mancha and Andalusia best known for the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, a key victory for the Christian reconquista, the beginning of the end for Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula. Regardless of your political or religious affiliation, a stop here now is almost inevitable. There's nowhere else to pull off along this remote and scenic white-knuckle stretch of highway. What to expect: a bizarre, in-your-face shrine to el Generalísmo Francisco Franco and Spanish nationalism, a ceiling covered in antlers, a cornucopia of delicious local pork products, and a growing appreciation for the plentiful potholes on the road to Spanish democracy.