Jose Miguel García Fraile – one of our leaders in Spain
I’ve been a mountaineering guide and climbing instructor for the past 20 years. I was born and brought up in Alicante where I did 4 years of English Studies at the university. I’ve been climbing and exploring the mountains of our area since I was a teenager. At the age of 23 I moved from the city to the small village of Sella (560 people!) where we run part of our trips, and where I developed my interest in climbing, putting up many new routes and developing the climbing areas of this popular place. I went on to set up a tour company with my business partner, and for the past 10 years I’ve lead most of the Sierra Aitana treks for Exodus. The itinerary takes place literally in the background of my house!
I also work for local walking tourism development, by organising press trips and also way marking footpaths and sites of cultural interest for visitors. My business partner and I collaborate regularly with the university of Alicante on responsible and active tourism issues.
Away from the mountain scene, my personal hobbies include Latin jazz music; I particularly like Cuban music. I play conga drums in our local jazz band and with other Latin musicians in jam sessions.
I’m also involved in the social movement for the soberanía alimentaria (food sovereignty), which focuses on sustainable development and food security and encourages local food production. I am an activist member of the permanent committee of Alicante and also belong to the Valencian association for the protection of ‘local seeds’. True to the principles of food sovereignty, I grow my own organic vegetables and try to live in an environmentally sound way.
'Our local guide Jose Miguel was hardworking, charming and courteous with a profound knowledge of and passion for his home area. His magical rucksack produced homegrown olives and many treats for hungry walkers to supplement the plentiful packed lunches. The little extras were great too - the Spa and local museum in Castells, the rock climbing or shopping trip on the free day and the local Spanish band on the final night with Jose on the drums!'
'Jose Miguel was an outstanding leader. He worked so hard to ensure that everyone enjoyed the week and was a mine of information about the area, where he lives, and which he so obviously loves. His approach, enthusiasm and knowledge was key to the holiday being so enjoyable. There were lots of thoughtful touches to the holiday - Jose brought us oranges from his garden, invited us to his home for coffee and to see the renovation work that he had carried out, arranged a guided tour of a village olive pressing factory and went to a lot of trouble to ensure that we were all able to do different things on the free day.'