My story begins 10 years ago, when I had my first experience with Geotourism. I worked as an Engineering Geologist in a multinational firm then, but the economic crisis in Spain had hit hard and I was facing redundancy. The forced career break gave me an opportunity: to think about alternative career paths and life choices. One such alternative was to try to live and work in the Anglo-Saxon world, which I had always wanted.
Whilst preparing for my new adventure in the UK, a friend (with who I had already done environmental volunteering with in the past and who knew that I loved to connect with people), proposed the idea of designing a geological route in Seville. This involved guiding people without a geological background and suggested the idea of a different way of seeing nature.
And so, I did.
I designed the route around a small town near Seville, Alcalá de Guadaira. I created a fascinating experience where I combined geology with cultural and industrial heritages and foodie insight, in a great urban environment along a river.
To be honest, I fell in love with the process of constructing the tours and with the public reception when I carried out the tours. I loved connecting with people and encouraging people to connect with nature with an open-minded and relaxed attitude. Reconnecting with simple concepts was an epiphany for me.
A new chapter and challenges
After that, I moved to the UK and restarted my career again as Engineering Geologist, starting from scratch due to language barriers. The Georoutes project was shelved, but not forgotten.
In 2019, I set up my first 'Cimmeria' franchise in the UK, relating to Engineering Geology and focused on Civil Engineering and renewable energy. I came back to thinking about starting the geotours, so that I could allocate more time to creating something on my own and maybe begin a ‘side hustle’.
Little by little, I started researching how I would like to develop my georoutes, giving a personal touch, but always with geology at its core (pardon the pun) and its relationship with different disciplines. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to participate in Geoconservation congresses and talks on Geotourism, and I rediscovered (after my university years) the Geopark project of Granada, the fabulous 'Andalusian Grand Canyon' just 45 minutes from the city of Granada. I focused on that incredible place, so close to my hometown, Jaén!
When the Covid pandemic arrived, with its widespread disruption and a lot of time for reflection and making cakes, etc., I realized, like many people, the deprivation of some of our main psychological needs that are often invisible or taken for granted. Such as access to community and human connection, free movement, and, above all, the meaning in our lives and brains when we access nature.
A year after the pandemic began, I set up Cimmeria Geotours on December 20 to try to cover those needs, using the incredible ‘Grand Canyon’ of Granada as a base. And at the same time, good news: the territory was officially declared a UNESCO Geopark!
New concepts in my life
I was excited by the idea of building a sense of community and human connection, forging links with local community projects and businesses, goals which had started timidly before. Especially between local communities and my potential clients, fostering interaction between locals and visitors who wish to know another culture. I wanted to bring my vision to life, thanks to Ethnogeology, where we examine the source and ground where things have been made or nurtured. I wanted to focus on the ancestral use of geological knowledge to make, grow, or build things through time, and therefore forge links to local community projects and businesses, such as making stone tools, planting a vineyard, or building a cave-dwelling.
That free movement, so needed in the pandemic, would be reflected in my tourism project, with small groups where the tour is more flexible and open to new experiences.
Finally, during the pandemic I came across a concept around the meaningfulness of being in nature: Timefulness (not the more well-known and trendy Mindfulness). The concept rests on the mindfulness of the earth, instead of the human individual, with the recognition and understanding of Earth-awareness, using the vastness of geological time as its vehicle.
My ethos is that this metaphorical travel between the geological past and present considers how the geology of an area acts as an intimate archive of how our planet has evolved and connects with my passion for promoting and inspiring tourists in ways that foster sustainability and raise awareness of issues such as Climate Change. The hidden gem of the Granada Geopark will afford me a unique, outdoor, and natural laboratory for this purpose, with the healthful benefits of walking and interacting with the living world.