A walk along Levante Beach around the Old Town.
The hotel breakfast is top-form and sets me up for a sprint along the front to Balcó de la Mediterranean. I like this part of the town, it is touristy but retains its history. There’s always a street performer and this morning it’s a guitarist playing superb versions of Beatles numbers. You might consider it muzak and should be confined to lifts and hotel receptions but it’s fitting here in the sun looking out over the bay. The guitarist is good at his job and throws in a few Spanish riffs that add a bit of originality to the simple melodies and sometimes, experimental chords of the sixties.
The Old Town is busy but not unpleasant, there’s no drunkenness and the shops are busy. The ‘vibe’, as we old hippies would say, is good.
I’m walking to the town hall and beyond to a small wooded area where I’m protected from the sun but not the heat. It’s meant to be around 30 degrees and a little lower at the coast. As I move inland, even only a little way, I see temperature gauges showing 36 and 38 – a bit top-endish for me but others might like it.
The heat seems to have got to a little Spanish girl of about 2 or 3. Apparently, getting on a scooter from the left is catastrophic and having the scooter moved to her other side so that she can mount it from the left isn’t acceptable now and in between sobs, she’s considering her next action which is to throw herself to the ground and kick the scooter. In the misty haze of her anger though, she misses it with her foot and hits it with her shin and that sends her from interstellar fury to intergalactic rage. The grandmother goes into a feigned, “I don’t give a shit” mode and walks away but I notice (although it isn’t obvious) the child never left her line of sight. There are three or four minutes of deafening hysterics then she realises that the attention she sought isn’t forthcoming so she abruptly stops screaming, stands up, picks up the scooter, mounts it from the right and scoots up to her grandmother as if nothing has happened. Grandma smiles and offers her a tiny push….drama over!
It’s only now I realise that not only had I picked up the scene, I had also understood some of the Spanish. I’d picked up the general scene from some words that I’d spent many moons trying to learn with Duo. I didn’t know them all and they were at a child’s level but I’d understood. So, in a fit of foolhardy confidence, as I walked past ‘la abuela de la niña’ I said, “Buen trabajo” (good work) and smiled hoping that Spaniards use a similar idiom. She smiled back and said, “Hecho antes”, I knew antes could mean ‘before’ so I guessed at ‘Done it before’ but had to look it up on Google Translate as soon as I was out of eyesight. It may not be much, but it made my day.
As I walk into the hotel I’m called to the desk by Jackie, the receptionist who’d booked me in and she introduced me to Danny who walks the Sierra Gelada regularly and I expect he’s going to give me some advice but it’s not what I expect (or want). He advises me not to do the walk whilst we have this heat. “It will be dangerous and you will not enjoy it”, he added. I’m not happy about this as it was one of the major reasons for making this little excursion but I also think of the guys that have to be called out onto the North Yorkshire Moors when they’ve advised people against it. He also adds that he, himself wouldn’t do it in this heat and he is used to it. However, he does give me some suggestions for walks that are not as spectacular but at least have staging posts (cafes) for shelter from the sun and to get a drink. He tells me that it is easy to carry a drink but on the top, there is little to no shelter and I know that from last time so I don’t contradict him and reluctantly take the advice.
I’m a bit subdued as I walk down the strip but you can’t stay that way for long as I see a couple of youngsters experiencing their first time away without family (I’m assuming the last bit, I can remember my first days away although they were to Redcar Festival, Bamburgh, Seahouses or, a little later, beautiful very special memories of Cleethorpes at the folk festival).
The boys are just about to become the cabaret as a camera is turned on and he appears on the big screen to the sound of a cheer from an equally well-oiled but amicable group in the corner who turn out to be Belgians. He’s mounted now and smiles at the camera and the Belgians cheer again singing “God Save The Queen”. One of Belgians has a cowboy hat and offers it to our erstwhile rider who’s nervously trying to find something to hold on to. There isn’t much and the cowboys hat gets a bit scrunched in the tension of the moment.
Then it starts, very slow to start with then gently speeding up, they don’t want you to fall off too early or it’ll spoil the fun. The Belgians are at full volume now and the English boys have their arms around their shoulders singing the National Anthem again. This seems to spur (if you’ll pardon the pun) our English “Man with No Name” into gripping the bronco harder between his thighs. He manages about three minutes which is, apparently, quite good but the entertainment value is unquantifiable as more youngsters of both genders are in the bar now. All in good spirits and all with a message and a smile.
I go to the Nepalese Restaurant for one of their excellent thalis then, on the way back a young European girl grabs me as I walk past the bucking bronco bar. The youngsters are all having fun singing along with an Irish Band that’s just started their set. I’m not sure what nationality the young girl is but she’s friendly enough although it’s always a worry when a young girl puts her arm around a 72-year-old but at least she isn’t drunk.
She asks me if the boys are my family, she clearly saw me shouting encouragement to them earlier, “You English are alright” (I’m not sure why the UK is referred to as ‘you English’ but that seems to be the way). She continues, “The young ones will wait until you boomers die then we can get back our family when we can vote to rejoin”. she gives me another affectionate squeeze, kisses me in my hair and links arms with her girl-friend and they both start singing as she gives me a smiling wave. My initial reaction is hurt, but then I realise that she’s stating a fact not scoring a point and she delivers it with a lovely smile – I’m not hurt anymore…
I’d love to respond to her, then think of the irony…
Enjoy the snaps. Love G x