When things go wrong …
I don’t get to go on holiday so much these days, for various reasons. My last holiday was over 2 years ago. Due to health challenges, it can be physically difficult, not to mention the budgetary requirements. So when I received some offers to visit friends and family in Spain, I appreciated and gratefully accepted the invitations.
I hired a car. For the amount I travel these days, buses and taxis as I needed them would probably have been more cost-effective, and the buses in Spain are very reliable, comfortable and inexpensive, although the bus-stops can be a fair distance to walk to. So I figured the convenience of having a car at my disposal, even for short journeys to the shops and the beach, as I can’t walk very far without pain, would make my holiday more pleasant as I would be less likely to overdo things and end up wasting a week or more of my 3-week holiday in bed in pain.
The first week of my holiday was in Torrox. It was lovely to spend time with my cousin, who had moved out to Spain about 8 years ago, shortly after I had taken her there on holiday. The weather was bright and sunny, but quite windy, which made it too chilly for sun-bathing. In bed at night, I could hear the Mediterranean ocean lapping against the shore, so soothing.
Then I moved on to Almunecar, where I stayed with my Swedish friend, Marianne, who I had met about 6 years ago whilst visiting a friend who was care-taking the villa next door to her and her husband Luis. We had got along so well, we remained friends and kept in touch, despite the generation gap. Marianne is 70 years of age, however you would not think it to see how she looks after her fruit garden and walks down her big hill into town to shop almost every day. This was my 3rd visit to Marianne since our first meeting, and the first time Luis would be absent. Sadly, Luis had passed away in December. Luis was Spanish. His wonderful flamenco guitar-playing and singing was sadly missed.
Luis had often talked about his favourite restaurant, El Capricho, in the village of Otivar, where they make a dish called Pollo a la Manzana (chicken cooked with apple), which he described as ‘the best chicken in the world’. Although Otivar is not far from Almunecar, it is inland along some hilly, winding tracks, and the buses to and from there are few and far between, so a visit by car would be easier. I didn’t get the chance to go there while Luis was alive, as he and Marianne do not own a car in Spain, so I felt it would be a fitting tribute to take Marianne there on this visit.
I asked Marianne if she could call to make a reservation, as was recommended on their website. I felt my Spanish language skills were a bit rusty. She said there was no need: a reservation is only necessary for large parties. When we got there, however, the Spanish waiter told Marianne we needed to make a reservation in advance to order the chicken, they had no extras available. I gave Marianne a mischievous smile, but before we had chance to be disappointed, a lady came out from the kitchen and told the waiter that the party of 27 coming in had just called to cancel one place. Haha this was so funny: whether it was my intention that I was going to have that chicken, or Marianne’s assurance that we didn’t need to order it, either way by the Law of Attraction (or perhaps with the divine help of Angel Luis) we did get our chicken. As there was only one portion we had to share it, however that was plenty for the two of us; Marianne said that when they had a portion each, they would take half home in a doggy-bag. Indeed it was the juiciest, most succulent, tasty chicken I ever had. We raised a toast to Luis and followed the chicken with Creme Caramel and a cafe con leche. Bless you Luis!
Marianne took me to some of the best tapas bars in Almunecar. Tapas vary from place to place. In Nerja, for example, you usually need to sit at the bar with your drink and you choose which tapa you would like from the tapas cabinet along the bar. In Almunecar, however, you can even sit outside with your drink and they bring a tapa to you automatically, for free, without your asking. You never know what you will get, it could be anything from a dish of deep-fried baby octopus to a ham and cheese toasted sandwich or mini cheeseburger. I have rarely been disappointed with the quality of tapas. I have wondered how the Spanish make enough profits to survive when they provide you with a glass of wine or beer and some delicious food for less than 2 euros; I am certain it is their innate generosity that ensures they always have enough.
As we sat at a tapas bar on the beach, I glanced down towards my feet (actually I think I was trying to shelter my phone underneath the table so I could see the screen to use the camera), and I spotted a little stone shaped like a heart. Two of my favourite things are to look for hearts every day, and also to look for pretty little beach pebbles to bring back from Spain (I have quite a collection now). I consider hearts to be my little messages from the angels saying ‘We’re with you, we love you, you’re OK’.
Then on my fifth and final evening at Marianne’s she went to a dish of pebbles in her conservatory and pulled out a purple ceramic heart and gave it to me, to end a lovely visit.
The following day I moved onto the next, and supposed to be final, leg of my visit to Spain. This was where things went drastically awry. After a somewhat pleasant day, suddenly, in the evening, without warning, one of my hosts (I don’t feel any identification is appropriate or necessary here) began verbally attacking me over something so trivial: my attempt to get the wifi working on my little netbook appeared to be affecting the TV reception. I shut down my computer, but in the minute it took for it to shut down their irritation had escalated into a rage. My attempt to defuse the matter by saying I couldn’t shut it down any quicker and was this really any reason to get so angry, did not work and they said they didn’t want me there anyway. At which point I did the human thing and became upset and angry myself and began arguing back. Not that I wanted to stay – I don’t want to stay anywhere I don’t feel comfortable or welcome, but to try to understand why this argument was even happening. Realising this was not going to change or fix the situation – some people’s behaviour can not be understood, especially in the heat of the moment – I headed off to pack my bags.
His verbal onslaught was not a short-lived one. He continued to scream at me. In the 30 minutes or so it took me to pack, due to my shaking with shock and anger, and not able to close my case for some time without bouncing on it, I could hear him screaming at his partner, who was trying to defend me and telling him how unreasonable he was being. His answer to her was “If you don’t like it, you can get out too (although in much stronger language)”. When I came back down the stairs, he screamed at me again until I was out the door.
I loaded my suitcase into my car, and sat in the driver’s seat. At this point, I was struck with the shock of it all. I was in a foreign country, I didn’t know anywhere or anyone else in this town, I spoke little of the language, and it was after 11pm. The worst shock of all was that someone I liked and trusted had let me down like this. My body was immobilised for some time apart from the tears falling down my face …
What was I going to do now?