Los domingos. Días de descanso. Sundays. Days of rest.
Sundays more than any other day mark the changing of the seasons. For the last few months Sundays have been marked by early-morning shouting in the street as impossibly-large families cram into too-small cars, ferrying dishes of pre-cooked food, bags of meat for barbecuing, and crates of beer into the groaning boot of the car. Heading off for “a day in the campo” to relax, chat and laugh with cousins and grandchildren and sisters-in-law and to make full use of the day of rest.
Then suddenly last week the weather changed dramatically. Summer, which had continued well into November, suddenly packed its bags and departed without warning. One day we were sitting at a beach café overly-warm in a light long-sleeved t-shirt, the next day I was pulling the electric blanket and the woolly jumpers from the under-bed storage box and closing the kitchen window firmly till next spring.
Los domingos. Días de descanso. Now Sundays in my little street mean that my neighbour’s son, Jose Antonio, works on the rally car in the garage opposite, tapping out last season’s dents and lovingly repainting the sponsors’ logos on the sides. The little girls two houses up the slope are quieter now, indoors much more, emerging to play in the street for just 20 minutes rather than late into the night. The other women and I chat only briefly in the mornings, complaining about the cold, and in thick slippers and dressing gowns. The morning trip to the bakery is now a sprint rather than the leisurely sun-drenched stroll.
Los domingos. Días de descanso. The lightweight walking boots are pulled out from under the rubbish that accumulates in the glory-hole beside the front door, and the sandals are put away regretfully. Sandwiches made, and it’s a short drive to the meeting-point for the walking group. We are lucky and the sunshine warms us throughout the morning as we follow tracks on different soil this side of the mountains – it’s clay here, which later in the season after heavier rain would be impossible to walk on. Glimpses of the sea 30 kilometres distant, remnants of a roman road (but leading where?), a rest-stop on a rocky outcrop, then the circular route takes us back down and we end up at Bar Ortega for coffee. As we wind down, the tables around us fill up with large family groups, still spending Sunday lunch together sharing food and companionship but using these bars, quiet during the week, but bursting into life and efficiently producing enormous plates of food for 60 people every winter Sunday. Afternoon coffee with friends moves from beachside cafes to warmer indoor settings.
Los domingos. Días de descanso. Sundays. Days of rest. Back home after the long walk. Heat up the Jacuzzi for later on. Put on the wall-heater in the snug room. A bit of Spanish homework. A bowl of a rather good paella from the shop in the village that sells home-cooked food (too good to be labelled a “takeaway”) in front of the telly – a mixture on Sundays of English telly then Spanish – “Salvados” is my favourite programme of the week, an often hard-hitting investigative programme addressing the issues that really affect people. Jordi Évole speaks clearly but fast, and his interviewees not always so clearly. I use it as a test for how my listening and comprehension are improving. Not enough, and I still miss too much of it but usually manage to enjoy both the content and the learning process.
Los domingos. Días de descanso. A different rhythm now. The days of doorstep chats till 2am are long gone. The street shuts down early now, we all retreat inside our own walls, trying to keep warm. Next door my neighbours are huddled round the brasero, that seemingly-dangerous fire under the table, their legs tucked under the thick cloth that extends to the floor on all sides. My own snug room is cosy from the electric heater. The electricity bill will be a shock but that’s to come. For now, keeping warm is all that matters.
Early nights now, on Sundays. Days of rest. The winter duvet and the electric blanket enclose me for the night. Summer will be back …. eventually.
© Tamara Essex 2013
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT
I learned two lovely phrases recently.
“Estaba en una nube” – I was in a cloud, meaning I was in awe of somebody or something, or just floating in a general cloud of delight.
“Se me pasó el tiempo volando” – the time flew by.
Good phrases for me, as they pretty much define how things are going!
The difference with Spanish winters is that you still get the days when it reminds you summer still exists, a few hours of warm sun to sit in, walk in and enjoy. Here in the UK once winter sets in it’s here for the duration. I enjoyed Spanish winters but the summers were unbearable for me.
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