Tough decisions on Sunday. So many options, so few hours in the day! Finally the choice was made. Despite getting home from the opening night of Málaga’s Carnaval in the wee small hours, I decided I didn’t want to miss the mountain walk, so dragged myself grumbling from my cosy bed to pull on walking boots and make a sandwich for the midway break.
Carnaval is great. A city enjoying itself. Mad outfits, an appreciative audience, and thousands of people just wandering the streets, listening to the well-rehearsed groups of singers and their satirical songs. Oh and maybe the odd beer and tapas somewhere along the way. Saturday night, the launch had started late of course, and I got home at 2am. Not at all late by Spanish standards, but I’m still in training this early in the year and can’t manage the really late nights until summer comes and the nights are for doorstep-chatting on rickety chairs.
I love it that Málaga is so close, just a spit away. Half an hour from my door to where I park and walk a couple of moments to the centre. It was part of the attraction, part of why I chose Colmenar, though back then (it feels longer than the 19 months that it is) I didn’t realise how much Málaga would come to mean to me. The balance is perfect – the city is close enough to visit 3 or 4 times a week, to enjoy the galleries, the shops, the bars, the port, the beaches, and all that this great city has to offer. Yet at the same time, my heart lifts as I turn off the autovía and head over the rolling hills of the Axarquía to my pueblo.
Also within spitting distance are endless opportunities for hill-walking. Our group goes out only every three weeks for a long walk, so despite the late night at Carnaval I didn’t want to skip the ramble. A cream cheese and chorizo sandwich was shoved into the backpack along with some water, and I headed up to Púlgarin, above Periana, where the walk began. We parked by an ancient olive tree – purported to be 2,000 years old. Amazing to think that the Romans made oil from that same tree. A steep climb at the start wore out a couple of the group who elected to await our return on a convenient rock overlooking the lake and the distant sea. The rest of us strode on and were rewarded with sun on our faces, and a sandwich break under the dappled shade of some vines outside a semi-deserted cortijo.
As always, a beer or a coffee at the bar nearest to the cars, then I headed home to shower, change, and drive back into Málaga. I needed a second visit to a controversial exhibition at CAC (el Centro de Arte Contemporaneo), which had left me with mixed feelings the day before. Some brilliant, hard-hitting cartoons with satirical commentary had captivated me, but having to translate each one had been exhausting, and a return visit was necessary to view the rest. In the back room, disturbing images of nude women in shockingly discomfiting situations (the exhibition was entitled Mujeres y Paredes, or “Women and Walls”), merited a second look to see if more sense could be made of them. Again, so close, these marvellous opportunities to enjoy beautiful art, and be challenged by uncomfortable art. Free, and all just a spit away.
Coffee and cake at a favourite café, then we joined the throngs awaiting the main Carnaval procession. Families, youngsters, everyone lined the sunny streets to admire the costumes and the singing. We bumped into friends, kissed and moved on. Then into the back-streets for some fishy tapas. All in spitting distance.
But there are not enough hours, even with an early start and a late finish. The one excitement that I could not fit in on Sunday was to pop over to the neighbouring village of Riogordo, where their Olive Festival included an olive-stone spitting contest. I was disappointed to miss it – it was only a spit away.
© Tamara Essex 2014
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
Last month I mentioned a friend who had accidentally ordered a joint of marijuana in a tapas bar by asking for “porro” instead of “porra” (“A Morsel of Bacon”). And many a woman has been embarrassed in the butcher’s by asking for “polla” instead of “pollo” when she honestly did just want chicken (one local woman who thought she had asked the butcher if he had a really BIG chicken for six people to eat hasn’t been back into that shop since …).
Wrongly imagining myself above such silly errors I reduced the painter and his son to giggles last week. I had been away overnight when they had finished painting my doors and windows and putting up new mosquito screens upstairs and downstairs, so they returned the following week to be paid and to check everything was satisfactory. “Si, ésta bien. Solo faltan los tres mosqueteros.” Pepe’s son dropped a biro and hid his giggles as he pretended to search for it. Pepe smothered his grin and looked quizzically at me. I had just said “Yes it’s all fine, we’re just missing the Three Musketeers!”
Pah. Mosqueteros / Mosquiteras. Near enough, you’d think! Sigh. These wretched noun endings! Anyway, I clarified that I did not expect Athos, Porthos and Aramis to jump through the open windows, but that I would like the three downstairs net screens replaced to prevent ingress by musketeers AND mosquitos. Las tres mosquiteras. So Pepe will pop back next week with those. I wonder if he’ll come dressed as D’Artagnan?