“Un Sendero Nocturno”. A night-time walk. It had sounded beautiful. A relaxed stroll in the moonlight, chatting with 30 friends and neighbours. Starting from the next village, Casabermeja, and wandering gently up to Torre Zambra, an old Moorish lookout point and beacon, under the bright light of the October full moon, to be followed by a meal in a bar. Lovely.
The meeting-point was the village health centre, to offer lifts and share cars to Casabermeja. Bang on time (unusually for Spain) walkers began to gather. They were young. Oh, so young. Most appeared to be between 15 and 18. They were fit. The village gymnastic team had turned out in force. And they were teeny. Oh, so so teeny. In tight black leggings and teeny teeny t-shirts with lots of firm midriff on display. I felt like the elephant in the room – literally.
A few more adults turned up, all significantly younger, fitter and slimmer than me. Balta from the ayuntamiento counted us up, made sure everyone had a car to go in, and we sped off to Casabermeja. There we met the guide, Alfonso, and the walk began.
I say “walk” – but this was a sprint. The “walk” from Casabermeja centre to Torre Zambra consisted of six kilometres uphill, then the return. The teeny fit gymnasts did not appear to take a breath, nor to pause. They shot off round the first bend and I quickly realised that I was going to be right at the back, at risk of losing sight of the group, if I didn’t put a spurt on.
Somewhere deep inside I found a combination of determination, experience, and bloody-minded competitiveness, and my stride quickened. Despite their extreme fitness (and did I mention their teeniness?) I knew for sure that I had thousands more hill-walking miles under my belt than they did, and that I also had the stamina that comes with age and long day-walks.
Slowly I passed the other adults, and began to close in on the leading group of teenies. Within the first kilometre I was comfortably striding along with the leaders, Alfonso calling to us to slow down a bit to wait for the middle and rear groups.
So then it was time to tackle the second problem of this excursion. I was the only British participant, and was surrounded not by the Spanish language of my CDs or my Spanish teachers, and not by the chat of my neighbours which, although lacking consonants, is marginally slower and over time has become mostly comprehensible. No – the teenies were speaking even faster than they were walking, and were using (I suppose) all the short forms, slang and colloquialisms that any group of teenagers would. They were almost entirely incomprehensible. Looking back, I spotted a group of non-teenies just behind. I dropped back a few paces to mix in with them, and (como siempre) turned the rest of this ordeal – oops, sorry, I mean “walk” – into an opportunity to listen and chat.
The moon was yet to appear and we almost missed the last turn onto the path to the summit. One of my companions had run (!) the route before and despite the darkness we found the track and began the final ascent. Suddenly the tower appeared above us, close, shrouded in mist, and highly atmospheric. As we reached it the skies cleared and the full moon lit us as we climbed the spiral staircase onto the ramparts.
Time for a group photo then we began to descend. Just for fun a particularly steep short-cut was added which strained the knees (and even slowed down some of the teenies). There was slightly too much talk of snakes for my liking, and an outburst of screaming from the leading group of teenies sent my heart into my mouth for a moment. Something slithered away quickly, more frightened of us than vice versa.
Back in Casabermeja we trooped into La Romana where the tables were already groaning with jugs of beer, bottles of wine, lemonade, water, olives and crisps. The meal that followed was delicious but sitting down for an hour after 12 kilometres at top speed was disastrous. My car-load stood up to leave, and everything screamed – every single muscle screamed and so did we. We hobbled painfully outside, feeling truly ancient, leaving the teenies presumably ready to head on to dance the night away in a club. A great walk, one I would definitely repeat, but next time the “walk” really WILL be a walk.
© Tamara Essex 2014 http://www.twocampos.com
THIS WEEK’S LANGUAGE POINT:
Right, so last week I learned how to describe what I could see in the different areas of a photo. During the week I have singularly failed to put this useful new skill into practice.
This week’s task is to go on to describe what I think the people in the photo might be doing. Inevitably the photo will leave this slightly unclear, so we get to use all those phrases about uncertainty. And what does uncertainty trigger? Yes, the good old subjunctive (no groaning, please).
Firstly I will be expected to mention a few things about which I have a reasonable degree of certainty, which do NOT use the subjunctive.
To differentiate, I always call to mind JuanMi’s brilliant lesson in which he jumped to the right-hand corner of the classroom (la esquina derecha) to say we definitely think something IS so, then to the left-hand corner (la esquina izquierda) if we think it definitely ISN’T so, and then hovered in the middle (en el centro) for when we aren’t sure enough to bet a euro on it. That’s where the subjunctive is.
(I wrote up JuanMi’s lesson in “A Bad Case of Subjunctivitis”)
So I have to start with:
A mi me parece que estan hablando – It seems to me they are talking (reasonable certainty).
Probablemente ella le esta mostrando algo – Probably she is showing him something (reasonable certainty).
Then I have to start guessing at the detail:
Puede que esten hablando sobre un email – It could be that they are talking about an email (subjunctive).
Quizás hayan recibido una foto graciosa – Perhaps they have received a funny photo (subjunctive).