An average day with surprises...
Well, it’s coming to the summer months, and Valverde, Perleta and the little hamlets surrounding us are gearing up for the summer visitors. Many more people at the shops and stores with Dutch, German, Scandinavian accents, let alone the English voices.
Even at the Saturday market in Santa Pola, there is a rejuvenated sense of camaderie and joie de vivre, vendors calling out their wares, joking, bargains to be had.
It’s too hot already. Reminiscences of similar feeling of the joy of living when we were in the flamenco country, Andalucia.
Andalucían fiestas that are overflowing with music and dance, silk shawls draped across their shoulders, women in colourful, striking dresses - flamenco dresses? We had seen it in parades every year in Alicante and up and down the coast of Spanish fiestas - strong proud women.
Flamenco festival, when it comes time for something special, Spain's top performers combines the vibrant energy of Spanish guitars, castanets and flamenco dancers. We've been through Jerez de la Fronterabefore and we were treated to flamenco guitars, the music at times were sad, even anguished, and incredibly moving. Back to the present at Santa Pola Saturday market, shades, awnings, covered walkways and sunglasses are a requirement; squinting at the fresh produce otherwise. And shoes! Now, in the middle of tourist season, there were many more shoe stalls; a sea of shoes, each trying to outbid the other.
All the latest of the open-toed sandals to tempt the ladies. High-heels or platforms. Or cute, little kitten-heel examples. Or mules? - a mule is a backless shoe with a closed toe. I had a ball just gazing at the incredible display of the variety of each stall’s bargains.
Men need not despair – trendy or casual, sports shoes or up-to-the-nines latest in designer wear… could they have fallen from the back of the van? I would hazard a guess… not, when you’ve got outlet after outlet, vying for business in a competitive arena, in the shoe capital of Elche, just down the road.
But, we’re here at the market to find a rose-bush. You’re never sure what delights which awaits you at the plant stalls. Sometimes they’re mediocre offerings, the same old stuff. However, there have been new plants, yucca, herbs and rose, in the selection in the last few times we’ve passed by on previous Saturdays. We’ve already been to a selection of supermarkets that have rose plants in the store. Much too small and costly. A selection of roses in the Chinese bric-a-brac stores next – much better, but not the colours I would want.
So, to the Saturday market in Santa Pola…. What can I get? Only red-dish roses, with or without fragrance. At a reasonable price. But, perhaps, there were too few to get a good choice. We tried 3 or 4 stalls. No luck. Well, now that we’re here, it seemed too good to pass up the chance of having a snack of churros – yummy, castor sugar, on our mouths and faces (like a hot donut, which the Spanish eat with sweet, hot chocolate or dunked into coffee; with castor sugar sprinkled.)
On our way home, I suddenly thought of the small garden centre close by. We’ve passed it on many occasions, but hadn’t been inside as yet. Pulled up close to it’s driveway, we were greeted by lavender plants, and herbs.
As we walked into the outside space of the garden centre, there were heaps of roses all down the side of the two or three aisle. Mmmm..mmmm – the fragrance was irresistible; the choice was large as well.
Deep-red almost burgundy, lighter red, pink, reddish-hue with yellow, orange, yellowish white… small white roses, big showy ones …I can tell that I going to be long time in choosing the right rose-bush for me!
It took a while but I finally decided on the 'one'. Murray also took a while to decide on stopping for a coffee after we bought the rose (it took him 2 nanoseconds).
The coffee is strong enough to power a small motorcycle for 13 miles; the cake very tasty and the almond chocolate a nice freebie bonus.
We spent an hour after late, late lunch planting the rose-bush in the front raised bed of our garden. Previously, we had grown roses in London, and they were beautiful – how would they survive in Spain? I would have thought it’d be too hot for roses… but who can tell?
I did notice that though there was a multitude of bougainvilleas everywhere, there were houses that have roses growing in their gardens.
Established ones – that possibly says it’s got to be ok. Also, in front of the new El Corte Ingles department store in Elche, a veritable garden of roses. Now to pick a spot, plant it, water it, and we’re up and going.
Out shopping for the rest of the day, we were famished by dinner time. That is, late dinner. More precisely, half past eleven at night, just before the pumpkin-turning hour. Who would be open to serve us a meal? Well, Inda Gardens, a restaurant in Valverde stays open after midnight (part of the establishment that run Indalecio Bar-Restaurant, next door).
We ordered just before midnight, fantastic. A mixed group in their very early twenties, the young and the beautiful occupied a long table across the other side, content with cocktails rather than late dinner. Smartly dressed guys; dressed-to-kill, trendy young girls, slim, with looks to die for.
Just after the clock struck midnight, another party of perhaps ten entered the restaurant. Slightly older, Mums and Dads, uncles and friends of the family, children. Children? At this time of night... is normal for Spain. Sitting on the opposite side of the big central fountain, to the young-and-the-beautiful, I noticed one of the guys was carrying a guitar case. An impromptu performance, I wonder… Hmmm?
By this time, our meal had arrived, with thanks: delaying to eat until later suddenly has a degree of immediacy and heightened taste expectation as soon as it comes into sight; everything tastes better when you're hungry... hence it was polished off with great gusto. Chatting over wine after the main course when an impromptu performance broke out. Wow! What a star – the guitarist was brilliant, he was playing the guitar and singing. And, he was accompanying the star performer, a little girl of perhaps, 5 or 6 years old, wearing a traditional red and white flamenco dress; actually dancing flamenco.
The party looked to be all family, related in some way, or great friends. And, this was more than a jam-session – perhaps it was a birthday, a get-together of old friends, and a sing-along warranted. Whatever the occasion, they looked like they were having fun. The cutie, had all the right moves, strutting, twists and turns, …ole! When she grows up, she’ll be formidable!
Everybody in the restaurant, knew the words by heart to the very popular music that the guitarist played, accompanied by palmas (rhythmic hand clapping used to accompany flamenco song and dance) and snapping of fingers. The young/beautiful crowd knew the lyrics and were singing to the tops of their voices. The young girls in that group urged the cutie on with cheers of encouragement, as if they were elder sisters! When the guitarist and his group left, it was about 1:30 a.m.
It was totally unexpected and a refreshing interlude to have witnessed. We looked at each other in wonderment - never have we been so entertained in such a long time. And this, down the road from our place– Viva Espana!