Mrs. Sanchez and I are still not in Álora.
This is the first time in 14 years that we have seen Springtime in Birmingham and what a treat it has been. Daffodils, tulips, crucuses, primulas and forget-me-nots are some of the garden flowers that we have missed for so many years. Our enforced stay has had its compensations, or as a Spaniard with a working knowledge of obscure national proverbs might say, 'No hay mal que por bien no venga'. (Every cloud has a silver lining). But what have we been missing in Álora? Well, Semana Santa (Holy Week) for a start, and La Ruta de Tapas (The Tapas Trail), the opening of the Caminito del Rey and, after a wait of many years, the opening of Álora's new indoor heated swimming pool to boot. More about that later.
Every silver lining has a cloud, though. Our neighbours in Álora, Harry and Wilma warned us that the garden was overgrown with weeds. Cats had taken over our 'bodeguita' (summer house) and squatters were about to move in. To cap it all, our postal votes for 'the most important British General Election ever'. were waiting for us 2492 km.or 1548miles away (not counting the distance across the English Channel) in Álora. There was nothing for it but for one of us to make a flying visit to sort matters out.
So I bought a couple of cheap flights for my pal Colin and me and off we went. Someone had to do it!
The squatters were evicted and the garden sorted in a couple of days so we were left with a couple of days to relax and catch up with life in Álora (la bien cercada).
The finished product.
All the bars are still in business and there's a new 'Italian restaurant', La Casa del Abuelo, next door to the heladería.(Ice cream shop) which appears to be the Italian branch of La Casa del Abuelo at Bar Bernabe on Calle Veracruz They do a nice pizza (which must please Pizzaría Peli across the street no end), but apart from some macaroni/spaghetti items the locals have nothing to fear. You can still get the usual Álora favourites there. Monday is still a difficult night to find anywhere to eat here. La Plaza de la Fuente Arriba was almost deserted by 8.00 pm and Casa Abilio shuts on Mondays.
There was no sign of our neighbour Isabel or Ana who makes sure the plants are watered when Harry and Wilma aren't there. They have moved to Alhaurín El Grande and I bet they forgot to tell our new Norwegian neighbours that they have no drains and not to put paper or anything solid down the bog. The last time that happened we had a disastrous back flow and had to replace the bathroom. My campaign to have a proper sewage system installed led to the Alcalde (mayor) avoiding me, so I gave up. He still avoids me so it might have been for some other reason.
The next day was bright and sunny so we asked Manolo to put a table in the shade for us outside Cafe Bar Madrugón from where we could watch the good folk of Álora pass by and exchange the odd greeting or pleasantry. Manolo was happy to oblige and growled a few comments which I did not understand- my Spanish is a bit rusty after being away for 5 months. We ordered 'dos mitad doble' (two coffees with milk). That should probably be 'dos mitades dobles' we don't use a terminal 's' much here. If anyone knows how to write the plural of 's', and I'm sure Alan J does, keep it to yourself.
If there is a better place to be in the world than the top square on a busy sunny morning I don't know of it.
After a caña and jamón with Candelaria in Bar Azahar and an obligatory visit to the ferretería to buy 4 cancamos cerrados (vine hooks) (no sign of the beautiful Minti) we drove our overpriced Goldcar hire car to Casarabonela (try saying that after a few cañas) to see how the olives had survived the winter. Watch out for Goldcar. They are the cheapest company but we ended up paying 20 quid for the car for five days and 87€ for the insurance!
The olives are in fine fettle. Pruned and bursting into flower. There must have been a fair bit of rain this year as the rescued orange bushes and the almonds are doing well too. After last year's slim pickings we may be in for a good crop.
Olives in flower
We missed La Ruta de Tapas this year. Most of the bars participate. They all have a special tapa and compete for a prize. The winning entry this year was created by Casa Abilio which came up with 'Lingote de queso de cabra y foie con mermelada de mango.' (a gold ingot of goat's cheese and foie gras with a mango preserve). If you get down there sharpish (it's behind Vera Cruz church) they may have some left. It's delicious and beautifully presented. Not a typical tapa by any means but stunning. (2€ a go).
The customers on la ruta can win prizes by eating and drinking in as many different bars as possible without falling over but nobody has been disqualified for this. It's great fun and by looking at some of the regular Fuente Arriba boulevardiers quite a bit of falling went on. Paco Manyonyo (probably not how it it's spelt, if it ever is as it's not his real name) had a colourful collection of scabs across his forehead and a few more Perotes than usual were on crutches or using sticks. The tiled floors and stairs here are very unforgiving and there is no Spanish word for 'staircarpet'. Paco has two brothers with the same 'falling condition'. The local ambulance service reckon they should have a season ticket or a loyalty card.
Pedrito, 'the uninvited flamenco singer' strolled by, looking worse for wear. He is a regular casualty of the drink and used to feature at the La Peña Flamenca (flamenco club) in Paseo Martos. Inspired by the music, the duende (magic) and Fino Carbonell he would rise from his seat at the front of the room and start to sing a spirited malagueña, bulería or maybe a fandango before being bundled out of the room by a couple of serious club members. He would do it it bars too. We loved his impromptu recitals but Antonio of La Taverna de Antonio was more discerning. He once shut him up by walking over to him and slapping him on the forehead. Pedrito took all this negative criticism in his stride as all true artists must.
La Peña Flamenca is a hidden gem. It's tucked away at the far end of Paseo Martos, near where Antonio and Joachím had their pescadería.
La Peña Flamenca
The club is packed with flamenco nick nacks and pictures of past and present flamenco artists (not including Pedrito) and puts on concerts for members and other aficionados. The 'palo ' called La Malagueña was invented in Álora and we have a statue to prove it
Andalusians are not known for their height. A perote taller than 5 ft. 5 would stand out in any crowd, and children are even smaller. Children will only be allowed in the new pool if accompanied by an adult. No wonder!
The urinals in the men's toilet also cater for the taller man.
The urinals and 'a taller man'
Our 'flying visit ended on Friday' which meant we would miss one of my favourite events, The Festival of Verdiales at La Ermita de las Tres Cruces on Sunday (see April 2014 blog)
and also the procession of La Virgin de la Cabeza (The Virgin of the Head) down by the railway station and the big party afterwards.
I've heard that the procession was rained off.
But what a disappointment that we could not get to Alhaurin de la Torre to experience this tasty treat. (A basic knowledge of Spanish may be needed to 'get the picture'. Tip: Try zooming in above the word 'Baby´)
More tea vicar?
April 30th. 2015