Thursday, August 29, 2013

Put Another Nickel In

Our dear friend Tere's Spanish grammar and language skills are exceptional. Through our conversations, she taught me so much during our nearly two years in Sevilla that sometimes when I begin to speak, people are actually impressed with my verb forms. Many tell me most Spaniards don't even use the correct form. Of course, I then try another sentence and they realize it was just one verb. During Tere's last visit from Sevilla, she taught me some more. On a walk in the neighborhood, we passed a shop window displaying a collection of skull-shaped coin banks.

Tere pointed. "Hucha," she discreetly said.  [The "H" is silent.]

I repeated at full voice, "Hucha"?

She whispered, "Sí, hucha."

HUCHA: SPANISH FOR A COIN BANK.

I had no idea why she had whispered. She was laughing as she went on to explain that, in addition to piggy banks, "hucha" is also used to refer to savings, money boxes, and the coin slots themselves (in vending machines and anything else). Great. But, still, nothing to be embarrassed about.

HUCHA: ALSO THE WORD FOR THE COIN SLOT IN A VENDING MACHINE.
I WAS GOING TO INCLUDE AN EXAMPLE OF "SAVINGS"
... BUT I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE.

By this time, we were crossing Plaza San Rafael. The vendors were getting ready to re-open the gift market for the evening. Tere went on to explain that "hucha" was also slang. She pointed and said, "Hucha."

HUCHA.  (I WAS SO TEMPTED TO DROP IN A CENTIMO.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thar She Blows!

Whales do come by here but, as far as I know, not close enough for us to spot from our terrace. Still, just about every morning, thar she blows. "She" has a gas-powered leaf blower and works her way down the Paseo noisily blowing the sand and debris into neat piles that she then (quietly, thank you) sweeps up and hauls away.

YES, THAR SHE BLOWS.
THE PECULIAR BOAT ALSO MAKES A REGULAR SWEEP.  FOR FLOTSAM AND JETSAM?

I talk often about what bliss it is to wake up to the sounds of the sea; well, some mornings, we wake up to this. At least the streets are always clean, but at times Our Lady of the Leaf Blower really works San Geraldo's last nerve. (One point in her favor: She knows all the locals and is always warm and friendly.) I've included a 30-second video to help you appreciate this idyllic morning in Los Boliches. (If you click on many of the photos, they'll blow you away.)

DOGS SEEM TO LIKE IT LESS THAN WE DO (WHICH JUST ADDS TO THE BLISS).
ANOTHER DAILY ACTIVITY: CHAISE CUSHIONS COME BACK OUT.
PEDAL FAST.  SHE STOPS FOR NO MAN...
... OR WOMAN.
ONE OF MY PET PEEVES: WALKING ON THE BICYCLE PATH.  THEY DESERVE WHAT THEY GET.
'THIS TOWN AIN'T BIG ENOUGH FOR THE THREE OF US, PARDNERS."
THE FASTEST "GUN" IN THE WEST?

video

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

River Zippers

When I was at the other end of town to visit the Medieval Market (the previous blog post), I was surprised to see all the activities available. The last time I was at the river, I didn't notice much more than bicycle rentals and the pedal boats that I got to enjoy with Sara, John, and Truly Great Nephew Jack (click here to see how truly great). There may have been a couple of other things, but still it was pretty quiet. Now there's a restaurant/bar right on the river below the castle and a whole bunch of outdoor activities — a rock wall, surfboard and boat rentals, and more. The zip line across the river looked especially fun. My impression was that these were all high-season installations (primarily the month of August) — even the restaurant. I'll have to check back. (The first photo and the last four can all be made even more exciting — bigger — if you click on them.)


THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER FUENGIROLA. HOW I GOT ACROSS.
AN EMPTY TOWER.  MOMENTS LATER, IT WAS FILLED WITH "ZIPPERS."
THIS IS SOMETHING I WOULD LIKE TO TRY.
SHE SCREAMED ONCE.  I WONDER IF SHE REALIZED SHE COULD HAVE USED THE BRIDGE.
NOT A MOMENT OF HESITATION.
ALL SMILES...
NO WONDER THEY WERE ALL SO WILLING.  WAITING AT THE BOTTOM:
A RUGGED, OUTDOORSY KIND OF GUY ...  AND A MATTRESS.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Have I Stayed Too Long At The Fair?

Forgive me for being kind of sarcastic today, but I can't help myself.

Well, OK, I can help myself.

I just don't want to.

I took a walk to Sohail Castle Saturday at 7 p.m.  It's about a 4-km (2.5-mile) walk, the last quarter mile up the steep castle hill. It was a warm evening and I walked at a comfortable pace, arriving at the top about 45 minutes later. The highly touted (by a Costa del Sol tourist newspaper and by Fuengirola's Department of Tourism and Events) Medieval Market opened Friday night.

From my perspective the only things "Medieval" about this market were the location (a 10th-century castle), the pseudo-Medieval costumes, and some of the decorations. And I suppose that would have been just fine with me if it hadn't been for the hype. There were many vendors, inside and outside the castle walls, selling the same things I've seen at every fair/market in Sevilla and Málaga — and right down the street last week at the little summer market near our house.

STEPPING INTO THE PAST?

I suppose my opinion wasn't helped any when, upon entering the castle, the first tent I saw contained a collection of captive owls (no rescue organization or zoo identified). For 3 euros, you could have your picture taken with whichever owl you chose. The Great Horned looked right into my eyes as if to say, "Don't even think about it!" I wouldn't have anyway.

PERHAPS SOME MEDIEVAL COTTON CANDY FOR OUR STROLL BACK IN TIME.

There was a little archery tent where kids (with careful management — and a little cash, of course) could shoot an arrow into a target.

So the market and fair weren't much different in content from other markets and fairs I've visited. But to be less unkind, it was a very nice market and fair. The location and views are stunning. The layout made it fun to walk around. There were plenty of places to eat (and drink) and plenty of places to sit and relax. And I'm sure it was a great place to party at night (hours were 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.).

So, despite the sarcasm, it was worth seeing and I'm glad I went. I just think the newspaper may have over-stated it when they reported: "the Market is considered one of the most important in Spain," and is like "entering a time tunnel that takes us back to the past."

The biggest surprise for me were the number of bars specializing in Mojitos and Caipirinhas. I had no idea these went back to Medieval times... (They don't, really.) I was tempted to order one (or the other) at the bar that claimed to have the best. But I was without my Medieval charger, palfrey, or packhorse (or my Medieval ass for that matter) and it was a long walk home.

LOTS OF MEAT...
TRADITIONAL FOOTWEAR.
MORE BOOTHS OUTSIDE THE CASTLE WALLS.
VIKING INVADERS HEADING ONTO THE FOOD TERRACE FOR SOME MEAT... AND MOJITOS.
ROSES MADE OF WOOD. BEAUTIFULLY DONE.
CHOCOLATE!!! A VENDOR IN MEDIEVAL AFRICAN PATTERN AND CROCS FOOTWEAR. 
A ROOM WITH A VIEW... AND SWEET CREPES AND PASTRIES.
LOTS OF ORIGINAL MEDIEVAL GOODS.
(INCLUDING A FABRIC MONKEY BACKPACK AND NATIVE AMERICAN DREAM CATCHERS.)
APPARENTLY, MOJITOS AND CAIPIRINHAS WERE VERY POPULAR WAY BACK WHEN.
RETURNING TO MODERN TIMES.
NUT-SELLER (RIGHT) ON AN AUTHENTIC CELL PHONE.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Forgiving the Unrepentant

You might remember that we had to move our new succulent from the terrace to outside the front door (where the cats cannot go) because Moose found the plant much too much fun (click here for that post). Moose didn't find the plant delicious, just delightful. He would nip off the top growth of a stem and, with a flick of his head, toss it to the side before nipping off the next one.

JULY 20: THE DAY AFTER BEING RESCUED FROM MOOSE.
JULY 19:  THE VICTIM AT LEFT. MOOSE IN BACKGROUND... JUST LOOKING.

After one month, the succulent is very happy. The buds that survived Moose are finally beginning to open. A very slow bloom process, but the plant is thriving. And on every stem that Moose nipped, new growth has formed. In addition, the plant sent up new branches on the sides of most of the nipped stems and they're covered with buds and flowers. Maybe Moose knew what he was doing. Our very own horticaturist!

AUGUST 23: THIS CLUSTER HAD BEEN SAVED FROM MOOSE.
WHERE MOOSE REMOVED ONE, THREE NOW GROW.
SO, I FORGIVE HIM... EVEN THOUGH...
HE NEVER KNEW HE HAD ANYTHING TO BE FORGIVEN FOR.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Feria De Málaga 2013

Thursday, I took the commuter train (Cercanías) into the city of Málaga (we live in the province of Málaga) and spent a couple of hours at Feria (the annual summer fair). It was much bigger (and louder) than I expected. Booths, music, food, gifts, street performers all over the old city center. At the port was more. In the evenings, the fairgrounds outside of town (between us and the city center) are filled with rides, food, and casetas (where people drink, dance, and party until the wee hours).

When I arrived in the city before 1 p.m., the streets were already crowded but the crowds were manageable. On some streets the noise (canned music blasting from many directions) could be overwhelming. But there were several really good live bands. I took loads of pictures (some with my camera and the rest with my phone when my camera battery died), including many of the beautiful city. I decided to keep this post entirely about Feria. (That's more than enough for now.) I'll save Málaga for another time.

THIS IS WHAT I SAW WHEN I ENTERED CALLE MARQUÉS DE LARIO (THE CENTER OF THE FESTIVITIES).
ONE VERY SERIOUS FLAMENQUITA.
FLAMENCA TWINS... AND A DIVA.
ANOTHER DIVA. BOTH DIVAS SAW THE CAMERAS AND MADE SURE TO BE FRONT AND CENTER.
CALLE MARQUÉS DE LARIO (CLICK TO SEE IT IN ITS GRANDEUR).
MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS.
THREE GENERATIONS.
SOME OF THE KIDS' GAMES TENTS. THE ROMAN AMPHITHEATER IN BACKGROUND.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE THE RUINS.)
PLAZA DE LA MERCED. FILLED WITH HANDICRAFTS ... AND MUSIC.
(CLICK FOR A BIGGER OBELISK.)
THAT MIGHT BE ENOUGH FOR ME.
(CLICK FOR A STRONGER CUPPA.)

THIS GROUP SANG AS THEY HEADED OVER TO PLAZA DE LA MERCED.
THEY FILLED THE STREETS (AND ME) WITH JOY.
THE CROWD (AND NOISE) GROWS. CATHEDRAL IN BACKGROUND.

ONE NEARLY EMPTY PLAZA (WITH MUSIC BLASTING FROM ALL AROUND).
TWO HOURS LATER, MAKING MY WAY THROUGH WASN'T EASY.
(CLICK TO MAKE THE CROWD BIGGER.)
TOSS IN A COIN AND SHE CHANGED HER POSE.
(CHARLIE CHAPLIN WAS GOOD, BUT THE FLAMENCA HAD A NICE SET OF CASTANETS.)
HEADING BACK OUT BEFORE THE MAJOR CROWDS ARRIVED.