Life has a habit of biting you on the smug bits. Yesterday, after we’d been swimming I was amused by Shirley’s plight on the way back to the van. We still had our damp swimsuits on under shorts and Tshirts and hers had left a mark on her shorts that looked suspiciously like a small accident in the sphincter department. The smug bit was that I’d thought to wear dark coloured shorts.
The wind was getting up as we trotted along and I decided to roll in the awning on the van when we got back. Shirley went inside to get out of her swimmies while I got to work on the awning. First thing was to lower the legs a bit. I got hold of one side and unclipped the catch completely unprepared for what was to follow. Unbeknown to me a couple of gallons of rainwater had gathered on the awning and as I lowered the leg a deluge landed on top of me, drenching me from head to foot. A strangled scream brought Shirley to the door of the van dressed in very little. She tried hard to keep her face straight and to sound concerned, she really did. She failed. But she wasn’t fast enough to get her camera out.
Unfortunately the warm pool on the awning fabric seemed to have become a mosquito breeding station and within minutes we were surrounded by hungry and very cross mozzies. Shirl still has the lumps – I was covered in Deet. There I go being smug again.
This morning we finally had to admit that the onboard batteries in the van were beyond saving and we were going to have to dust off the credit card. We rolled off the pitch and set off for Elche to a Caravanas Cruz. We’d been told that David, the workshop manager, spoke good English so it seemed like a good option. We arrived at about 10.30 a.m. and the aforesaid David looked at the batteries, pronounced them deceased and gave me a lecture on my foolishness in not taking care of them. I put up with it for a few minutes and then told him we’d only had the van three months. My defense was solemnly taken into consideration and he went off saying he would get the new batteries to fit for us. And we waited… and waited … the dogs got restless; Shirley took them for a walk and I waited… then we all waited some more.
Nothing prepares those of us from the more northern parts of Europe for the slow pace of life in these warmer climes. We began to believe that David had forgotten us completely so eventually in exasperation I tried speaking to any member of staff I could find. At last I hit the jackpot and found a boy of about 17 who could understand me and he went off to find David. David duly appeared with a technician who had the batteries changed in double quick time and then David reappeared to deliver another lesson on how batteries work. Actually it was a very useful lesson and I learned more from him than I have from looking stuff up on Google. Now that’s saying something isn’t it?
Next stop was a trip to Carrefour. We’ve been on site for a week and shopping in the local little town so going to a big hypermarket felt like a treat. It always feels like a treat until you’re in there and completely confused by the sheer enormity of the place. It took us about 10 minutes to find a piece of Brie.
Fridge all filled up and shoppers refreshed by mahoosive ice creams we were ready for the next adventure. We wanted to see the Flamingoes at Santa Pola Natural Parc. Shirley had her camera with her – well to be strictly accurate we had everything we owned with us as we were in the motorhome but you get my drift – and she was excited about finally getting that special flamingo picture.
We saw the flamingos but only as we drove tantalisingly close to them. Despite all our best efforts we couldn’t find the car park. We saw the signs but they disappeared in the middle of a dual carriageway and then were to be seen no more.
Back at the site we looked it up on Google. The car park was in the only place we hadn’t searched for it – funny that eh? We’ll be back, as the big bloke said.
My years on earth have taught me something important. Funnily enough it’s something my mother used to say but who listens to their mother? I’ve learned that if you listen to people you learn a lot. Ironic isn’t it? So, aside from the lesson on battery maintenance the lovely David had something else important to say to me today. As we walked, nay strolled, into the office so that I could pay the bill I complimented him on his English. He told me that he’d worked in the USA and also in Southampton but then come back to work in his hometown in Spain. He then said that he’d made a mistake. He should have stayed in the UK. I was surprised… life here seems so pleasant and relaxed. The sun shines all the time. Why would he want to be anywhere else? He told me that he loved the rain that made everything so green and beautiful. That in Britain we don’t appreciate our climate that is so easy to work in. Here in Spain they work in temperatures of 40° or more in the height of summer and the dust and insects could really get a person down. The economy isn’t recovering well here and life can be tough. His message was clear: appreciate the temperate climate and the relative wealth you have. Then he smiled and waved and was gone.
Thank you David.