Saturday, July 08, 2006

Storm damage

I've been clearing storm-dumped undergrowth that was a fire hazard and unsightly. Remember they had monster hailstorms which transformed their beautiful river into raging, boulder-tossing torrent? Well, when the water receded it had torn up willows, thrown down branches and clogged every felled tree and plant in thick mud and humus, bound together with brambles. When you first look, it doesn't seem so bad: there's so much greenery, the birds and crickets never let up, and through it all there's the sound of the river and the waterfall. Closer inspection shows the damage, though, and Kath mourns the beautiful glade of roses and willows that disappeared in an afternoon. The signs of regrowth don't quite compensate.

Sabado en Malaga

Here's a list. This week I have cleared undergrowth, painted skirting, weeded and watered a vegetable garden, sawn branches (not very well), mixed concrete, wiped off newly concreted paving, shelled almonds and fed the broken ones to the chickens, cleared more undergrowth, painted fire buckets, teak-oiled outdoor furniture, thoroughly broken in my new workboots, acquired an impressive collection of scratches and the beginning of a suntan, and been stung by a wasp. I have been very comfortably housed, very well fed, taught a great deal in a short timestorm, given free use of a lovely swimming pool, and reintroduced to muscles I'd forgotten I had. I've learnt the Spanish names of all sorts of trees, and forgotten the Spanish for all sorts of tools. I've been reading Hola! in Spanish and, so, though I have no idea who Carmen Martinez-Bordiu is, I can tell you that she's very happy with her new husband Jose, so that's good! Right, I could wax lyrical about all sorts of lovely things, but I've got to go. I'll do detail and pics at a later date. Habibibaba arrives on Monday. =D

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nail-biting finishes and more fun

I got my bag! I got paid!! England got beat! That was some match! I watched in La Buena Sombra, which I noticed yesterday in passing. It was actually quite hard to miss because they had the doors and windows open upstairs and down, and lots of people roaring at ten plasma screens in glorious colour. So in I went, and asked for a cider, which is a Spanish speciality, but I must be too far south. So I asked for a vodka and coke instead, with lots of ice. He put lots of ice in a pint glass, then poured in almost half a glass. Measures? No. Bad idea. Really bad idea! So he poured some of it away (standards?!) and charged me €5. I added 2 more bottles of coke (Pepsi actually) and more ice before the end, but still sat there dry-mouthed and clutching the table through the extra sessions and the penalties - me and the rest of the bar! By the way, they had something I've never seen before (in my sheltered years in Dubai) - self service pumps built into some tables. There was a computer monitor mounted high that listed how much each table had poured - so you can keep track when there's half a dozen of you!

On my way here afterwards (in my nice clean clothes, with freshly washed hair - yay!) I passed an open doorway and discovered the Ateneo de Málaga, on the final day of Fotógrafia de la Naturaleza, an exhibition of the winning photos from Wildlife Photographs of the Year 2006. Faaaaaaaaantastic! Foxes, gorillas, owls, whales, bears (black and polar). Those people are so talented, and so skillful. (How do you spell that?) Also African drummers playing African drums for a festival -´I'm going back there now. There was also a Japanese woman (I think) practising flamenco in a small theatre, but I think she gave up when the drummers started. She was loud (I thought someone was slamming crates down) but it was no contest.

Right, off to get some African culture! There's apparently no end to what Malaga has to offer!

Entrada 2

Still no bag, but if you tried the hotel link, I expect you didn´t get far either. Recontacted Manchester and hope for best. No dratted salary yet either. Should have landed Thursday. Not penniless, but like things tidy! Grrr.

En route for Alcazaba yesterday, accidentally found Museo Picasso. Have realised that with every teeny calle (cay-ye - my street map is a plano callejero) marked, Centro Historico looks bigger than it is. Stopped for lunch at Laperia deli-bar, but exhausted and grumpy so back to hotel. Much better after snooze.

Back to Museo just after 6. Gorgeous building, very well spaced and lit, and very interesting collection. 85 pieces donated by P´s son & daughter-in-law. Saw my first 'live' Picasso in Barcelona last year, and was totally thrilled with the pottery he did in his 90s. Definite case of world's most famous artist saying ok - done it all - now for some fun! Goats, bulls, fish, men, women, with all the vigour and clarity of a child's work (up til he starts being told to stay inside the lines....sob!) but infused with an artist's skill and a grown man´s knowledge of the long artistic heritage of the mediterranean.

The Malaga collection is mostly paintings and drawings, with a few pots, some lithographs and some lino prints. Very well mounted: no ornate frames, just free hanging within plain wood frames (Ikea!) with non-reflective glass that's only noticeable when you wonder and check. Picasso makes me want to draw. He makes it look so easy, but also so essential - everyone HAS to draw! How can anyone NOT draw! That's how alive his work is. It's as if he's in every drawing, still making it, and you're in there with him, watching him make it, seeing the model, the room. Even his jokes - I get an impression of a wicked individual sometimes - the Grand Old Man of art putting down something silly and mischievous, just to see if we'll dare laugh, or feel compelled to rub our chins, and blether on in deep seriousness about the line, the composition, tidah-tidaah-tidaaaa. It's a JOKE!!!!! Wicked.

Rapid fade-out again. Not wearing a watch this summer, and the long light evenings are confusing after Dubai's sunsets which always make me think of a tennis ball plopping over a net. Two minutes' peachy aftermath and lights out, that's your lot thank you and goodnight!

So, to the cafe, for an iced tea, freshly made. Took glass to table and spotted GARDEN. Oh, the garden. Oh my. It has to be one of the most beautiful, most perfect little treasures in the whole wide world. A courtyard, paved and with four steps down from one level (tables and chairs) to the next, with big ceramic pots of geraniums in rows on each step, and a long narrow rectangle of quietly bubbling water that brought pigeons and sparrows in ones and twos for time out from the business of flocking around tourists. Miniature orange trees in pots. Natural hessian blinds, black wrought iron, plain windows, cream exterior walls bars. Conifers and vines. Bells from the church. Voices from the street. A secret garden of tranquillity.

Restored, I went to the archaeological site excavated below the building. The Phoenicians founded Malaka (uhuh) in the 7th century BC. The more I see and read about the Phoenicians, the more I realise our debt to them. They had a tremendous impact on Asia and Europe, and their influence is all over Jordan and probably Syria and Iraq too. Artists, traders, farmers, chemists. And where does our Roman alphabet come from? Begins with a Ph!

Back for more Picasso, until informed that the Museum would be closing in 15 minutes. Great restraint in the bookshop: postcards only, and no, I won't be sending them! 9 o'clock.

Essay in mediocrity at Cafe Tren: some kind of plastic cheese and oragano toasted on tinned tomato. The bread was crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but did not compensate. However, the chocolate con ron was very sweet, smooth, thick and delicious before bed, though I don't believe the 'ron' bit for a second.

This morning, I took camera and video camera and went out at 8.30 to beat the heat - er yeah, that really worked...... Walked to the port, along Paseo del Parque, and up, up up 1116 metres to Gibralfaro. Met an old man near the top, and had one of those funny conversations you can only have when neither of you speaks much of the other's language, and you know you'll never meet again, but you've taken a shine to each other. We compared our knowledge of each other's language, and of French, and talked in a mix of all three about Malaga and our school experiences and what I'm doing, with lots of sign language and exaggerated facial expressions, and louder and louder voices. It was brilliant, and we were totally delighted with ourselves and each other. Then he went back to his newspaper and the view.

I went back to climbing that darn hill. Surely fortification was unnecessary: any soldier who made it to the top could be felled by the flick of a finger. Gaaaaaah! Tremendous view, though, even on this muggy morning. Didn't actually go into Gibralfaro. Very hot and all outdoors except for a military museum which doesn't interest me. Bought bottle of orange and mandarin juice (yum) and got the bus down. Stopped to photograph a wedding (It was fun!) and then walked to secret entrance to ascensor (LIFT - oh THANK you!) to Alcazaba.

Alcazabar is beautiful. The stonework is handsome, the rooms are surprisingly small (Al cazabar means a fortress palace) but high celinged, white and airy, and the architecture is Islamic. It was a very enjoyable experience to wander through this foreign but familiar place, appreciating the cunning use of space and water that turned a defensive structure on quite a limited footprint into an enchanting labyrinth that drew the eyes and the feet to one courtyard and outdoor corridor after another, all beautifully paved and planted, and designed to catch and divert every breeze. Finished films and batteries! I am so glad I went.

So, that was my morning. I´ve been here in the a/c for a couple of hours, and it´s about time to get out there again. Back to the hotel, fingers crossed for my errant bag, but not really hopeful today. I explained to the manager's father last night.

"Avion de Dubai a Istamboul, dos bolsas. De de Istamboul a Manchester, una bolsa! Questo (indicating clothes) es todo!"

Actually quite pleased with my Spanish. Very messy but getting by. And I´ve bought a copy of Holá, and have been reading the local free newspapers. Nouns and verbs very similar, though this can be misleading, and I've got enough of the useful little words to make sense of quite a bit. Tiring though, and my lips move!