The sweet scent of Jasmine arrests as it gently carries itself on the breeze. Jacaranda and Bougainvillea are tempting in flower. Pine and woodsmoke rise from chimneys below the white terraces of the old pueblo. The odd dog barks, a cat plays with an old chicken bone on the cobbled street and goldfinches chirrup from their cages set there by the residents in the open windows of the old town. Overhead martins flit in competition with the evening bats for the the last of the flying insects before the sun finally sets. A peregrine patrols in case a pigeon gets complacent and flies too far to the sun. This would be the last error of judgment the hapless fat bird makes, for the falcon will spot it from afar and swoop to end its sorrows. Yellow swallowtail butterflies gather their life spirit from purple flowers. Trees are laden down with lemons and oranges, so plentiful that they are not harvested, left to fall where they will. Makes me think again of Gin.
This is March.
Lest we forget.
Looking out across the valley to Dragon mountain from the terrace, nothing seems to be happening. And that is just fine with me. The scene is still, the air faintly shimmering in the afternoon heat. The sea beyond glowing blue and gold. African mountains are topped with snow in the distant horizon, the whiteness betraying the harsh black and red of the earth below them. A few ships, just specks at this distance, carry their loads to Istanbul, Naples or Cairo.
Coaches leave the town, taking the gawping barbarian selfie hordes back down the road to the coast and to Hades. A million instagrams will be posted around the world to be seen once and then forgotten before the next trip is planned. All that sophisticated software, the gift from far too clever people in Silicon Valley, just to show a donkey’s arse or another lady grinning soul from Shanghai. I too am part of that transient babble come here to marvel, to leave only euros and a broken heart at the thought of such innocence betrayed under an Andalucian sun. For such is our contradiction as visitors, coming to see the authentic and in doing so our own inauthenticity is packaged and sold back to us. It is too late in this era of mass tourism to do but any other.
There is still evidence here of real people living real lives in the quieter back streets that the day trippers never find. The Bar Alencon or the Bar Cadron hide sun soaked sangria fueled treasures, but you’ll need time and a nose to find them. A good few years ago, after a flagon of the local good stuff, we danced back down through Calle Malaga in the hot evening air. No one was arrested, no donkeys were harmed and little children abed slept soundly safe in the knowledge that the moon would still rise. Sangria is a perchance a maligned drink unless you witnessed the real thing being constructed out of fresh oranges, strawberries, red wine and gin (enough to drown an elephant). You might want an ambulance.
Lunch: Tapas again today. Home made.
Clams (Ann says they are cockles) from yesterday, then followed by chorizos in red wine. Fair enough I hear you say. A pretty common dish.
Start with buying chorizo from an Andalusian market. Get your shallots and garlic from the same place. I had previously marinated tomatoes in virgin olive oil, balsamic de Modena and oregano, seasoned with salt and ground black pepper. The little red beauties had bathed in the marinade like olive skinned nubiles soaking up temptation in a hot tub and were now ready to explode on your tongue like an orgasm with the midday sun on your back. This was love on a plate.
Cut the chorizos into pound coin size pieces, put to one side while the shallots and garlic sizzle in butter. Then add the tomatoes and red wine, reducing the liquid before adding the chorizo. Cook until the chorizo oils run into the pan to mix with the marinade. Let sex commence. The pan will resemble the smell of a well perfumed Roman orgy, but without the sweat and halitosis. Add more wine, and if you don’t feel the slightest of long forgotten teenage urges, add some more. Reduce the liquid until the chorizo pieces are coated in heaven sent moistness. Serve with fresh bread, butter and more wine. On a separate plate serve Avocado slices. Don’t mess with the avocado. This helps to cut through the richness of the red wine sauce. Place all the dishes on a table on a sun terrace with an ambient temperature of about 22 degrees, make sure you have a view and time to think.
As a post prandial sweetener, nibble on almonds boiled in honey and sugar by Señor in the market square. The almonds are left with a crispy coating of honey soaked sweetness, enough to send shivers down your spine.
You might want a siesta after that, or some other kind of lie down.
The sun will by now be over its zenith and be chasing its own path towards sunset. This will call forth Gin and Tonic time.
Which brings us back to the bats in the evening glow of another glorious sunset.