‘Cold is not the issue,’ says José, ‘but the fact that your holiday is over and that you need to work again.’
I told José that I am happy to go home and work, although it is a cold Hungarian home. José is our Airbnb host and he’s accommodating us from his third floor apartment in Málaga. He works behind a couple of computers, curtains drawn closed, balcony door open for the cigarette smoke to escape and a can of beer within reach.
I slide solitary through the kitchen, slippery from oil. I do it quietly as José often sleeps on the couch. His snoring is to be heard and a friendly wave from his arm will soon come my way, together with a ‘buenos días’. All the while, the permanent smell of cigarette smoke is transformed to an odd kind of incense.
Geo and I get used to the small puddle of pee underneath the toilet and the fact that Ukrainian Svetlana can not come to clean the premises is not at all bothersome as we are convinced Svetlana is either farsighted or near blind. José home is a bit dirty. We buy flip flops and are good to go.
We knew Málaga is a big noisy city and to add to the cacophony of sounds we have a lady in high heels a floor above us and José repeating his troublesome companionship with 3 schizophrenic people. Sometimes he need to go counseling them, with a bottle of liqueur under his arm he’s off on his motorbike, and drives drunk back home. Every morning I am listening to the same troublesome stories in repeat mode. The afternoons are a lisped prelude of the troubles ahead of José, accompanied by drunkenness and tumbling back and forth.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere in Spain is a straight opposite to Hungary. Even with rain and a cloudy sky, the people of Spain remain lively, showing a zest for life and dressing up to the norm of city life. The depression of Hungarian provincial towns mirrored in the predominantly poor appearance and size of many is smashed to pieces in Málaga. Another apparent difference is the overall noise which has my ears stuffed with cotton all day long, and with wax balls all night.
We initially thought the good thing about a vacation is that Geo and I can enjoy the Spanish cuisine but this leads immediately to constipation and heartburn. After a week and a half and a few cups of senna tea we are relieved and stick to empanadas, Thai and Indian food.
We omit the white bread and nube coffees in screaky breakfast establishments, skipping the ladies with remarkable pouting lips as well (old and young alike the tattoo art and filling business needs no restriction).
A reason why we chose Spain as a vacation is that we are able to communicate, something which goes rather cranky in Hungary. The interaction gets best when we eat in ‘The Great India’, where Paraguayan Liz doesn’t think much of the bill she presents us with. With a good laugh and the latest information about the Punjab we continue walking through the rain.
Noise, constipation, bad nights sleep, heartburn and pricey food: all this would not affect me too much as I am going to make a long walk. We could have gone to Saudi Arabia, high on my wish list when I was a backpacker. We could have gone to India or Germany. All I wished for was a long walk in the country we would go to. A country with hills and views. Spain will do best. But in the meantime, attempting at being self sufficient with an up going line in growing and learning, I have shed the desire altogether to travel far away from home. For the first time in my 50 years life I live in an entirely own home with another person not my mom and dad. Where I was focused on traveling first, now I am focused on the home base.
Queuing for boarding an airplane, being at the mercy of airport officials and crossing borders at a speed not desirable are all things I shook off long ago by traveling by bicycle. Eating in restaurants, surrounded by hordes of people and tourists. A city dotted with alcoholics and their beer tins under bridges, bedding and cardboard structures and drunkards with foaming mouths. People everywhere. ‘Málaga is full with them, this is not the place for you’ and ‘you need to go up the hills but now it rains, after 8 months drought’, answers José.
The vegetables in the market are guarded with hawk eyes, forbidden to be touched. ‘All things grow in my own garden’, is all I can think of…
Out of two weeks vacation we have two weeks rain: a very despicable situation indeed. Therefor, vacations are just not a good invention. In fact, I do not need a vacation at all, neither does Geo. We realize we are living a life where we do not need an opposite. We do not need time off from our life, as it is a pleasant, ultra quiet and very fruitful life.
Eating the best possible vegetables might look like a minor adding to life, but is food not one of the objects sustaining us? If you have the chance and the place, growing food is one of the best possible activities you can fill your time with, as I have come to see things.
My eyes wander towards the cloud covered hills some distance away and I know my soul will be fed with pure food once there. But I also know what rain does to the challenges that the soul and the mind need. Torn between indecisiveness I argue that when I go, I can not be in doubt anymore and the night becomes soothing, for the first time I am in Spain.
I took an hour long bus drive to Antequera and started to walk. First in all the wrong directions but eventually found the way.
Kind of soothing was the night, as it rained and I forgot to check the tent before packing it, drops dripping in and an outer sheet zipper not functioning any longer. Yet, no high heels tap-dancing above me. No cellphone screen light. No snoring. No sounds (although airplanes in landing mode I could do without). The silence of wind, clacking of sheep bells and only nature is so extremely needed. Of course, I’d never take off voluntarily in the rain but Málaga drove me nuts. Including the unavoidable constancy of not being alone. To not be able to be alone is insanity.
One get used to things. To quietness. To city life. To the sight of injected lips. To the dents in my expensive titanium cup. When you see certain images long and often enough, it becomes normal. Unnoticed. But it is not to say that it is normal. What with rain?
Rain makes everything wet. My down jacket underneath the rain jacket. The socks in my shoes. The shoes. The underwear. The underwear in the (not so) rainproof bag in the plastic bag in the backpack. The pack weighs heavy, as the ongoing constipation does.
Rain makes decisions easier. I’d walk back to the tower and retrace my path. Except that I loose my bearings and not a stone familiar in formation shows up.
Rain makes it impossible to use the navigation on my cellphone. Views are lost in the clouds. I do meet with a mushroom hunter and he shows me the right path. He also looks at me if I am not fully accountable, showing me the weather forecast for the coming week: 90 to 100% rain. He carries an umbrella so his phone does not get wet when he shows me the weather prediction.
The ceiling of the tower started to drip big drops of continious rainfall upon a leaking tent. A storm raged and only the morning was quiet again.
The tower is my refuge. I’d checked it’s sturdiness on my way up, the walls and roof intact and no pee nor poop laying around. I feel a wimp for not continuing forward but the clouds make me see only whiteness. National Parc El Torcal is limited to about 50 meters onward in view. To walk towards Málaga, through villages where I am uncertain whether to be able to buy food or public transport back makes me see that I am a sheep too. I choose comfort too but the mind is remarkably satisfied with the decision to be here: the indecisiveness is gone.
I am cold but glad to be where I wanted to be, and I have ample time to embroider.
Once the tower reached, I hang all my stuff on twigs. It is drying at the same speed of time that makes Geo and I long to be home in Hungary. I have no underwear to wear and the periods sprang up in full bloom. Not wanting to be in Málaga I extend a little longer, though admitting the plenty well stocked wool shops have it’s pull on me (wool is not to be found in our Hungarian surrounding shops: praise to Málaga indeed). It might be odd to choose another night over rushing to an accommodation in the city but the city can get stolen, by the innumerable clouds hovering two weeks above.
The view from my tent within the tower. Later in the night most of the lights were switched off.
As if swallowed an ampule with pure life force, natural powers and nutrition of the highest shelf. Fed. Fullfilled. To have seen a piece of El Torcal gave me what I longed for: quietness of all senses. Standing still of mind, except the awareness of rapture. Pure consciousness without thoughts: Spain delivers.
Returning back in to the city by public transport is an instant feel of misery. Dejection. Dirt. Depression.
‘Come on Cindy, not so negative’ and indeed, the true beauty is abundantly present in the old city, where I walk to every day.
This short tour annihilated all madness and noise within Málaga. Wiped away like the wet toilet papers and sanitary napkins on some of the beaches of this city.
Returning back in to José’s apartment where the curtains are drawn up for once, light flowing in, as if to praise the majesty of sun rays. In fact, our kind goodhearted host José received heartfelt attention and a prayer in German from Geo. Now José whistles and keep repeating us how wonderful Geo is, with which I wholeheartedly agree.
The last two days are days with the sun shining. The sweet memory of being a backpacker returns when I walk all day, from hill to hill, ending in the Asian restaurant of the top floor of El Corte Inglés, meeting with Geo, who spend hours reading Dostojewski. Both uplifted we are going home soon.
‘28 people in your village? Is there a bar?’ asks José.
Millions of dogs in a city peeing against buildings, pooping on pavements. The constant noise, adding sore ears from earplug overuse. The zombie alike state of mind, too much input, too shallow sleeps. Too late to bed, too late rising. All the drunkards, homeless and insane are too concentrated, too gross, too smelly, just as the perfumed ones are. The sound of high heels, below on the pavement and a floor above. A little peak preview into mayhem, into a fairground illusion it is for me. But not for the inhabitants of this city, as it is their life.
‘What is the name of your village’, asks José. I tell him he can not know the village, as even people 20 kilometer away from our home do not know this village. And how happy are we to return to this boring, quiet, unknown street with officially 28 people (in reality it is closer to 15 permanent residents). To know I go home where I don’t need an airplane propelled vacation from because I love being a self sufficient wife with a kickbike.
Contrary to most city trippers I have one set of city clothes and on the last day this spot became too hot to sit without shedding enormous amounts of sweat.
A failure it is not, an experience it was.
Thank you to Sandra and Reinhard for caring for our two cats and greenhouse and to José for being such an easygoing, kind host.
Here’s to go to my webshop, where the fluttering fabrics you see on the photo’s are transformed to useful yet beautiful pouches.
Another one is just finished now. I named it ‘Sawn Tree Trunk‘