Antequerra, Spain

Originally uploaded by Pat and Amy’s pics

Driving in the cities had become such a frustration in Spain that we seemed to have only two choices. We could abandon our original plans to see Córdoba and Sevilla and instead visit smaller towns or we could abandon the car in the parking garage, fake our own deaths to avoid payment on the rental, and take a ferry to Morocco. I was all for the second idea but Amy convinced me to try the first so we cancelled our room in Córdoba and instead spent several days in Antequera, a town of about 40,000 people.

I think most visitors would have gotten bored with Antequera pretty quickly, but we really enjoyed our time there. The best part was that we finally had an opportunity to try out our Spanish “skills.” In Barcelona in particular most of the people we came into contact with spoke English, but once we got into Antequera, our Spanish was often better than the locals’ English. One day I dropped off some laundry and had to use my Spanish to establish that we wanted the clothes washed but not ironed, that it would be ready by 12 but not 11, and that we didn’t live in Antequera. I admit that some of this communication was helped along by a little charades. She mimed ironing, while I mimed being trapped in an invisible box.

We spent our last couple of nights in Ojén, a wonderful little white village just north of Marbella. Within hours we weren’t just planning on visiting again but deciding exactly when we could move there, since we had originally planned to live in Spain for three months before moving to Ireland and a two-week working (for me) holiday just wasn‘t long enough. The food in Antequera had been something of a disappointment (except for the roasted chestnuts, a first for me, and oddly addicting), but although Ojén was much smaller, the food was much better. Twice we had pollo asado, or roast chicken, and I could have eaten it breakfast, lunch and dinner.

During the course of our trip, I drank red wine and ate rabbit, duck, mussels, and olives (none of this will seem that surprising to those of you who don’t know me well, but my siblings once offered to pay me a dollar to eat an olive. I did, and they never paid, the lying ) There were times I almost felt like a grown-up.

Two literary notes: We visited Ronda, the town which inspired Hemingway’s execution scene describing people being thrown off a bridge in For Whom the Bell Tolls. The bridge is quite impressive, and while I doubt any executions have taken place there recently, two people have died recently in what are believed to be unrelated suicides.

It was also reported while we were in Spain that the body of the poet Federico García Lorca has probably been discovered. He was murdered during the Spanish Civil War, and his body had never been found, but now it is believed to be in a mass grave under a tree near Granada. The last we heard, there was a legal battle surrounding the decision to dig up the bodies but it will probably happen soon.

Spanish Civil War atrocities aside, I’m not surprised we loved Spain so much. Any country that schedules a two hour nap into their workday is okay in my book.