Looks like it might be a slightly longer day. My backpack straps are wound tightly and that 5am wake up means I’m not so brightly lit for the nightly activities. A month of Duolingo against a family of native speakers; will she crumble?
My Airbnb host’s family is taking me to see the fireworks on the beach, the night before the Feria de Málaga. Valentina is teaching me Spanish words in the car. She’s six, her favourite colour is red and she doesn’t have school tomorrow. We drive forwards and backwards amongst the narrow maze of vehicles double- and triple-parked. Through a car window, I peep at a thankful embrace amidst crumpled metal and sirens. Delirium turns the bustling crowd and smell of sewage into ants making tracks on a forgotten sandwich. People are alive with anticipation and just barely policed by common sense.
Cynthia embraces Valentina as they watch the fireworks start, one of those hugs where cheeks collide and bodies sway side to side. The subtle orange glow of street lamps is sliced by squeals of young children wide awake in the early hours of the morning. Silhouettes gather at the water’s edge for a better glimpse of the artificial fire. Braver souls frolic in lukewarm waves. I’m glad to have company even though communication is limited to exaggerated facial expressions, gestures and “está bien.”
Vicky is a better grandmother than Mrs Doubtfire. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is waiting for me in the morning, so sweet it makes my jaw unclench and my ears rise up. Lunch is the usual bread, salad and hummus supermarket delicacy. I promenade through the streets tackling the prospect of wearing a dress to the fair tonight. I decide against it.
We reach throngs of youths and families alike entering Málaga’s biggest event of the year. Temporary streets are infested with intoxication. Behind each cardboard wall is a different sound; a mangled reverie of portals more and more enchanting.
I’m a goldfish rotating like the doner kebabs. Sounds attack like lasers and build a helmet of rhythm. In between glimpses of flamenco and techno clubs and blinking rainbow lights, Vicky will stop me to point out chicos guapos. She can tell I’m husband-hunting.
Near the concrete land of consumption we witness two men in a fierce headlock. They resolve to messy pashing and passionate face smashing. At 1am, “it’s just getting started” says Vicky in very slow Spanish as I listen blankly. A blonde mascara-stained face with a scrunched up nose screams at a smartphone in the taxi line.
Things are going oddly smoothly. Apart from a couple of supermarket mishaps and the general state of confusion, nothing dramatic has happened. Saturday morning answers my prayers, and brings with it my first brush with death.
I always thought death by lamb might be less dramatic, perhaps mouldy chops left in the fridge for too long or being flattened by a supermarket Christmas roast. The small regional town of Humilladero seems the perfect setting for some early-morning white-girl meditation in the forest. Waterless waterfalls sung by cicadas are interrupted by a flurry of cowbells. I open my eyes and see lambs running helter-skelter across the mountain towards me. Deep in a state of coffee-free confusion and half-baked mindfulness, I run away like a 4 year old runs from the tide.
Speaking of lambs, can this country maybe chill on the meat? What a feat, try skipping a beat these horses are overheating and I wouldn’t want to offend but it’s a bitter end and the pigs are our friends! Refuse a hand to the demise of all things nice and Choose! Hommus! Thismessagehasbeenauthorizedbytheaustraliangovernmentmalaga.
Frase del día: Necesito una siesta
Musica del lugar: Death in Midsummer - Deerhunter