The Weather Today: Thursday, 6 September 2007

Self was driving to the San Carlos Farmers Market, around 6 PM, when a segment on “the only desert in Europe” came on NPR. Self thought: that must be the area around Tabernas. And it was.

A small town, in the middle of nowhere, 3000 residents. Eleven years ago, self and hubby and son drove there, after a very dusty drive across southern Spain in rented red Fiat.

We had no plan. We met a couple named, improbably, Julia and Julian. They were on their honeymoon in Nerja. They told us about this place, “Texas Hoolleewood”, they called it, and they pointed out where it was on a map.

And on the way there (self thinks she already blogged about this) we stumbled on a small restaurant in the middle of a dried-up riverbed: there was only one person manning the restaurant, and there were dismembered dolls and a broken hairdryer on the front lawn, and the young woman was both cook and waitress, and she was playing the most gorgeous jazz records on a gramophone, and she spoke perfect English, and it turned out she had graduated from the London School of Economics, where self’s sister did her undergraduate degree.

And after that we entered Tabernas, and watched with great glee as Spanish extras re-enacted famous scenes from Clint’s old spaghetti westerns. Self even has a picture of son with his head in a noose from an honest-to-god set movie set, which was better than anything in Universal Studios, because there were hardly any other people — aside from the costumed extras, that is.

So, self was listening as she drove to San Carlos, and the sky had a very eerie grey pall, which she figured was from the fires burning just south of San Jose (and this was the day when self decided to have her car hand-waxed for $53.99), and she thought of Mojacar and wondered if she would ever go back there, to the Fundacion Valparaiso. She was really lonely and it was a good thing a painter named Eizo Sakata was there, because they ended up going to a lot of the local markets, and that eased her homesickness somewhat. At a local market in Vera, self stumbled upon a dentist who said he had lived for 20 years in Redwood City, California, which was so incredible self never forgot it.

This afternoon, she sent e-mail to Fundacion Valparaiso, and a woman named Pilar answered. Self remembers it was the end of August when she stayed there, but Pilar said the Fundacion had been closed in August for the last couple of years. Which self thinks is probably a very good idea, as it was so hot when self was there that she used to lie on her bed and stare at the ceiling and feel she was slowly melting . . . She couldn’t even rouse herself to walk to the bar: she tried it, once, and arrived dripping with sweat, and all the people inside turned and gaped at her as she walked, sweat-soaked, into the bar. And there was that white ass, whose butt was somehow always halfway across the only path to the town self knew about, and as she sidled around huge ass-butt, she always wondered whether she was actually taking her life in her hands, for one swift kick from that animal would have sent self tumbling down a ravine, for sure.

But, anyhoo, self survived the she-ass. She survived the heat. She survived the loneliness. Perhaps she’ll try applying again 🙂

2 Comments

  1. Luisa said,

    September 7, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Dear Marianne, you’ve so inspired me. I began filling out paperwork for a Fundacion Valparaiso application two years ago, then didn’t send it. I still have the application forms, and the emails from Pilar. When is best time to go there?

  2. September 7, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Hi, Luisa,

    I heard (a long time ago) from Edna Manlapaz that she was there in June, and there was apparently some kind of religious re-enactment or fiesta–? So, I’d say that would be a good time to visit.

    Or, the cooler months: I was thinking of applying for September next year (of course, it means I have to turn down classes, but I figure if I can load up this year, I can then take time off next year– at least, that is the plan!).


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