If we are what we eat – and my bathroom scales support that theory – are we also where we live?
I looked in the mirror last week and saw a country bumpkin, so yes…
No trace, these days, of the Marbella Belle I once aspired to be!
It was a culture shock moving to the boondocks of Los Barrios Spain.
The confusion living in a district called The Districts causes! (“Yes but which barrio? No, Los Barrios! You live in two districts?)
It’s a pinprick on the map in Cadiz Province no one has ever heard of, much less set out to find.
Even the postal service has problems as there are two number 27s in our street, go figure, so I don’t often get mail.
They don’t wear high heels and pencil skirts here, as they do in Marbella, except for weddings, funerals and Saturday nights, so I spend my days dressed like a campesina (a Spanish peasant) if I get out of my dressing gown at all).
Dressing gowns are acceptable street wear, though, when washing your step in the morning, as they do here. It’s sublimely Spanish and quintessentially campo.
The local rooster and his sidekick, a hee-hawing donkey, get us up in the morning.
Regular power brown-outs see us to bed at unearthly hours.
It’s not a wealthy town but our three cats help to boost the local economy or, rather, the local vet’s economy, requiring twice-daily insulin shots, special diets and regular fur-cuts.
On the face of it, this petite pueblo perched on the southernmost tip of the Iberian peninsula hasn’t a lot going for it.
• Palmones the local beach, fringed with smoke-belching Cepsa chimneys, is hardly the stuff of holiday brochures (no one notices the wildlife reserve behind it)
• The shopping centre is a sprawling industrial estate graced with its own Twin Towers – the tallest office block in Andalucía.
• The town roundabout was modelled on a birthday cake, candles and all (until last month when a bulldozer demolished it). We can’t wait to see what they put in its place!
But look at it this way: it lies at the crossroads of two major continents (Africa and Europe) and two Spanish Costas (Sol & Luz). And it’s the gateway to three bodies of water (the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Gibraltar Strait), and three ‘foreign’ nations (Morocco, Gibraltar and Portugal).
That’s pretty central by my idea of the universe!
Beyond the frumpy façade, this quirky Spanish pueblo frays at the edges into country lanes where a wild beauty sprouts from untamed hedgerows in a tangle of colourful flowers.
Did you know that Los Barrios Spain …
• boasts the most scenic rubbish tips in Spain, on the edge of Europe’s largest cork forest (Los Alcornocales) – a favourite roadside diner for thousands of birds en route to Africa
• has one of the largest white stork colonies in Europe (and if you’ve seen the size of stork droppings you’ll know why I wear a hat!)
• would have had the most high-tech bullring in Spain if the automatic roof worked. It doesn’t because the architect wasn’t paid, so he took away the motor.
• has only 20 lines devoted to it in the English version of Wikipedia, so I’m going to add my own citation … from the centre of the universe!
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