Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

Did I ever tell you about the time, many years ago, when we went with a lot of the villagers to the television studios in Malaga for a sort of ‘Down your Way’ programme?  The mayor asked Carmen and I if we would like to go along to represent tourism in the valley and we of course agreed.  Other villagers were with us to expound on the virtues of living in ‘The Valley of Happiness.’

We boarded a coach in the village and off we went to Malaga, a veritable charabanc trip, the like of which I’ve not been on for since I was a lad.  We were shown into the studio and briefed on what was to happen.  It was a two-hour daily programme about all things Andalucian.  First there would be a general spiel about what was going on in the Malaga area, then we would be asked to talk about Saleres, then the resident doctor would answer telephone calls from people with various ailments and then the wind down and finish.

All went well, then it came to our spot.  The mayor got up and spoke most eloquently about our valley and what a delight it was to live in a paradise full of orange and lemon trees, how the Moors of Granada had used the valley as a market garden and also to escape from the August sun in Granada to the valley’s mellow microclimate and about how the valley had thereby adopted the name of the Valley of Happiness.  He stopped just short of saying that all the villagers spent their days dancing and singing in the streets and throwing nosegays at visitors.

Carmen did her bit for tourism, again saying what a wonderfully relaxing place the valley was and how you could come on holiday there and be rejuvenated with the happiness vibes that emanated from every nook and cranny of the village and the surrounding orange groves.  Then, having done our utmost to sell the valley as a veritable Paradise of laughter and joy, which it is, of course, we all sat down and waited for the doctor to do his thing.  But the doctor did the unforgiveable, went off-script and turned to us Salereños and asked,

‘Does anyone from Saleres have anything they would like to ask me?’

We all did the usual shuffling in our seats and looking down at our laps and then one of the wives said,

‘Yes.  I have lived in Saleres all my life and suffer terribly from depression.’

A stunned silence from the doctor and the mayor turned all the colours of the rainbow.  The doctor swiftly signalled for the producer to patch through a call from outside and the show proceeded.

No-one knew exactly what to do when the show finished but the mayor had arranged lunch for us in one of Malaga’s institutions, a seafood restaurant on the beach called El Tintero, so we piled off the bus there and had a few wines and thought about damage limitation.  Being Spanish, interest was soon lost in this pointless exercise and we enjoyed a lovely seafood lunch.  El Tintorero doesn’t have a menu, the waiters walk at great speed around the restaurant holding plates of different fishes high in the air and shouting what is on their particular plate.  when you hear the name of a fish dish you like you just stop one of them and he gives you a plate of whatever he is carrying.  A great atmosphere with waiters shouting their wares and punters shouting to attract the waiter’s attention.  Good noisy Spanish fun.  When you are finished the waiter comes to your table, counts the number of plates on the table and charges you accordingly.  We ate outside as the weather was very clement, and the mayor told me that in the past this part of the restaurant had been on the beach but they had had to concrete it over  as the punters were eating their fill and burying most of their plates in the sand before the waiter came around and did his tally.  Good jape.  I wondered what other tricks people got up to to avoid paying.  Putting the dishes in your wife’s handbag?  Masking tape them to the underside of the table? Stick them up your jumper?  In our case this wasn’t necessary as the mayor was paying, so we just tucked in enjoyed ourselves.

A typical day out in Andalucia, the best laid plans of mice and men……?  Never mind, it gives me something to write about.