As we packed up the van this morning, ready to move on, I noticed the same two Spanish gentlemen who have been in the car park each of our three days here.
They met at 9am and sat at the picnic table benches in the corner. On warm days, they were in shirtsleeves, today with the cloudy skies they were wrapped in warmer coats and hats with pull down flaps for their ears. Each day they were rapt in conversation. The taller gent in the black coat sat with his back to the rising sun, at one corner of the table. His friend took the adjacent corner, listening with rapt attention, his short legs swinging several inches above the paved area. From time to time, he roared with laughter at whatever tale he’d been told.
They were engrossed in each other’s company, this duo. Parting was no quick process. At 11am, they stood to move in opposite directions. But one remembered a thing that had just occurred, they walked together again, sharing the item that must not be forgot. Slapping one another’s backs they moved as if to part, but then the other raised a hand and they moved closer once more. Eventually, foot by foot, they grew more distant until at nearly 11:15, they finally turned their backs on each treasured friend and went their separate ways.
We’ve left the safety of our last stop and inched our way down the coast toward an eventual destination of Granada, seeing friends enroute.
Park4Night directs us to a tree-shaded car park that’s empty save for two silent campers. We put ourselves equidistant to the others, positioned to maximize the sun’s glare and the energy that the solar panel can absorb. A fourth camper, large, coach-built and British in origin pulls into the arena. It boasts a private plate and soon a couple emerges with their dog. The gentleman looks tentative and glances in our direction. I wave in response and they come to chat awhile.
We learn of their journey, how they rejected the option of purchasing property in Spain over renting, which they then eschewed in favour of touring in a van. They’ve been doing this 8 weeks and happily share their knowledge of which regions have the friendliest governance regimes when it comes to motor homes. We flip pages in our map book (gifted by my aunt and uncle) and trace our finger along Spain’s jagged edges.
As our English companions move away, the occupants of the third camper appear and come over to say hello. A French couple who are happy and friendly, they proudly announce that they’re both 65. My school-girl French gets us so far in the cheery exchange, her very good English makes up the distance. The compliments for my grasp of the language are unearned. I realized a couple of years ago that if I (mis)pronounce foreign words with confidence then the owner of whatever language I have abused will happily correct me and take no offence at my bungled attempts at communication. Consonant pronunciation is everything!
So we’ve had friends old and new today. But also, I’ve had a few messages from friends in response to this blog, and I want to say thank you.
Writing the blog, not dissimilar to sending out my book to agents, requires a push of hope and confidence that I often struggle to find. All the likes, smiley faces and comments I receive are small salves to my flailing esteem. Hormones aren’t helping, they send me on my menopausal rollercoaster. Even here, wandering round Europe, I dip from time to time. But I want to acknowledge and send back appreciation for those reactions.
Imagine, if you will, that I’ve pushed a stake in the ground; it has a flag attached. The cloth that flutters in the breeze reads “Friend” and it’s there for all who’ve taken the time to read this account or any of the other things I’ve sent into the open domain. Your support counts as friendship, it’s precious and appreciated.