Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The last grandchild of Antonia Ruiz Garcia

She had a gentle smile and a soft voice, Spanish all the way through. It was a bittersweet visit to meet Delores, who prefers the nickname of Lola.  Lola Nuñez Camuña is eighty one years old, the youngest of nine children.  She and I share ancestors all the way back to Juan Ruiz Vallejo.   My cousin, Maria Ángela and her brother Antonio drove me to the next town (up the monster road) to Puerto de la Torre this evening to meet the lady, their aunt.  Their father was the oldest and Lola was the baby.  I had to lean in close to hear her words and I did not understand many of them.  Darn it, I thought my Spanish was improving.  I was wrong.

For nearly three hours, Spanish conversations rose in volume around me to compete with the television as seven of us sat in a small room trying to converse.  I felt like a bump on a log and disappointment shattered my confidence in the language barrier.

When one of the women named Paloma said, “Visitar Nuevo York?” I stared at her without any idea what she said.
“...visitar?”  I said, finally recognizing the word translating “to visit.”
All eyes turned toward me expectantly.
AlI could say again was, visitar?  Haha I finally figured out they wanted to know if I’d ever visited New York.  When I answered yes, they all seemed pleased that I could understand them.

My head was spinning by the time we left this sweet lady, whose house was filled with photographs on every wall, every table and piece of furniture.  Wedding photos, baptismal photos and sporadic pieces of their lives looked out from wooden frames to give me a glimpse of her past.  When I stood up to leave, she held my hand and wouldn’t let it go as she pointed again to my iPad where I’d shown her my family tree photos.  She was stunned to read the names and see photos about her grandmother Antonia Ruiz Garcia’s brother Francisco Ruiz and sister Delores, whom she was undoubtedly named for.  I loved the photo I saw of Lola as a young girl.
Sadly, she did not have a photo of her grandmother Antonia...but my cousin told me she has one more cousin to ask...maybe I will return home with a photo of the missing Antonia after all.  Paloma
snapped another photo of her grandmother Lola with me and Maria Ángela, the cousin who has been so diligent and eager to help piece together our Ruiz family for me.
Until then, my plan for Thursday is to drive to La Cala Del Moral by the coast to find my rental house.  I’ll miss Lyn, the swimming pool, Scamp and Scally and the peaceful tranquillity of Los Nuñez, but I’ll be back again soon.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Spanish roads are stomach twisters

Today was a lazy day and I must admit that getting in and out of the pool and then slipping into the lounge chair as my swimsuit dripped onto the patio was some of my Tuesday excitement.  I’m half way through my third book and feel very peaceful...  As I begin my blog tonight, it’s 9:00 pm already as Lyn and I have been chatting after dinner.  She just filled my wine glass with rosé.  We are both glad to be home from Benalmádena after picking up her new laptop computer.  (My eyes nearly bugged out when I saw all the Microsoft Office programs that her internet tech loaded for her.)

Since it was a lazy day, I must say the gist of today’s blog will be about Spanish roads.  First of all, the main road is the A7, which connects most of the large towns along the coast from Almería on the east to beyond Marbella and Gibraltar on the west coast.  I know it might go farther, but I’ve not followed it beyond Gibraltar.

There is a road between the A7 and where I now sit that I call the “monster” road.  It is a small paved road that snakes along the riverbed from Puerto de la Torre downward towards Los Nuñez.  It has always made my stomach hurt whether I turn sharply to go UP the road toward the A7 roundabout connection or head downward after the roundabout to go back to the round house.  There have been times when my brother Steven has driven the road that I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t driving.  There were times when my friend Steven Alonzo was driving (I tried to warn him, but I don’t think he believed me until he was actually on the road behind the wheel.). And then there were times (last week) when I started winding down the road on my own.  Spanish drivers do not slow down, even when they see me coming.  I think there are five or six blind curves where I slow down to about 10 mph or stop, fearful of what I’ll encounter when I make the turn.  Last week, I was thrilled that I encountered only one man walking along the crazy road and one bicycle.

Today, when Lyn drove us back home from Benalmádena, my stomach was in my throat a few times and I told her that tonight’s blog was about the road that I call the monster road.  The road twists and turns and in some places it is barely wide enough for two Volkswagens or smart cars to maneuver along side each other.  Lyn has a van.  I counted seven cars that were coming at us on crazy turns and blind curves.  I held my breath, my stomach tightened up and whoosh, I let out a loud breath as the cars tootled by us.  And that’s when we started encountering the bicyclists, each wearing a helmet, tight little race pants, water bottles, cell phones and riding three or four abreast in places.  By then,
my heart was hammering because this road doesn’t widen until we are nearly to the end before Los Nuñez, where I am staying with Lyn.

Needless to say, she drove like a champ and drove us home safely where Scamp and Scally jumped and yapped uproariously when they saw me jump out of the van to open the gate so Lyn could drive down the drive. They knew food would be forthcoming and I was counting my steps until I found the wine.

Monday, July 29, 2019

A Comical Dilemma

I believe there are a million roundabouts in Spain.  Some are very artistic like this one.

Today was the day for Lyn to find a new laptop.  She’d been putting it off because of the little panicky feeling of learning how to use a new one. She Skypes with her friend Saidie in the UK every day and must use headphones to hear her because she lost audio some time ago.  When I saw that she had an external keyboard abutted in front of her laptop, I assumed it was because the smaller keyboard on the laptop wasn’t sufficient.  Nope —- it was because she’d spilled water on the keyboard and it died.  Some days the cursor doesn’t work or jots out letters without touching the keyboard.  Yesterday, it crashed a bit, so she gave in.  I promised her I could be her teacher, so let’s do it.

We found one in Malaga and then Lyn called her computer tech in Benalmádena.
Lyn: If I buy a new computer, can you transfer my old data?
Ramón: Yes, I can do that for 40 euros.
Lyn: Do you also sell new computers?
Ramón: Yes, I do.
Lyn: That’s good.  We will drive over there before you close at 2:00.
Unfortunately, when we got there, we found that yes, he could sell her one, but only from online and it would take 2-3 days for the laptop to arrive in his shop, and then another day to transfer the data.  Big sigh.
It was decided that we ‘d return to Malaga, buy the laptop and return to Ramón's shop at 5:00.

 Ow that the computer issue was nearly solved except for the trip back to Malaga, we were hot, hungry, thirsty and our feet were talking to us. But first, since we had three hours, we looked for a café.  Across the street from a Pablo Ruiz Picasso Museum, we slid into a cozy, shaded outdoor café and were soon drinking our beer and tinto verano.  The menu was covered in photos, so we decided to share a plate of grilled swordfish along with a mixed salad.
The waiter stood beside us with pencil poised...

Lyn: We are going to share the swordfish and this salad, she said and pointed to the photos. 5,90 euros for the salad and 9,95 euros for the fish.
Waiter: Sí, share swordfish and ensalada mixta, he repeated.
He brought us the usual bowl of bread, two plates etc and then returned with a huge bowl of salad filled with lettuce, tomatoes, boiled eggs, white asparagus, tuna, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, corn kernels, olives and shredded carrots.  We were stunned with the size.

Lyn:  Do you think he’s trying to pull a fast one on us by putting two salads in the bowl and
pretending he hasn’t understood?  This is huge!
Me:  Yes it is, but aren’t these tiny olive oil and vinegar pots cute?
The  salad was delicious, but before we finished it, he brought the plate with the largest piece of grilled swordfish we’d ever seen, more salad and potatoes.   

Our eyes rounded and we shook our heads.  The man surely doubled our order.  Lyn looked at other people’s plates to compare their sizes with our own.  And they didn’t measure up to the size of ours.  We ate, and ate and ate some more.  And then, we discussed whether we should act shocked when he brought the bill for nearly $40 euros and argue with him, or play dumb and shake the fellow up a little.  She’d heard that a lot of tourists get cheated like this on the coast.  Our dilemma was giving us a little grief because we really did not know how to react.  When Lyn asked for our bill, he smiled
and brought it to us in a little payment dish.

When I showed it to her, we were both stunned.  The dishes were truly only for one person and the bill totaled 20, 5 euros.

We laughed at the silliness of our conversations, paid the bill and started walking back to the car for our second trip back to Malaga.  We rehashed our crazy thoughts and laughed some more.

It was lovely to get home again.  Scally and Scamp greeted us as if we’d been gone a week, ready for their food.  Lyn always toasts bread for them as an appetizer and spreads paté over the toast for them.  When I heard her talking soothingly to Scamp as she gave her the snack, I couldn’t help but take a photo.  She surely loves her dogs and takes sweet care of them.

And then it was time to jump into the swimming pool.  I’ve been trying to think of all the living expenses I can sacrifice in order to have my own swimming pool, en casa, at home in Arizona. As Darla noticed, I’m definitely going to miss it.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

RUIZ Cousins and a slow day

 My day started slow and easy, which was Roberto’s mantra for me when in Spain.  Today, I listened.  Trying to carry my own weight here, I swept up debris and then grabbed my book.  Neatly  ensconced next to the swimming pool, I slipped on dark glasses and readied for a nice long read in book #3 since I arrived.  Yes, slow and easy is good.  A few chapters later plus a few naps and swishes in the pool, it was time to drive down the road to my cousins.

There was Juani Ruiz and Mari Fernandez and their children whose surnames were RUIZ Fernandez: Angela and José María, Margari and Antonio, Juan Jose and Maria plus six grandchildren.  It was time for almorzar, sweets and coffee mid way through the day before the late evening meal.  When Margari unwrapped the bakery papery, my eyes did a jig.  Lovely.
Over coffee and postres, I kicked my Spanish into second gear and we pulled out the cell phones to look at the translation APPS.  I learned that chumbos were fruits from pear cactus.  Angela cut one open and gave me the first piece of fruit.  I was hesitant and I could see she was surprised since she knows I’m an adventurous at heart.  So, I popped it into my mouth.  Yum!  I explained that my pear cactus at home had attacked me and I was still trying to pull out the stickers, which Spaniards call pinchares, not necessarily how it’s spelled, only how it sounded today to me.

I learned that Antonio and José were cousins who married these sisters, Angela and Margari.  Then, I told them their name, Nadales, was one of my family ancestral names.  Everyone had a laugh.  Juani told me he had chickens to make eggs, and roosters in “El campo” which is an adjacent plot of land where he grows about 100 olive trees, pear cactus and other trees I can’t remember.  His eyes light up when he speaks of the farm.

The baby of the family is Aurora below in the red fiesta flamenco dress.  Loved it.

The next generation of cousins were fun to watch and very well behaved.  Ages from two to nearly thirteen.  One girl, María, I’d met in 2012 when she was a shy tiny girl of five.  Now, she is up to my shoulder and her grandma Mari, was painting her fingernails she when I arrived.  The children are all beautiful: Ruben, Ivan, Maria, Valeria, Antonia and Aurora.

The family seemed to meld together as one, joking with one another, each filling a part of the Ruiz family puzzle.  I was astonished at the way the children played together and chatted quietly. I did laugh when baby Aurora had been told to kiss Patrícia goodbye by her mother, Margari and then about ten minutes later, the group was still getting things together to exit the party.  At last, the child was picked up by daddy Antonio, who admonished Aurora to kiss Patrícia goodbye.  She didn’t argue, marched over and smooched me and then headed for the door, saying, “vamos ahora!” ( Let’s go now.)  still makes me smile.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

I found the umbrellas

Before I arrived in Spain, I saw a photo of umbrellas high  above a Village plaza in the Costa Del Sol near Malaga.  I found the beauties in the white village of Torrox. I looked at the map and told Lynn we needed to have a day trip. Today was the day, and oh how beautiful it is.

Our first view of the hilltop village was spectacular, and I guessed the plaza might be near the center area.  MINI Lola climbed upward, clung to the serpentine curves and drove us up the narrow streets and then we saw the umbrellas! Every color of the rainbow could be seen from the street, but no parking spaces.  I maneuvered Lola downward, saw un underground parking lot by the police station and then we started walking upward again.  Lyn saw steps that seemed to go up several levels, but I wanted to walk the street where I was sure the umbrellas waited.  It turned out we were both right.

We passed a tiny plaza near another tile-lined stairwell, named for Pablo Ruiz Picasso before we started our ascent.  The umbrellas beckoned us from there and then we were beneath them.  They billowed above us, swinging in the slight breeze as if to welcome us.  We were mesmerized...and then hungry.
We found several outdoor cafes at the end of the plaza, which we learned was Plaza de Constitución.  One café offered seven (7) tapas and a beer or wine for ten euros.  Lyn didn’t look excited about it after walking through the patrons and looking over their tapas nonchalantly.  Haha - so we moved on.  We both agreed La Casa Bar was perfect on a cozy patio, so we soon had food, her beer and my tinto verano.  Then, we watched people and continued to smile up at all the gloriously colored umbrellas that were open and suspended on long wires above the plaza to diffuse the sun.  Amazing.

Afterward, we walked up and down the tiny village streets, took photos of doorways, patios and unique tiles steps that seemed to go upward on and on.  It was hot and we were tired, but we were not done for our day yet.  My friend Cristóbal Navas Pérez sent me a text while we were eating to suggest we see the beautiful village of Frigiliana, about twenty minutes further east.  So, that’s what we did.  

Frigiliana was easy to find above the coast, I drove Lola to the underground car park without a snag, and then we started walking.  The hills had streets made of small, round stones that were artistically embedded on the streets and abutted to the shops with narrow sidewalks.  It reminded me of Córdoba, where the moors left their distinct mark with their stonework and beautiful gardens.

After an hour of leisurely walking along the many streets, we were parched and found a quaint plaza across from a church.  And a wedding party was dodging all around us.  The church bell clanged at 4:00, all the beautifully dressed men in suits along with their women in spiked heels, pretty dresses and fascinating hats perched on the heads, entered the church.  As we drank our beverages, along came a black car and all the gorgeous bridesmaids crawled out.  A few moments later, came the bride and daddy.  Beautiful.

Lola drove us home again, Lyn fed the dogs, cleaned the leaves out of the pool and we jumped in.  I am definitely going to miss this pool.  Another sweet day here in Spain.
TOMORROW, family time with Angela Ruiz Fernandez and the big family.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Connecting with Venta Gloria

Venta Gloria is a family-run restaurant/bar/event venue owned and managed by my cousin, Pedro Ruiz a couple of miles from la casa redonda, the round house.  When I met him the first time in 2012, he was obviously delighted to see my brother, Steven, walk in the double doors.  He must have recognized that we were from the same family because his first words to Steven after,”como está?” was “tu hermana?” (Your sister?). After that point, he’s been one of the favorites in the area as well as his family, plus Paco the bartender, and Andres the server/bartender.  Paco’s wife is the cook.  Laura Ruiz tried to teach me to dance flamenco 💃🏻 and Elisa Ruiz was happy to practice English with me. When I asked for Tempranillo wine, he shook his finger at me and grinned.  “No, no, mi favorito es Ribeiro de Duero.”  (a deep red wine).  From that day forward, each time I see him, he raises his eyebrows and says, “tu favorito vino?”  (Your favorite wine?). And I always nod yes.  It is a delightful treat to see him and the Venta Gloria people again.  Pedro cannot speak one word of English, “okay.”  Unfortunately, he was not there tonight, but the other señors were there...  

Andrés gave us the kiss on each cheek kisses and brought us a small plate of those beautiful Spanish olives with pits and a bowl of bread...with our Spanish wine.  The dinner consisted of eggplant slices dripping with dark sugar cane honey, gambas pil pil, which is shrimp drenched in olive oil, my pig cheeks called carrillada that I first testad in Sevilla and then conejo, rabbit! 

Earlier today, I lounged beside the pool after helping Lynn sweep all the patios. She, however, was back to trimming the avocado tree and other trees down there all by herself on a very steep hill. I worry that she will slip. But she tells me that she is in control. I swept up the leaves and branches, weaving my way around the balcony,  and swished everything onto the gardens below. 

Our amazing lunch smelled so good!  Lyn called it the poor man’s meal, or plato de los montañas: chorizo, baked potatoes in oil and baked peppers.  Lovely!  For dessert, she brought me a tin of flan made with milk.  It was also very good.  She is treating me like such an honored guest. 

 Later Lyn left for her meeting regarding her choir, Scally and scamp did not know what to do because they were so confused. So when I return to the pool they both sat down next to me and stared at me.  I swear their imploring eyes spoke to me; it was the strangest thing. They are such nice dogs, and look completely different from one another and yet they are sisters from the same litter.

Clouds kept the hot sun corralled for a few hours today and a breeze moved the air.  Sometimes, I sit in the lounge chair with my book and stare into forever with trees, flowers, trailing vines and the sound of birds, roosters and doves as company.  Lyn and I share a lovely camaraderie as we read our books in the shade, step in and out of the pool and chat.  She was right when she promised if I came to visit her in Spain, that I might find peace from within.  Lyn helps me face my grief from her own widow’s viewpoint and her soothing words have lifted me up.  Feeling this glorious space around me has given me a new sense of being me.  

Tomorrow is a short road trip and I’m trusting Lola to get us to Torrox and back.  

Thursday, July 25, 2019

The Garcia family link...

Thanks to my friend, Miguel Alba, I now have three more birth documents for the Garcia family.  The antique books are over 150 years old and I was surprised that we weren’t asked to wear gloves to turn the thin pages..which are filled with documents with indexes to the names...

The good news is that we found, Salvador, Rosalia and Dolores.  The bad news is we couldn’t find  Rafael Garcia Villarrubia, my ancestor.  I know he was widowed with a small daughter named Francesca, and he immigrated to Argentina to remarry and have another family.  Somewhere in my family tree he is part of my great, great grandmother Maria Garcia García’s family.

And then, while still in the small room that had shelves filled with antique books, Miguel read the baptismal document again that my Garcia cousin had shared with me and found that when Rafael was born, the family lived in a place called Hacienda de Almellones.

I could see the excitement on Miguel’s face, but with the language barrier, I was lost.  But not for long as he led me quickly to the parking garage and a grin again.

I got ahead of myself.  Before we returned to the parking garage, he had led me up several flights of stairs at the ayuntamiento, which is equivalent to a city hall, and he found a man to further our quest.  The man’s last name was Garcia, so he was interested in finding my Garcia family also.  He looked at his computer and within seconds, we saw a real map of a small barriada, called Almellones.  At one time, the area was a finca, or very large vineyard.  My Garcia relative was either the jefe (owner) or a worker.  He told us that all the Garcías who lived in that these families were related to me.  I was stunned.

Then, Miguel and I followed the map, found the area and he started yelling, “hola?” over and over again.  A man came out to see what the racket was about, who I later found A possible Garcia cousin, Manolo García Lopez.  My head was spinning already from speaking Spanish, so finding this man and knowing the Garcías lived all around where I stood in that hamlet, made me realize how much I love this family research.  When I thanked Miguel effusively, he grinned and said he loved it too. 

Soon afterward, we met Miguel’s wife Isabel who he calls Isa and his middle son, Alfonso at a chiringuito, which is a restaurant on the beach where we can slip our toes in the sand, which I did immediately.  Boquerones, pulpa, rosada (deep fried anchovy’s, squid and white fish)and deep-fried vegetables, wine, conversation and smiles took us away u til nearly 4:00.  I loved every moment.

I got in Lola and drove back to Los Nuñez without a snag.  Sadly, I ended up missing my visit with Angela Ruiz and her family because when I got “home,” I got into the pool and then promptly fell into a heavy sleep in the lounge chair...She was very sweet as I apologized after telling her I hadn’t realized how exhausted my research day had been.  We have another date for Sunday with their family.

Tomorrow is a free day and I’m sure all of you can imagine where I’ll be spending my lazy day...

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Coín, Spain and more friends

Today, I drove MINI Lola to a town about twenty miles away, where Lyn introduced me to her friend Patrícia, who prefers to be called Tricia...and her husband, Michael.  The road was smooth until I turned on the dirt road that led to their beautiful home where the mountains and view from the back patio took my breath away.  They are also English, like Lyn, and I had to listen carefully for their accents were all three a bit different.  They had a sweet love story to tell and their camaraderie made me smile.

With promises of a swim in their glorious swimming pool when we returned, Michael drove us to a hidden gem of a restaurant high in the hills called Finca la Mota, where we enjoyed a late lunch about 3:30, with tinto verano for me (🍷) and beer and cider for the others.  The smoked salmon was delicious with the crispy, tiny potato fries grilled into a birds nest of a patty.  The plate included a small bowl of something white.  Mayonnaise?  I slipped the tip of my fork into the creamy tub and had a surprise.  Horseradish!!

As it usually is in Spain, every meal is served at leisure, slow and easy as Roberto used to say.  No rush anywhere and again, as usual, we had to request the tab to pay our bill.  The relaxing atmosphere and soft-spoken servers added magic to the meal and our conversation never wavered.

I was surprised when I got up to see the restaurant patio was empty, when every table had been filled with people just a few minutes earlier.  Time sped by.

And then true to their promised, Lyn and I changed into our swimsuits (swimming costume as Lyn calls it) and then we were in the pool.  Queen palms and other strategically placed palms and flowering bushes added to the ambience.  One of the steps extended along the back pool wall to create a bench.  “To drink at the pool,” Michael suggested.

The time got away from us and Lyns dogs, Scamp and Scally, would be hungry.  So, a quick stop on the drive home, Lyn guided me around several roundabouts to a gas station.  Just as I did in Arizona, I slid my credit card into the slot, punched all the buttons and then the machine asked for a PIN number. For a credit card?  After three tries, Lyn found an attendant who led me to a machine that looked like an ATM.  I slid in a 10 euro note, fed Lola some gas and off we went.

Tomorrow, I will meet my friend Miguel Alba Trujillo so he can help me go through the archive books looking for Rafael Garcia Villarrubia, one of my ancestors, in Rincon de la Victoria, on the east side beyond Malaga.  That’s why I wanted to practice driving Lola today.  I intend to be sly and ask Miguel to help me fill her gas tank, but this time I’ll use my debit card.  Many new things to learn because I seem to have forgotten since my last visit!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Lure of Almogía


One of my favorite white villages is Almogía in the province of Malaga, just a few miles from where I am staying in the barriada of Los Nuñez.  It was in Almogía that my great grandfather, Francisco RUIZ Garcia was a math tutor (I didn’t get his math genes).  Each time I have walked the narrow, stone-laden streets, I left the village with more information stuffed in my head.  Today was another mind-bending day.  Lyn drove me up the mountain to help me find the cemetery (cementerio) because I’ve been focused on the sister of my great grandfather.  Her name was Antonia RUIZ Garcia.  I know when and where she was born and where she died.  Her great granddaughter tells me she is buried in Almogia.  I had never been to the cemetery there.  The information has not been digitized, so all the old documents are in antique books, locked in a cabinet inside the archives of the town hall, the juzgado.  My new Spanish friend was eager to help me and Lyn and said I could look through the books, but only if I knew Antonia’s date of death within five years.  Big sigh.

We walked down the deep incline to the cemetery to read the plaques in each niche, hoping to find her name.  It is different in Spain, where a “hole in the wall” stores the body behind a cement wall.  It cannot be opened for five years to put in another family member.  The prior inhabitant’s bones are removed and the newly buried person is placed into the niche.  Another body.  Another cement door.  Another five years to wait to add to it.  In this way, many of the plaques list several family members.  It was fascinating to learn this strange burial law.  In order to retain the family member in the niche, the owner or descendant pays 100 euros rent in full to fund the five years plus money for a special memorial ceremony.  To keep the family member in the niche, it is 20 euros per year until a new body is put in.  If the money isn’t paid, their family member’s bones are removed.

We viewed about 1,600 inches as we looked for my ancestor’s names.  And we found the descendants of Antonia RUIZ Garcia, but her name was not listed.  We were drenched in sweat and our aching legs took us back to the car...Lyn and I needed water and a swim.  My, genealogy research is exciting, exhausting and exhilarating.  Lyn is very sweet to go right along with me each step of the way.

Tomorrow, we have a lunch date in a nearby town with her choir friend also named Patricia.  As I finish today’s blog, she is cooking chicken and other foods as the delicious aromas permeate through the house.  Did we swim?  Yes.  Did we snooze beside the pool?  Yes.  Did we read our books?  Yes.  As Roberto would say, “life is sweet.”

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mediterránea Statue: Hola again

She saw me coming and laughed when I crawled up onto the base where she stood with her arms outspread.  Lyn had the camera and I mimicked the statue again today like I did in 2017 for my brother, Steven and again in 2018 for my friend, also named Steven. And again, I chose to cover myself a bit more...AND by now, of course she recognized me and I felt like I’d truly returned.  This statue is named Lady of the Sea and she stands on the promenade at Fuengirola, Costa del Sol. Her sculptor - Luis Reyes, January 2003.  To me, she is the epitome of a free spirit.  Today as well as the first time I first saw her, I felt part of the wonder and soul of Spain.

Walking back to the car along the boardwalk, I saw several women topless and smiled at the idea, noticing that nobody paid much attention.  It’s so normal over here.  The most I’ve done is skinny dipped in Lyns pool in the dark with only stars for company.

I also enjoyed all the espetos, which are sticks holding fish above smoldering fires made inside small row boats fired up with olive wood.

Lyn drove me to a shopping mall called Miramar and we went to a tapas café where I opened little glass doors and pulled out several tapas for my plate.  Oh, Lord a Lucy, it was amazing.  There was lox on top of cream cheese above a flat roll, salmorejo cold soups with egg and ham and a baby croissant filled with ham spread. And Lyn shared a taste of her potato salad topped with anchovies.  Not for me, but my choices?.  Wonderful. Wonderful.

A trip to the ALDI Grocery store was  I felt like a child in a toy store.  Lyn was tootling around with the cart finding coffee, tinto verano wine and things...and I was taking photos of eels, spinach burgers, carrot burgers and more.

 By then, we’d walked over 7,500 steps and the swimming pool was calling.  And we answered it’s siren call.  Ahhhhhhhh, the lovely rejuvenation of cool water and relaxation.