Spain, June 2017

Day 1
A long awaited trip back to Murcia. Everything is booked but I’m still nervous. Precise planning does not a smooth trip make – well, if my track record is anything to go by. There has to be some twists, turns and a few characters…

And I’m off…

Erratic drivers. Pedestrians with a death wish. Small children screaming. Sweltering heat. Sweat dripping off me. Clothes stuck to my back. Jumping over small children and avoiding large obstacles as I check in at one Terminal and have to leg it to the other Terminal to depart. Ordering a flat white on route and being told “That’s a small Cappuccino…actually…”

And I’m not even at the Departure Gates…

And I’m there-ish…

So I arrived and headed off site to collect the rental car. Then the mayhem began. Little thanks to ‘Beryl’ who relinquished her title of ‘trusty’ in front of Sat Nav. The minute she was let lose, she was like a little lamb frolicking in a field. She brought me back to the airport and into a section where I needed a ticket to exit. With no ticket, I had to reverse through on-coming cars, crunch over some hidden bollards and exit via a section marked for buses only. I expected to see a stream of blue lights flashing in my wake but not this time.

Out on the motorway, Beryl got bored easily and decided to veer off and take us on a tour of some mighty fine industrial sites. Back on the motorway, she quickly had enough and took me off again – this time for a scenic tour of some lovely lemon groves.

When we eventually arrived, Beryl was not impressed. Obviously she didn’t like what she saw as she tried to convince me to head back in the direction of the airport. She flatly refused to tell me where the hotel was. I switched her off and made my own way there. She can stay switched off until she learns to behave.

I arrived later than planned but found a sun lounger and enjoyed the last few hours of sunlight for the day. Nice dinner. Some gins and now bed beckons.

I also realised why my foot was so ‘ouchy’ when I arrived at the airport. Two of my toes are broken – again. Drumroll please – that means I have now broken a total of 8 toes on the one foot. Go me!

Day 2
Today passed off largely without incident. This is in no small part due to the fact that Beryl has been decommissioned (the technological equivalent of grounding my disoriented sat nav).

Spent most of the day horizontal on a sun lounger popping freckles like a mad aul wan. And while basting myself regularly, have a burn mark across my Celtic pasty face which resembles butterfly mask. Red heads are not built to tan.

I went exploring. Four shoe shops later and nothing. It doesn’t matter how cute the heel, the cut or the colour, this gal doesn’t do sandals of which there was a multitude to choose from.

My evening ended with a performance in the Pharmacy where I requested much needed anti histamine through interpretative dance. And pretty crap I was too. After he loaded the counter with every cough syrup known to man, I’d to rely on Google translate to ease the situation.

But tomorrow’s another day!

Day 3
More sunbathing. It’s a tiring activity but someone has to do it. Swam a bit too. Am beside two beautiful coastlines – one onto the Mediterranean and the other a mineral inlet. Alas, their collective beauty does little to woo me. I simply can’t get past the fact that I loathe sand.

I dragged my crispy body through the heat and propelled myself into my favourite shoe shop. Five minutes, and three pairs of shoes, later, I emerged. One pair is ‘functional’ while the other two are ‘lovely’. ‘Total spend…? €27.45. Yes. You did read that correctly. €27.45 for all three!

Day 4
It’s 26 degrees and cloudy. This means the ‘northern Europeans’ are happily lying out while the fully clothed Spanish look on, mystified, from the Bar.

Not for the first time, a man tries to control his screaming child with a bunch of techniques – which include hissing, clicking his fingers as if it were a dog and reasoning with it as if it were a U.N. official. Get up, you lazy shit. He’s barely one year old and driving the rest of us mental as he cries and cries and cries for a cuddle.

I am badly burnt in some places. In all the places I used the highest factor… At this stage, all I am aiming for is a ‘winter’ tan – neck, face and hands!

Day 5
It’s 26 degrees and raining. Now everyone is in the Bar, fully clothed, staring out, mystified, while dripping sweat from the humidity.

I could go exploring again but I did that yesterday. Drove for miles and miles and miles. No mean feat for a gal who drives an automatic on the left, now driving a stick, on the right, and with broken toes!

I visited the land of shoes (otherwise known as ‘Cartagena’). Resisted going into any shops as they would all be screaming at me to buy them while my suitcase would be roaring back “I. Don’t. Think. So!” Instead I sat on a pretty square drinking a large coffee and a water and, with parking, still got change from a fiver!

Today, those around me would not suspect…I have a swimsuit under this dress. I am a Super Hero waiting to break free! If the rain holds off, I will be sitting on that lounger reading and snoring. Better that than drowning in my own sweat from all the humidity. After all, I am a fearless bastard!

Day 5
Last night. Five nights and six days is the absolute max I can tolerate my own company. It’s been swell though. Lots of reading, good food and yummy alcohol. I’m now watching Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Bates on the telly box – fierce good at the Spanish so they are. I opted for the Spanish channels after enduring the only English language channel which ran a (very lengthy) documentary on the price of Spam in South Korea…

I am lying here coated head to toe in a gorgeous concoction of aloe vera and after sun because I so don’t want to feel the burn. I’m tomato red. I used a new suntan lotion and report that it was not a success. I reckon slathering myself in beef dripping would have provided more protection. Awful stuff!

I will miss lazing by the pool. I will not miss the chorus of voices calling “Meeeeeee – qweeeeeeeelllll” as the toddler with the face of an aul fella legs it here, there and everywhere!

Day 6
Heading towards the airport now and as the song goes – ‘back to life, back to reality’…

And what did I learn on this holiday?

– when a small toddler called ‘Meeeee-gwelllll is joined by a toddler of equal stature and speed called “Maaaaaaan-welllllll”, the fun is over

– it doesn’t matter how much care I take, I still burn like the red head I am

– Larios gin is one step up from drinking nail varnish remover

– many men of varying ages, and degrees of wrinkling, are way too happy encasing their meagre offerings in a pair of Speedos

– the Spanish moan about humidity the same way the Irish whinge about the weather (including an elderly woman emerging from the lift roaring “Oh my God, Oh my God! The humidity! The humidity!” before collapsing into the arms of her daughter (I suspect she only travelled two floors…)

– far too many young fellas can’t put their arms down straight by their sides due to excessive weight lifting

– sympathizing with me about the state of my face is mistaking hideous sunburn for the effects of humidity

– with my pasty skin, and my ability to tan like a Dalmatian, I will never be mistaken for Spanish or any race living within an ass’s roar of the Mediterranean

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