Saturday, August 23, 2014
With Nevil Shute and Chris Rea
Maggie's Mitsu is nine years old but Miitsubishi Spain phoned us about getting a software update. I suspect that they have come across some sort of fault but when I asked they said it was nothing more than customer support. Anyway we agreed to get it done at a dealer in San Juan which is the next coastal town along from Alicante city.
So we were at the beach. Now I don't care much for the beach. I'm obese so taking off most of my clothes and displaying myself for all and sundry to see in a public place is not something I do willingly. Add to that the fact that beaches are often made of sand. Sand is a powdery substance but the individual grains are usually hard quartz. This sand not only gets into your sandwiches and your hair it sneaks into every nook and crevice of your body no matter how intimate. I was eating sand all the way home. I generally keep out of the water too. I quite like water but as I wear contact lenses I always fear that they will be swept away to sea. Anyway what do you do about the bag with your wallet and mobile phone? Like shrouds there are no pockets in swimwear - well no waterproof ones at least.
Going to the beach though is a Spanish passion. I don't think that Spaniards behave particularly differently on the beach to us or the Germans or anyone else. There are the young ones who turn up with the minimum of equipment - towels, suncream, a book and the mobile phone and the three generational family groups who arrive with a veritable encampment - chairs, sunshades, windbreaks, beach games and an epicurean feast packed into coolboxes. Fat, old men and women queue up early in the morning on the busy beaches waiting for the beach cleaners to finish their work. At the off they head for the waterline and set up chairs and sunshades to bag their spot, which the families will later occupy, before heading back to their summer digs for a leisurely breakfast. Towels and Germans spring to mind.
If we are away from home and we tell Spaniards that we live in Alicante they always presume we live on the coast. They will congratulate us on the quality of the Costa Blanca beaches. Ask my students where they went over the weekend and the answer is to the beach. Question the families of Alicante or Murcia as to whether they have a summer house at the beach and the answer will almost certainly be that someone in their family does. Turn on the TV and go channel hopping and you will find a programme where people are being interviewed about their beach experiences.
The tourist figures are up for Spain. Once again it's tourism that's the motor for the economy. Where are those tourists heading - the landscapes of Galicia and Aragon, the marvellous Andalucian or Salmantino cities? No, they're headed for the beaches of Catalunya, Andalucia and the Islands. The Sunday supplements may be full of the voguish delights of rural tourism but it's on the beaches where it's standing room only.