A particularly vivid memory of mine from when we had our old house in Marbella (which was a bit higher up the mountain), was waking up in the middle of the night and smelling fire – it was so strong that I was sure the house was burning down. I had staggered out of bed and inspected the whole place, but couldn’t find even a spark, so in the end I took myself back to bed and decided that I must have dreamed it (or just drank too much red wine, which I didn’t think I had). In the morning, I got up and investigated again as the smell was even stronger, but this time, and still not being able to find any sign of fire, I decided to go up to the roof terrace, where we had a 360 degree view of the whole area around us. The scariest sight awaited me – the whole area of the terrace (and I mean all 30 m2 or so) was about 8 cm deep in ash.
First, then, I debated how to clear it all away (since it wasn’t actually hot or burning) and then, having sorted that, I went back down and switched on the TV to find out that half of the mountain around the back of us was on fire, even though, at that point, I couldn’t see any sign of it (only the usual blue sky and sunshine. It reminded me of being in Prague during the floods, when from our apartment all we could see was a normal summer day, with no rain or sign of water, whilst the floods raged around half of the country).
I was thinking about this when we drove in from Malaga airport last week and along the motorway were warning signs on the electronic information systems, advising that we should ‘beware of fire’. I’m not quite sure what we would have done had one suddenly appeared at the side of the road (as apparently happened to people last time – and as could be seen by all of the scorched earth either side of the motorway for a couple of years), but it was a warning that it was going to be HOT once we got here – and sure enough, it has been bloody boiling.
One thing that goes with the risk of fire in the mountains is the fairly constant noise of fire planes going over on particularly hot days – if you haven’t seen one, they are pretty dramatic… big yellow beasts that look like old bombers and sweep down into the sea as if they are going to land, fill up with water and then head off into the hills. I find them a bit fascinating, so at the moment there is a lot to watch!
What there is also a lot of due to the extreme heat, is the Marbella wildlife – back at our house, we were greeted on arrival, as mentioned before, by four cockroaches (two in the bedroom, for God’s sake, and two in the main bathroom – needless to say, they were dealt with pretty quickly, but it is not easy going to sleep, knowing that there is a risk of another visitor during the night….), a lot of ants (and yes, I know I said I am a bit fascinated by ants, and I am… but outside, not in the living room and kitchen (this reminds of my horse days, when I once had a rat run over my boot in the stables and didn’t even bat an eyelid… whereas even the news that we might have had a rat in the vicinity of the house a few years ago was enough to make me consider putting it on the market), mosquitos and gekkos I can cope with the gekkos, but mosquitos – what possible reason do mosquitos have for existing, other than making our lives a misery?
Despite all of that, we are having fun – it is so nice to be here and not have to worry about anything back in Prague (hopefully) and to have a flight back (also hopefully) – and to be able to see all the people that we missed last time (or saw, but in different circumstances). The only downside for me is that I still can’t run or play tennis (but have visited the club to at least watch it a bit and see my Juan), whilst for Jan I would say that it is the wearing of a mask at all times that is getting him down. Not because he finds them uncomfortable (even in 40 degrees heat this afternoon we managed to walk along the beach and not faint to the floor (as some people in the UK are suggesting could happen due to the lack of oxygen.. my arse…. I read all the comments that people make in the UK about the pros and cons of wearing one (as if no-one else in the world has considered these things in the past) and really do wonder what their problem is… just put one on and get on with it) but he objects to being ‘ruled’ in this way….. despite that, him being a ‘solicitor of the Supreme Court’ ensures that he does do as he is told (on this) so, for now, we are managing it.
We kind of have to manage it anyway, as the Spanish authorities have employed something like 40,000 former police/army/other people to become ‘mask feds’ (as Jan calls them) – they can be seen on the beaches and around the streets, dressed up in blue shorts, white T shirts, white baseball caps and red bags (and masked to the eyeballs, obviously) and are very visible – they spend their days stopping people who should be wearing a mask and are not – what we have noticed, though, is that if you appear to be exercising (which seems to be based on if you are wearing trainers) then you don’t need one… so you can be overweight and smoking a fag, but no need for a mask as you are clearly training (due to the shoes), whereas if you are wearing flip flops and marching along in a rippling muscle and fit way, you are clearly heading to the beach or out for a stroll, and should be wearing one. I don’t want to be mean as this is clearly a good idea (and something for the UK to think about?) but… a bit daft in places…..
To finish, and talking of walking along the beach, we were just jumping about in the waves in a small ‘cove-type area’ before leaving to come home this afternoon, when a tall dark stranger came running past us, barefoot, and in a very familiar running style…. he went on a bit further and then turned around and headed back towards us, and sure enough, to Jan’s absolute ecstasy, it was Nole (Djokovic)… all those weeks of lockdown when we knew he was here, but couldn’t get to see him… and now, here he was. What a result!