IT’S that time of the year again on the Costas that all residents dread.
The time when merely nipping out to the shops to get a few bits and pieces can turn into something resembling the trials and tribulations of Job. Welcome to the High Season.
It traditionally runs from mid-July to the end of August, and it’s enough to rattle the most tolerant of residents. I know we should all be grateful for the annual influx of tourists that helps the local economy but it comes at a high price.
Over the coming weeks I strongly advise you to take up whatever anti-stress techniques work best for you: deep breathing exercises, meditation, a large G and T before 11, that kind of thing. Trust me – you will need it.
Little things, such as grabbing a coffee in your local, take on a whole new dynamic. You need razor-sharp elbow skills and the low cunning of the ‘French front row’ to get to the bar. If you decide on a terrace table, you may need to let off the odd flare to get the hassled waiter’s attention. And, be warned; you may find yourself next to a group of beer-sozzled Brits who have been sinking pints since breakfast.
When my old rugby team came on tour to Marbella a couple of years ago, I put them in a hotel that caters for stag parties, hen parties and golfers. Over the next few (admittedly bleary and beery) days, I made good friends with the hotel bar staff, who would begin pulling pints from 8am. To a man, they all had what Vietnam Vets referred to as the ‘Thousand Yard Stare’, from seeing too much, too young.
Talking of Vietnam, if you want to witness an accurate reconstruction of the American withdrawal from Saigon, when huge queues formed outside the US embassy to get on the last choppers, try visiting your local supermarket.
The queues are usually so vast that I highly recommend taking something to listen to on your iPod as you wait. Wagner’s Ring Cycle should do the trick. Of course, when you do get to the check-out, the tourist in front is bound to have forgotten to weigh his fruit and veg! And, once again, you are likely to meet a gang of beered-up Brits (are you sensing a pattern here, by the way?) whose sole purchases are packs of San Miguel, crisps and a single bottle of Bacardi, ‘in case we bring any birds back’.
Driving in high season is also something of an experience. Ignoring traffic signs and pulling ‘interesting’ driving moves are something of a national pastime in Spain but the influx of tourists makes driving even more ‘white knuckle’ than normal. From motorists sitting in the left-hand lane trying to turn off the main road as other drivers come speeding up behind them, to the nervous drivers doing around 20 kph, you have to channel your inner Lewis Hamilton to get to your destination. Not that you’ll be able to park once you get there, of course.
Come September 1, the tourists vanish and the Costas return to normal. So my advice to surviving the hectic summer months is to pour yourself something long and strong and position yourself halfway between the fridge and the pool.
Goal in Himmel
SO the World Cup has finally finished and congratulations to ‘Die Mannschaft’. Which confirms my belief in the old saying: ‘International football is a game played between 22 that Germany wins. Normally on penalties.’