Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SPAIN: Medina-Sidonia rest day

fog around the lower town

above the clouds English tour group
Before breakfast I took Munson for a walk up to the top of the town, noting that the lower parts were completely buried in fog as if we were sitting above the clouds. Amongst the various ruins that crown the peak, I met an English tour group who had sailed into Cadiz only that morning and had been whisked up here,  perhaps on a tour of the Bull Route that connects sea to mountain in this part of Andalucia. Caught talking to some of them for a while, the Atlantic fog rose further until even we were wrapped in a pea-souper. What do they call those here – una niebla gazpacho?

Munson's first admirers of the day everything lost to fog

On the way back to our Moorish refuge for breakfast Munson was loudly noted, if not actually greeted, by many of the local dogs, mostly from windows, balconies or roof-tops.

David and GoliathOne very little dog came bolting out of a door to confront Munson but its owner came quickly on its minute heels, by which it was grabbed and hoisted aloft before being taken inside for a scolding. God knows what it was thinking as it was about the size of Munson’s foot!


The local supermarket is only five minutes away through the ancient Arco de la Pastora, and while helping Peter with the day's shopping, I noted a mobile phone operator's shop had just opened. There was already a queue outside the door but I didn't think that was going to get any better through the day, so grabbed the first opportunity to try to obtain a local PAYG sim card. If fortune smiled, we would have internet access for the week.

My Spanish was slowly recuperating, especially as more telephonically relevant words bubbled out of the past while I scanned posters and leaflets around the agency. I apologised  “Olvidado mucho espanol”,  to which the agent (who had disclaimed any knowledge of English or French) nodded “I know, I know”. I mischievously inquired “tu tambien?” which unleashed gales of laughter from all the women queued up at the counter.

The agent told me she had prepaid cards in stock but I'd need my passport to buy one, and it would take two days to activate! Not seeing any better offer on the table, I went back to the house to collect it (and Gustav with his own passport). I then rejoined the counter while another agent put together whatever mindlessly overwrought paperwork was required to get a card I could buy in under a minute from a supermarket cashier under normal circumstances. I had bought a Vodafone card when I was in Spain in 2005 and didn't remember it being quite so difficult, but there were hints that new legislation limited many phone cards to people with Spanish ID cards only.

modern architecture local bus just squeezes into the narrow streets

After what seemed an age while the merits of my application were being debated with their call centre, and long strings of numerical codes being written down, I looked at the list of requirements that were being demanded, and I realised that they were trying to sign me up to a contract just for one or two weeks' usage! Gustav already seemed to be developing one of those "I can't believe they can make it so difficult" headaches. I repeated that I just wanted a prepaid SIM (tarjeta prepago), and then I was told that they would not sell me one of those.

“Lo siento – Sorry!” I said “but that's not going to work”, and collected my passport and left the office to the swelling queue winding out onto the footpath outside.

P1100904Peter was out for the day (but promised us a paella for dinner on his return), and after two days of driving from France, we were content to stay at home and wash away the stresses of the road.

I put together a clumsy but serviceable salade nicoise for lunch, and with that and a pot of coffee, Gustav and I weres ready to  devote the day to books and pointing toes at the sun by the pool.

Munson was also very content to sleep away much of the day on solid ground, when he wasn’t pacing around the pool edge trying to work out how to get in. He’d found the stairs but was not prepared to descend more than a few inches to drink. I wondered if the shifting light across the blue tiles made him think it was like a dangerous ice crossing.
hide and seek, supervised by the diving Madonna lazing by the pool
Munson asleep behind the kitchen door  courtyard colour

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