“Mum, would you rather die by being sucked down the toilet, rammed by the drinks trolley or catapulted out the window?”
Ignoring the boy child’s Haribo infused fascination with morbid in-flight endings; I fasten my seatbelt and look out the window at the country I call home. Catching my own reflexion in the glass I see my mother’s eyes looking back at me and I wonder if I’ve made the right decision by letting my husband drive all the way to Spain. Tears prickle behind my eyes and I rapidly blink them back. I really hope he hasn’t crashed travelling through France as I’ve grown quite fond of that glass coffee table he’s got bubble wrapped in the boot.
Anyone thinking about relocating to Spain will find long term accommodation hard to come by, especially in the tourist resorts as the summer season approaches but I have been fortunate enough to be put in touch with a friend of a friend’s auntie’s brother’s great niece who has inherited a family house in the Campo which we can stay in rent free as long as my husband promises to repair a few electrical bits and tidies the garden occasionally. I don’t quite know what a Campo is but it all sounds very glam and Poldark esque. I’m consumed by visions of myself riding bareback to the local fruit and veg market on an untamed Palomino stallion. Hundreds of Looky-Looky men follow my progression through the various stalls as I scoop up several kilo of sundried tomatoes and casually drop them onto my rotating umbrella hat. In reality, I’d probably have to tuck my breasts into my knickers if I rode anything that went any faster than a slow amble in fear of giving myself a black eye.
Time flies like my transient youth and before I have time to order another vodka chaser we have crossed countries, breezed through customs and are tucked safely on board the fast train to Fuengirola. Unfortunately most of the 35 minute journey is spent apologising to the local residents as our errant Suitcases decide to take on a Torvil & Dean style skate off down the centre aisle every time the train departs a station. Straddling both bags with my fluorescent thighs I smile apologetically at our captive olive skinned audience and they shake their heads in weary acceptance at the anaemic interlopers currently invading not only their network system but their country too.
On exiting the train station we rapidly locate the Taxi rank and I bang on the window of several sleepy drivers who take one look at the hastily scribbled accommodation address and shake their heads in a no nonsense manner. Finally one elderly chap nods in agreement and looks dramatically up towards the hills. Without further adieu our bags are hurled into his boot and with his foot on the gas he indicates Left, promptly turns right and without even a nod to the wing mirror, takes an unscheduled U turn in the road.
Within minutes we are gliding up the A7 motorway through the Costa Del Sol. Bleached villas envelop the landscape either side of the road and Indigo Pools twinkle in the afternoon sunlight. Heading towards a sign that reads ‘La Cala de Mijas’ we leave the familiarity of the road and head North onto a dirt track which appears to lead upwards into oblivion. My adventurer’s spirit rapidly starts to fade as we climb higher and higher into the mountains until the only thing left to view is the horizon. Thunder rolls overhead and the Sun is eclipsed by a cloud the colour of granite. We turn one final corner and come to an abrupt stop in front of a fenced off compound surrounding a rather ramshackle wooden house that wouldn’t look out of place in a Freddy Krueger sequel.
The driver drops our luggage by the fence and disappears in a cloud of dust. My son shields his eyes and squints towards our new abode and then enquiringly back at me. I smile encouragingly and head towards the padlocked gate but his voice stops me instantly in my tracks.
“I really don’t want to worry you mother but there’s a goat about to eat my suitcase”
To be continued – Episode 3