Deep in the Moroccan Sahara bordering Algiers

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Newsletter December 2001

Who would have believed that 40 years ago Benidorm was just a small, sleepy fishing village, the occupants of which had never seen the likes of a plastic willy, or an inflatable plastic dolphin.  Nor had they the pleasure of meeting Sticky Vicky on her rounds of the night clubs. I wonder what the old fishermen would have made of her?  Benidorm has since changed beyond all recognition, with concrete mixers vomiting copious amounts of concrete to build ever-taller hotels and apartments.  The old part still stands, but bares little indication as to its tranquil and little known past.  The fishermen have long since gone and Benidorm is now overrun with wrinkly pale skinned beach whales, who lay spread-eagle on the sand, paying homage to that big, warm, yellow thing in the sky. Many of them are in competition to compete the cellulite challenge, (sorry ladies) which consists of pretending to ‘run’ the length of the Playa De La Levante one way, (all 2kms) then a sort of deflated hop, skip and a jump back again. They all look very focused, probably in a desperate bid to overt the onset of a major heart attack.  The Dutch seem to have the right idea. They effortlessly ride their petrol or battery driven cycles along the promenade. The Spanish do things their way, by driving everywhere and parking as close to their destination as space will allow.  
One thing I find really irritating about Spain, is the amount of dog shit on the pavements, especially in towns around apartment blocks.  Walking the pavements is a real hazard and can be likened to doing a sort of dyslexic tango with your partner, in an effort to avoid the indiscriminately dumped piles.  I can imagine the sale of paving slabs to include questions such as; ‘And what coverage of dog shit would you like on your pavement Senor?  50% seems quite popular.’ In spite of its faults, Benidorm has a habit of growing on you.  
Because of contracting the Benidorm Bark, (a bad cold) we have only spent a couple of days sight seeing this month. We spent a day in the hills and visited Les Fonts De L’Algar, a beautiful natural waterfall. It was the famous back-drop of the Timotei shampoo advert. You know the one, where a scantily clad bint washes her hair with Timotei under the waterfall, causing untold pollution to the environment! Clean hair, dead fish! But what do I know?  
Launderette capers!
United Peacekeeping Forces are soon to be told of their next mission. They are to forget Afghanistan and are to focus on peacekeeping in and around the launderette sites of El Raco Camping!  It seems that hostilities have flared up between the Dutch and the English factions, with the Dutch fighting for outright control of the washing machines. Skirmishes have been reported in and around the toilet blocks caused by the Dutch jumping the laundry queues. Reports of casualties cannot be confirmed. Though it has been noticed that tensions seem to be less on cold and damp days. The Germans don’t seem to get involved. They have their laundry washed and dried and their selves showered and fed long before any Dutch or English have even thought of dragging themselves out of bed!  As for the Spanish, I’ve yet to see them do any washing!
Campsite in general.
The campsite of El Raco is one of the cleanest and best kept campsites I’ve ever stayed on. All credit to Pedro, and his staff of cleaners and site workers, who work very hard and are always willing to help.  The modern toilet blocks are always spotless and there is 24/7 piping hot water.  The receptionist is multi-lingual and there is a fabulous mini-supermarket on site, which not only has  extremely well stocked shelves, but sells all the favourite things of the main European nationalities.  Marmite for the Brits, chocolate sprinkles for the Dutch, and sausages for the Germans. Some people have been known to complain about Pedro’s insistence that everyone keeps to the campsite rules.  It is the rules and quality of the site, which makes it by far the most popular campsite in Benidorm. Each time we have stayed it has been full to bursting.  All those campers can’t be wrong.  
A small number of campers (long stays) have decorated their ‘gardens’ with gnomes and other statues of dubious parentage.  One camper in particular, seems to have a problem with their garden occupants who appear to be proliferating at an alarming rate!  So much so that they are spilling into the garden of next door!  One evening, whilst on our way back from our weekly meal at China Gardens, I picked up all the garden occupants and re-positioned them in a line, as if they were all leaving home in a convoy.  Alas, they were all herded back to their places the following morning.
Strange Visitors to our pitch.
Having put our caravan up for sale, we have been receiving some rather strange visitors.  Strange English visitors at that!  One retired couple that came, the husband having noticed some Sharon fruit in my fruit bowl, appeared intrigued. So I asked if he would like to try some. I obviously said the wrong thing, because he wasted no time launching into an extensive list of foods that he didn’t like. I thought he had exhausted a rather interminable list of quite ordinary English foods as Alan and I listened dumbfounded.  He continued; ‘Cheddar, I don’t like Cheddar, and brussels, I only like the small ones. Sausages, I can’t stand cold ones. I had a bad sausage once and it made me ill.  I haven’t touched one since. In fact I don’t like any cold meat at all and you can’t fool me by reheating it.  Spices, Oh no, I don’t like spices. Chinese, Japanese, Indian, ughhh. Italian, Oh no, not for me. Milk, I don’t like milk and I don’t like fruit.  I like cauliflowers, but only the green leaves, not the florets.’  He stopped to recollect his thoughts.  ‘I used to like porridge, but I’ve even gone off that!’ He then turned to his partner and give her a rather accusing look. ‘I’ve only gone off porridge in the last few years since I’ve been with you.’  He told her. ‘It’s the way you cook it.’  He added.  (I was beginning to wonder what we had done to deserve this!) Alan and I cast a rather worried look to each other. We sort of got the general drift of what was going to happen next.  We just managed to overt some verbals and messy separation, by reminding them that they had come to view our caravan!  He could have saved us all the verbal diarrhoea, not to mention time, by just telling us the foods he did like!
Christmas Day.
This is our first Christmas in Spain and to our surprise our row on the campsite is being transformed as I write. Our particular row seems to have been on a tinsel and Christmas light shopping frenzy, with each pitch trying to out do their neighbours. Each pitch has that many decorations and flashing lights, baubles and dangly bits, it would put Oxford Street in the shade. Campers from all over the campsite stroll down our row every evening, just to see the lights.  We didn’t have any lights, but we did decorate our little tree on the edge of our pitch with tinsel and baubles.  Pedro and his entourage of cleaners and ground staff woke us all up Christmas Eve, amid the banging of drums and clashing of cymbals, to give us all our Crimbo present.  A bottle of champagne and a platter of fancy biscuits. We spent a quite Christmas indoors, I with a bottle of Sangria, ‘Cheers!’ and lots of goodies, watching the BBC on our satellite system.   
Happy New Year to you all.
What ever it all means.  It’s all man made, isn’t it?  According to Michael Palin, Ethiopia is still in the 19th Century and as most of us know, Saudi Arabia in accordance with the Lunar cycle is still in the 15th Century, so where does that leave us? There is only one time, but who’s time is the real time? Is time those sections being ebbed away on a false face of a clock, or is it the passage of life? In reality, ‘now’ is all there is and ever will be.  The past has gone, never to return, the future just a figment of our imagination.  ‘Now’ is all there is, yet society fools us into all sorts of insecurities under the falseness of time.  Happy New Year to you 

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