Something you notice in Spain is that there is quite a lot of rubbish around. Not necessarily litter, but just rubble and bits and bobs. In comparison to some other countries, they don’t seem too bothered about having debris around. This might not seem ideal at first glance but it’s actually just an overflow of how wonderfully laid back they are. I love that about the Spanish.
Mum and I arrived here on Sunday evening and were collected by our cousin, Richard, who has a house in Busot. It’s a little mountain-y village and he chose it because it is not a tourist spot. On the contrary it is quiet and sort of normal, which is really refreshing. It’s one thing to find a beach-hugging swanky place on the coast through AirBnB and another to stay in someone’s home. He’s had a place in Spain for about four years and is very clued up on all things local.
The three main themes of our week together were food, swimming and family. First, food.
Suffice to say, we ate a lot. And then slept a lot to recover and then ate some more. My favourite meals were a three course lunch in the mountains after visiting an old castle; a beautiful dinner overlooking La Marina and the delicious stew Richard made for us. He’s proper good at cooking. Across those three occasions we had tender swordfish, herby rabbit, pork ribs, potent garlic paste called allioli, real lemon sorbet (which one drinks with a straw), salmon with prawn sauce, endive leaves with dollops of blue cheese sauce, helado (that’s ice cream) and more. More and more. Cava is what Spanish people call champagne. Also, the views from the places we ate! Exceptional.
Then, swimming. My name is not Marina for nothing I realise. To be in the sea, is just one of my favourite things and having grown up in Cape Town, blissfully unaware of the glory it is to swim in warm seas, I almost died upon realising (last year, also in Spain) how nice it is to swim without gasping for your life and getting instant pins and needles. I will always love Spain for introducing me to warm water, and the beaches around Busot did not disappoint.
We swam in a grand total of seven different beaches including El Campello, Portet, Benidorm and a bunch more. We swam on sandy beaches, slipped into the silky blue water off rocks and tanned so much I thought I would surely burn at some point, but I didn’t. Something I have discovered is the power of buying suncream that smells really nice (usually like coconut) as this makes me put it on more often and liberally. Viva el suncreamo coconut!
Finally, family. To have time with my mum in London and this week in Spain, was wonderful. Holidaying as an adult with my mum is so different, we travel and explore and experience things as equals. And it falls to me to say things like be careful the rocks are slippery and to take the heavy bags as we navigate the gradual and poignant role reversal all parents and children are destained to experience. I love my mum, she is the best mum in the world.
It was also really lovely to be with Richard, and share family memories and stories. And, to experience some of the value Spanish people place on family. I so enjoyed seeing old and very leathery couples walking in the water together in the mornings, and we were spectators at a traditional fiesta parade (that lasted over three hours) and in which generations took part. Tiny children dressed as marauding Moors or Christians, babes in arms with dummies colour-matched to their parents jangling costumes, aunts and grandmothers side by side stepping forward in unison and fathers and grandfathers with cigars, mimicked by young boys with wooden swords and shields. It was beautiful. Family is beautiful.
And that was my week in Spain. There was of course much more – star gazing, a glistening pool, exploring parts of the old town and art galleries, but enough for now. I am so grateful to have had this holiday and was so aware of God with me as I explored a new part of the world, basking in the beauty of His creation, relaxing and resting deeply.