Well, today (5th October) is Soup Day in Alora – Día de las Sopas Perotas! Perotas are what the people of Alora are called.
Each year Alora celebrates their not so distant past when country labourers would eat Soup Perota – which is a quick and easy and cheap way to keep your body energised.
Starting in about 10 minutes (12 noon our time) there will be free soup tastings with trimmings such as olives – there will be street entertainment, stalls, flamenco dancers, workshops etc. Apparently most of the bars (where you go for tapas) will offer a free bowl of soup.
Paco, our nice local guide – more about him later – says that in his opinion the soup tastes horrible ( 🙂 ) but the trimmings are delicious!! He says you have to put the soup into context – if you’d been working all day hard in the fields, then a hearty bowl of soup at the end would probably taste delicious too!! But just having a bowl of soup down the street? Nah!
Eric is outside helping our host and a mate do work around the yard – trimming back hedges and getting the wood ready for winter (yes, they have winter here too!!). The guys are both ex-pat Englishman (nearly said POMS, but I think my pommie friends might take offense 🙂 ) and say that the festival is just an excuse to go down town and chat a lot while you have beers – the locals call it ‘talking’.
We are imagining that it will be like Esperance’s Festival of the Wind. You go down town and say ‘Was that it?” – now I’m offending my Esperance friends!! Lo siento!
Alora is proving tricky for me and I’m not really sure how to get the best out of it!
The hardest thing is that before you do a thing, you have to get into town – and it is straight up the mountain! I’ve done it probably a dozen times by now, but it’s not getting easier. My muscles are up to it – but I’m struggling to breathe. Admittedly that is only on the first leg into town – the very first part is practically vertical and it eases off somewhat until the last leg which is not quite as vertical. Once we are in town there are lots of hills, but mostly they are quite gradual and doable (cruisy!).
Also, walking on the flat streets is no problem. But seriously, just knowing that I have to get through the hills first is doing my head in. Nobody would enjoy walking into town if they know they are going to spend the first 15 minutes struggling to breathe!
We’d been told that there is a track leading to the train station (for getting into Malaga) that runs down the side of our property.
In the first week here we went to find it – and all we found was a marshland! There are concrete watering pipes all along it and they leak badly (not used for irrigation anymore) so they’ve made it very wet – on that day we turned back.
But there is another track right along the train line. There is a large and padlocked gate blocking the way! We have been ‘very naughty children’ and climbed up the side of the track (it’s on a hill, surprise!) and around the gate and then the walk into the train station is a piece of piss!!
I feel like I’m breaking the law – and when the first time we did this the train came by while we were negotiating the way down, I was worried that they’d call the police on us 🙂
There are two good things about this new track – the first being that when we want to catch the train, it is only a 25 minute walk on a very reasonable track and all on the flat. And now, when we want to walk into town we can take this track and catch the bus from the train into town, which takes about 10 minutes. There is a local bus at the station each time a train comes in, because the walk into town is (you guessed it!) up a fucking great hill!!!
Last Sunday, we walked down to the train station (the long way – being up the massive hill into town, then up the other big hill further into town, then looked down the mountain to the train station (no footpath) and so walked down to the train on the busy and winding mountain road (eek!) – because we needed to know how to walk to the train station, seeing as how our ‘track’ was actually a marshland – and about 3 hours later (yes) we got back home.
As it was a Sunday (everything closed) all we achieved was finding our way to the station and back!!
So, now that we’ve found the easier way into town (and the bus only costs us 1.50 Euro each) I think I can make the trip into town more easily and with a lighter heart – we still have to walk home the normal way, but since that’s all downhill (the vertical downhill part is tricky) – it’s all good news!
The first week here we mostly stayed close to home – with some trips into town. This week we did a tour around Alora with a local man – Paco – who is very educated and 28. He is currently unemployed, due to the trouble that Spain is in. He teaches Spanish to visitors and takes people on tours of Alora, Malaga and other areas when requested. He is very nice and the idea was to teach us ‘survivor Spanish’ and make us practice it in coffee shops, etc. He didn’t really do that part so much. Mostly he took over in the coffee shops!! But once we did that tour around Alora – he took us into shops and showed us good places for things and introduced us to people – Alora didn’t feel so scary!
The trip into Malaga was very quick – but basically instead of us trying to work out where everything was and orienting ourselves, he was able to show us the main sites (including the Alcazaba Castle – originally Moors and built-over by many different regimes, including Phoenicians, Romans and Christians – like all the castles here!!).
The really great thing about Paco guiding us around Alcazaba is that it is not set up to be helpful to English speaking tourists. Their signs are all in Spanish, the lady at the ticket office had no English and if we were just wandering the grounds ourselves, sure we’d be going “ooh” and “aah” – because there are some gorgeous things to “ooh” and “aah” about – but we wouldn’t have learned anything about the history of the place! Paco couldn’t believe that there are no jobs for educated people like him (he is a qualified teacher) and yet the tourist sites don’t have English speaking staff. Before he was unemployed he used to take visitors for guided tours – but just for fun! Now that he’s unemployed he can’t do it for fun anymore – but to put some money in his pocket! Fair enough too!!
Our castle here in Alora (from where Eric took the photo of town above) has some parts that are inscribed as old as 79 AD – so there is a good long history here too!
Okay, so now that our departure time for the Soup Festival is coming up – I’d better go and hang out the washing, have a shower – you know the ‘boring everyday stuff’, so that I’m ready when Eric is!
BTW – tomorrow we are going to adventure to Plaza Mayor on the train (pronounced Platha Mayor) to go to the cinemas. The movie doesn’t start until 6.30pm (the English ones are on late; although 6.30 is early for Spain. During the week the movies don’t start until about 10pm – only on the weekend can you see films from lunchtime onward!) The adventure part is changing trains and arriving in a new town and finding the movies!!! AND making sure we have a train to catch back to Alora later that night – it is Sunday timetables you know!
Ciao for now! Hasta luego!
P.S Photo above was taken from up at the Castle in Alora. This is a ‘street’ just made up of lots of steps. There is a ‘famous’ (here anyway) car advertisement that was filmed here – car going down the stairs! Quite a long time ago (I think) and if the following link works, you can see for yourself! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s7Ij28gT4M