By Veronica


Another sunny, cloudless day today -- the clouds had disappeared overnight without depositing any rain (for information, we've been here a month now, and it hasn't rained once).

I decided to drive to Lanjarón, "gateway to the Alpujarras", whose spring water is ubiquitous throughout Spain. We've been there before, almost exactly two years ago. At the time we found it strangely deserted, and when I parked in the newer part of town, I thought it was going to be the same: shops, hotels, even bars all shuttered, no-one in the streets.  But the old town was a little more lively, and I ended up enjoying a stroll through the oh-so-typical streets. I had photos with people in them, but I just liked the geometry of this one, so yes, another one for my window and door series.

I found a very traditional bakery in a back street, which smelled wonderfully of baking bread (on getting home I found that while it looked magnificent, the crusty loaf I'd bought was the usual white pap inside). Then I sat down on a sunny bar terrace for a drink, and found it so pleasant that I sat there for ages watching the typical Alpujarran street scene: a man delivering hams (see first extra). During the whole  half hour I was sitting there, he didn't stop bringing out the hams two by two from his van.

Walking back to the car, I found the absolute best ferretería ever. I am a fan of the comprehensive nature of Spanish ironmongers. Until now my favourite was the one in Don Estebe in Navarra. It's a massive barn with a men's section (cowbells, axes, chainsaws) and a women's section (pans, utensils, fabrics, terracotta pots). This one was something else: a tiny shop with literally thousands of different items, covering every possible household need, and some you would never have thought of. Extra 2 shows a tiny fraction of the stock behind the counter. You can hardly move for shelves, and a storeroom at the back had at least as much again. How does the shopkeeper know where everything is?

When I came in, having been fatally attracted by some ceramics in the window, a woman was at the counter dithering over cosmetics (I know -- this hardware store is very comprehensive). The shopkeeper was helping her as they carefully examined concealer sticks, holding them up to compare the colour with her skin tone while engaging in a lengthy discussion about their suitability. I thought I might be there for a while, but that was fine ... I was busy admiring the Aladdin's cave. A number of other people came in and seeing the blockage simply asked if the shop had the particular item they wanted. Still carrying on the cosmetic-related conversation, the shopkeeper provided whatever was required instantly or -- amazingly in the circumstances -- said she didn't stock it.

During a lull in the conversation, she fished the items I'd seen out of the window, and I liked them so much I bought all of them, whereupon she congratulated me on my good taste and the other customers commented on how lovely they were (you'll have to wait for me to blip them!). The shop is so old-fashioned that she wrapped them up in actual paper with the name of the shop on it. What a find -- I'll be back!

I also found a very nice delicatessen, but refrained from spending more money, and what looks like a largely abandoned and massively overgrown spa-related park that looks worth exploration. A rather surreal experience followed -- as I strolled along the street, I was following a couple of Americans who, strangely, were wearing shirts and ties. Americans have carrying voices at the best of times, but for the length of my walk from ferretería to car, I got to eavesdrop on a loud and pompous conversation about the politics and purposes of some kind of religious sect.

So it was a worthwhile and enjoyable trip out. This evening I went to the Casa de la Cultura for some Cuban music. It wasn't exactly the Buena Vista Social Club, but it was pleasant enough, saved from dullness by some excellent guitar playing.

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