Visits to Fuengirola, Andalucia, Spain

Hello, Friends!

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On December 5 I received my Non-lucrative Residence Visa from the Spanish Government! Obtaining the visa was quite the challenge with two in-person visits to the Spanish Consulate in New York City and numerous forms, letters, documents, translations, photos, and certifications. In total I presented about 1 inch of documentation and paid several fees to get the visa which is good for 90 days (in addition to the 90 days permitted by the normal tourist visa). Within that time, I have to complete two additional forms, pay 15.30 Euros for taxes, get finger printed, register as a Mijas Pueblo resident and obtain a residency card that will permit me to stay for a year.

IMG_2058This morning I went to Fuengirola to the local Policia Nacional to get moving on the application process for the residency card. Fuengirola is the sea-side resort town which is about 7 kilometers down the mountain from Mijas Pueblo. I have been there several times since October and am today posting photos taken on various trips to town and one looking up the mountain at Mijas Pueblo.

In Summer Fuengirola has a large number of tourists mainly from all over Europe. On my first trip to the town in September it was quite hot in the 90’s and even today it is balmy in the low 60’s. Pictured is a woman getting a beach massage in October for 10 Euros. For those curious about the photo, all beaches in Spain are top-optional for women and approximately 20% choose the option.

IMG_1978There are several statues in Fuengirola and included is a photo of one taken at the port and one of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (of Columbus fame). Currently oranges are now ripe and several streets in Fuengirola are lined with beautiful orange trees, mixed with Christmas decorations.

liebster-award2I am planning to visit Gibraltar this week and will be posting another blog after doing so. Also, I want to thank Marigold for nominating my blog for the Liebster Award. I have not met Marigold but enjoy her blog and I will post more later about the nomination. Meanwhile, please visit Marigold’s blog at http://versusblurb.wordpress.com.

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Traffic Jam and Optimism in Mijas!

IMG_1683Today is cool in Mijas Pueblo, Spain with the temperature in the fifties (Farenheit). It has been raining on and off for the past two days BUT I am thankful there is no snow. Yes, living in a place where there is no snow is something to be thankful for. I will be able to see snow in the mountains all around me this Winter but the weather now is likely as bad as it will get until Spring. In living in Mijas I think about my family and friends and the stark weather contrast with the Northeast US. For me the last two Winters put me over the edge with snow and was a motivator to find places to live where it would be by choice to be in it! It will be nice to enjoy snow-capped mountains at a distance!

As I said, there has been a lot of rain the past two days. People just take it in stride. I have noticed among all the people here (natives, expats and visitors) a sense of optimism. In between it raining today I took a walk and I saw a woman putting her wash out to dry (no driers here). That’s being really optimistic as it could rain more! I also watched people optimistically dealing with a traffic jam today!

In a town that has few one-way cobblestone streets, a traffic jam must be a rarity! Well, today I saw one. It occurred were a single lane, one-way road (going south to north) merges for 20 feet with a single lane, one-way road (going north to south) so people traveling either direction can take a westerly road which is in the middle of the merge area.  The merge area is large enough for only one vehicle. A delivery was being made to a produce shop at the intersection of these three roads. The truck blocked others going any direction.

How did everyone cope with the situation? They knew there was no other choice for a way to go. They knew that it was good to have that shop there selling produce. They knew that it would eventually get sorted out. And it did! I can imagine how this scenario could have played out elsewhere! Today’s picture is of the street going in the westerly direction where the Mijas six car and one truck traffic jam occurred. The pictured road is key to get though the village. It is one-way, cobblestone, and always shared by vehicles and pedestrians.

Forever thankful that it isn’t snowing here in Mijas Pueblo.

Barry

La Cucaracha (The Cockroach)

imageSome services are delivered in Mijas Pueblo in ways that are interesting to me. As a child I recall bread and milk being delivered to our house so it really should have been no surprise to see home delivery of some services in the village.

Bakeries have contracts to deliver fresh rolls and bread to restaurants and some individuals. I am uncertain how early these deliveries occur but I have at times gone walking before 7:00am and have seen bread hanging on doors as pictured here. This photo was taken at a house so can you imagine a large plastic bag of rolls and bread delivered to a restaurant also hanging on the door? Fresh bread is really important in this Spanish community.

Another experience I have had is the reason for the title of this blog entry. You see, the homes and businesses use butane to provide heat for cooking, hot water, and to warm the house. It is delivered in orange canisters that are similar to propane tanks in the US. One enterprise goes through town in a truck filled with butane canisters and residents come out to exchange empty tanks for full ones. The residents know he is there because he has wired his truck horn to loudly blast the tune La Cucaracha! It is just a unique way for the villagers to know that if they need butane to get it then!

That’s today’s blog entry. If there are topics you would like me to describe or reflect on during my adventure in Spain, please let me know.

Toros y Matadores

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Last month I went to a bullfight in Mijas Pueblo. They are held each Sunday at the Plaza de Toros located in the Parque de Muralla. As someone has since observed… “It isn’t really a fight because the bull doesn’t stand a chance.” Actually, the observation is correct. As soon as the bull enters the ring, he is doomed to eventually be worn down and die. That sounds awful but I also don’t want to detract from the bravery and skill that the young matador demonstrate in the ring. If you are like me, I am sure you wouldn’t want to be face-to-face with and inches away from an angry bull, pawing his hoofs and anxious to gore you with his horns!

As  pictured, the Plaza de Toros was built in 1900. It is different from other bull rings in that it is an oval outside with the circular bullring inside. Seating is at two ends, “Sol y Sombra”  (Sun and Shade). As it was quite hot when I went, I chose sombra even through it was a bit more expensive. The seats are concrete and stone. It does have a livestock odor to it. The ring has places for the matador’s assistants as well as the band (like a small pep band) that I will describe later.

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I am not going to include the gory parts of the fight in these notes. It is bloody and, in my opinion, cruel at times. Bullfighting is close to being a national sport. Futbol (a.k.a. soccer) certainly is the national sport, however! Recently I was in Ronda which is the home of bullfighting for almost 400 years. There you will find monuments outside the city bullring dedicated to the most famous toreros including Pedro Romero Martinez who allegedly fought 5558 bulls without being seriously injured! Across Spain are 30 foot high monuments to bulls and the sport.

I am enclosing a few photos taken during and after the bullfight. The pricey event was an hour and a half long. This included flamingo dancing as well as two fights. It also was interesting that a small high school band was at the bullfight and added music to the various activities such as the matadors entry, and bull entering the ring, building excitement throughout the bullfight, and finally the dead bull being dragged around the ring after being killed, the bull’s ears given to the matador, and the matador being carried off on the shoulders of others as a hero!

Until next time, “Ole!”

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Parque La Muralla

ApartmentI am enclosing a photo of the exterior of my apartment on Calle Cantara in Mijas Pueblo. My apartment is the top floor with the terrace and part of the floor just below it, also with a terrace (and a grill). In total there are two bedrooms, 2 and a half baths, a kitchen and a nice dining area, and a living room.

While the view of the Mediterranean Sea and the valley leading to the sea is stunning, on one side of the building there is a huge rock wall often frequented by rock climbers! Four were there today!. Atop the rock wall sits the Parque La Muralla, a beautiful, well maintained park which draws visitors from throughout the world. There are remnants of medieval structures found here but the park is known for the views and the well maintained gardens. A beautiful old church is in the park as well as the bull ring and numerous fountains. On a clear day you can see all the way to Gibraltar and Morocco!

So, in today’s visual blog I am inviting you to see the beauty of Parque La Muralla in my village, Mijas Pueblo!

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Life Without a Car in Mijas Pueblo

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I haven’t previously mentioned that I am in Mijas Pueblo, Spain without a car. Today I am going to talk about that.

You may think that basic transportation is an essential component of living. I think it comes from our American spirit of “on the go” independence. Having a car is expensive here so my primary mode of getting around the village is “self-propelled,” meaning “on foot!” Why would I need to have a car when everything I really need is a walk away? Yes, sometimes that walk may take awhile but that is good time to look at the surroundings, greet people, take photos, and contemplate. The baker, market, butcher and eating places are all at a very reasonable walking distance which, at the most, is twenty minutes. I enjoy the walks exploring the pueblo and the exercise going up and down all of the hills and steps is good for me!

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This morning I broke my usual routine and I ate breakfast in. I walked to the local bakery nearest to me and bought a small loaf of warm, fresh bread. I don’t know about you, but warm, fresh-baked bread really arouses my senses! The smell of fresh-baked bread fills the morning air and the thoughts of fresh bread makes my mouth water in anticipation of loading a chunk of it with delicious blueberry jam! I also think it feels different when you eat it!

Anyway, on my way back from the bakery I found a man selling churros (a cousin to funnel cake). I bought three for one Euro to add to my breakfast of fresh bread and jam. I ate this morning on my sunny balcony with a warm breeze coming off the Mediterranean Sea! Life is good!

I briefly mentioned exercise. I have only hiked a short distance up the mountains behind me (to the little white chapel in the photo above). Mijas Pueblo is at about 450 meters (1475 feet) above the sea on the side of a mountain in the Sierra de Mijas range. The mountain goes up to about 3600 feet and I estimate that I have been to an elevation around 1900 feet.

I made the trek up the side of the mountain a few weeks ago. On my way down, a torrential rain storm occurred. I was completely soaked and only hoped that my phone would survive! As I finally got into the village, an old woman saw me scurrying to seek shelter and beckoned me in Spanish to stand in her entrance until the rain abated. I did. This is typical of the kindness I have found where my greeting of “Buenos dias!” is often returned with a smile and sometimes “Hola, amigo.”

Old People Out-and-About!

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It is interesting that there seems to be a considerable population of the elderly in Mijas Pueblo. These older men and women who are native to the pueblo, rather than the vast numbers of expats and tourists, are certainly obvious in their appearance.  I would estimate that at least 90% of the women wear dresses or skirts when out-and-about and 100% of the men wear long pants and many, hats. Many of the women, as well as men, walk with the assistance of canes. It is also encouraging to see many younger people helping their elders walk through the village.

The steps of these older people are shorter than I take. I note that I think they take two for each of mine. Possibly this is a reflection of the hyper paced nature of the culture I am from verses the local one which is certainly more laid back.

The older men have several benches in the community where they sit. I observed them a few days ago and it appears to me that their meeting is not just for their friendly banter with each other but also to watch and comment about the tourists! Maybe the expats too! It is interesting isn’t it that the Mijas tourists are here to experience the life, history, culture and food in the pueblo and many community residents are out-and-about to observe them!

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I think that there is an interesting relationship between the elderly in Mijas Pueblo, expat community and the tourists. One thing though is for certain, each is dependent on the other. Recognizing this the local government really does a great job keeping the pueblo beautiful and clean! For the most part, people are courteous of cleaning up after their pets. The village employs many people to sweep and clean the streets daily!

Everyday I see the same man sweeping the street and emptying trash cans in Barrio Santa Ana where I presently live. We always exchange hellos as I am on my way to the bakery or to breakfast. Visibly he is proud of his work and it shows! There are also people maintaining the hundreds of flowers and pots that hang on the houses and shops along the streets. They are all the same blue and are meticulously maintained

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I have attached some photos of the experiences mentioned in this blog entry and others from the market in the village. I hope you enjoy them!

From my little corner of Spain, “Hasta luego!” Senora Cessarone would be proud!

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