Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Travelling Spain: Ronda

There wasn't much I knew about Andalusia before deciding to come here. Major cities like Sevilla, Málaga and Granada sounded familiar, not least from all that time spent playing Sensible Soccer and Championship Manager. That's what made a place called Ronda alluring- I'd never heard of it. Subsequent planning revealed a “white town” divided by 120 metre-high bridge running over a chasm. I was going. 

But the most profound experience of my two nights in Ronda turned out be a single ensuite room and some time to myself. After sixteen nights in shared accommodation, the last three of which were harassed by incessant snoring, I had been desperately seeking solitude. Hotel Morales was the perfect remedy.

Early starts allowed me to explore this dramatically situated town properly. The Moors fortified it well, and throughout the centuries, Ronda had become the site of repeated sieges. The eighteenth-century bridge, or Puente Nuevo, was certainly impressive. Looking cautiously down, accounts of prisoners being thrown over during the Civil War ran eerily through my mind. I also visited a museum exhibiting documents, photographs and paraphernalia related to the nineteenth-century Andalusian “bandits”. Average. 

A recurring theme on this trip has been to find a sunny spot where I can sit and read. One afternoon, I scouted out a suitable spot on the crest of one of Ronda's many urban slopes. Here I was presented with a clear example of Latin peoples' tendency for oral projection. I couldn't quite believe how loudly four men were speaking to each other on the corner. It must have been an argument, even if definitive signs of aggression or submission were lacking. Whatever the topic, the sound of Spaniards in Spain is something I won't forget quickly. 

After moving to a quieter location, I managed a few chapters before being approached by a young family. Dad started off by hassling me for a cigarette or bread. When I told him I had neither, it sounded like he enquired if I was Chinese. At that point, I asked if he spoke English. Immediately he turned to the oldest child, who was nine at most. In a moment of inspiration, she tenuously interpreted the elders' short conversation. But her younger sister stole the show by listening intently to the Inglés introductions and contributing with something like: "Mee nay ess Sara!"

Afterwards, I vainly hoped that they might remember me as some kind of nomad from parts unknown (as if Spain was on the other side of the world, didn't use the euro and wasn't serviced by Ryanair). I also continue to wonder if I somehow seem Chinese. 

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