Sunday, June 25, 2017

Gergal and old friends

Because the van came with a 3 month warranty we called the dealer we bought it from and asked how we got to claim against it, they wanted a written estimate.

Ken and Angie have been friends of ours since we were about 14. Barbara and I started riding motorcycles as a result of Ken buying a motorcycle and me getting to ride it around his tiny backyard.
Angie and Ken 
A group formed, based on a common interest in motorcycles. Ron and Sue, Steve and Jenny, Ken and Angie, John and Daphne, Barbara and I. Ken has pointed out that we are a pretty unusual group in that we all married at about the same time when we were around 21 years old. And all of us are still married to the same spouses.
Not a very clear picture but L to R Barbara, Ken, Angie, Me and Ken
Barbara and I have probably been away from UK the longest although Ken and Steve have wandered the globe too, in fact Steve now lives in Bulgaria. But somehow we all manage to get together once in a while to catch up with the news.

We're all retired now, and have chosen different ways to enjoy that stage of our lives. Ken and Angie have a holiday home here in Gergal Spain, which lies between Grenada and the west coast in the arid hills of Andalucia.
Walking into the village with the castle in the hill
When they heard we were in the area and had problems with the van they offered to put us up in their home and to enlist the help of their neighbor Anne who is English but fluent in Spanish, and the mechanic at the bottom of the hill who they know and trust.

Strangely enough the mechanic took a look at the van and announced there was nothing wrong with it!! He showed me how to jamb the gear lever hard over and push it into first, once there it stayed in gear and drove just fine! So much for the previous mechanic declaring it deceased.. We thanked Juan (the mechanic) and Anne, and we went out and celebrated. Something has changed it the gear linkage that changed the feel of it going into 1st gear but quite how and why we don't understand.

And the celebration started almost as soon as we arrived in town. Another friend of Ken and Angie, (who is also called Ken), was staying with them too and all 5 of us went to the local bar. Being Spain/Europe we didn't go out until 8.30pm and we happily drank beer while sitting in the square outside the bar until 11.30pm. The beers include a plate of "Tapas", which are snack size portions of food including shrimp, beef, sausage and a few fries. It's a delightful way to spend and evening, and being a small village everyone one knows everyone else so their are frequent calls of "Hola", handshakes, hugs and kisses on the cheek.
Narrow steep streets off the village square
There is also a fair sized English community here and we gradually met most of them. Every evening involved a late walk to one of the various bars for tapas and beer until on Friday night when we were in the square and a large celebration involving seemingly the whole village including all the kids had broken out.
Kids and squirt guns for the San Juan celebration
It was apparently San Juan's day. We know him as John the Baptist and it is celebrated here by people going to the beach and building bonfires, having parties with friends, then at midnight they all walk out into the water to be "Baptized" again. In Gergal it involved lots of drinking, bingo and all the kids having water fights with "Super Soaker" squirt guns and everyone else getting soaked by near misses. At midnight everyone came over to the public drinking fountain in the square and wet their heads and faces.
The church and castle with the white houses on the side of the hill make this so picturesque
It was wonderful to be part of this intimate part of the village life and we were welcomed with open arms. Even the bingo numbers were being called in English and Spanish! Before we knew it it was 2am and we crawled reluctantly back to Ken and Angie's.
Barbara, Angie and Anne (With the hat) at the market
Anne was our translator at the garage
Somehow we found enough energy the following day to walk up to the square again and look around the street market that comes to town on Saturdays, followed (of course) by a few rounds of drinks at the scene of the previous evenings religious observations! Dinner was as on previous nights except we met a new group of English residents, some permanent, some transient but all mellow people with whom we found a kinship in motorcycles and travel and before we knew it it was 2am again!

13 for lunch, Cortijillo Restaurant
The last day in Gergal we all went to an even more remote village for lunch and a birthday party. We were amazed to find a superb little restaurant perfectly decorated and with an extensive "Fixed price menu" with 3 courses and beer or wine for $11 a head! 13 "Ex Pats" met for Bob's birthday, the food and atmosphere were great and the company exceptional.
Bob's "TriBsa" motorcycle. Half Triumph and half BSA
Bob and Sheila's Pool
I talked motorcycles to Bob for hours then we went back to his house and sat around the pool until 7pm.
Pretty village from the restaurant.
What a perfect day and a perfect end to a surprise visit with old friends.

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