Too much of traveling – if there is ever such a thing – over decades seems to have taken a toll on my memory. When I traveled in the late nineties and early naughts, it was a time when we didn’t have digital cameras as easily available as now. Mobile phones were just becoming affordable for the common man/woman/kid and travelling was done without the number of gadgets we have nowadays. Not to mention, no Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to instantly update progress of these journeys. While being “disconnected” had a charm of its own, because I never made notes or kept a diary – something that I do now – I realized that I have forgotten a lot about the places and people from these trips. Here I am trying to remember a little of the forgotten past…
After the first in the series featured Melbourne, Australia it is now time to head on to sunny Spain and the beach town of Fuengirola. A trip with a couple of friends, taken in 2003,we toured around the Costa del Sol soaking in the sights with the sun in tow. Memories might have faded over time, but I still remember some episodes, others I better not disclose, and those that are lost, must have been for a reason;
I remember our little apartment in Fuengirola that we rented; cozy, with a pool that we never used considering the beach was a stone’s throw away, and views of the Mediterranean in the short-distance blocked in patches by apartment complexes.
I remember that on a good day, if I were to squint my eyes, I could actually see Africa.
I remember the anxiety that initially took over me, as this was the first time I was driving in a foreign country and that too on the “other” side.
I remember burning rubber as I tried to go up hill on the first day of driving. Over the next few days I eased up and was quite confident as long as my friend kept reminding me that I have to drive on the right side.
I remember driving to Gibraltar (we parked in Spain and crossed on foot) and thankfully having a visa for UK.
I remember crossing the tarmac in order to enter Gibraltar right after a plane had landed… How cool is that!
I remember being a little disappointed because Gibraltar came across as more industrial and lacked the glamour and beauty of being near the sea.
In Gibraltar, I actually witnessed one of those flash sales where they sell lesser known products for real cheap prices and most of the time they turn out to be fakes or broken. Thankfully, I didn’t bid high enough to get anything.
I remember climbing up the Rock of Gibraltar. Or wait, I think, on the way up we took the tram/car and walked back down?
I remember the monkeys – a whole bunch of them – at the Rock. They were the type of cheeky and snatch-y monkeys one isn’t always fond of.
I remember the long traffic jam that we got stuck in on the way back.
I remember the lazy days spent at the beach just relaxing, talking, taking it easy.
I remember the pirated CD sellers coming over to sell music CDs everyday at the beach. Evanescence and Justin Timberlake were the popular chart toppers around that time.
I remember the warm summer water of the Mediterranean, perfect for a swim and the bright sun that didn’t leave you cold upon leaving the sea.
I remember beaches being clothing-optional, most were only topless, but family beaches nevertheless.
I remember it was the first time I had a heat rash in my life. It was pretty unusual and moderate, but later, in the following years, it would developed into something severe and a lot more uncomfortable.
I remember driving to the beautiful town of Mijas and visiting my very first bull fight arena. No fights, just the arena.
Mijas was a quaint small village in the hills about forty-five minutes drive from Fuengirola and presented with some spectacular views especially of the white-washed house clusters all around.
I remember the day trip to Marbella, with it’s popular beaches and grand rich lifestyle.
I remember doing the touristy thing and taking the little train ride through the city. It really is the playground of the rich and the famous.
I remember the late night, or rather early morning, clubbing. Hopping from one place to another and experiencing the true advantages of a happening, seaside town. It had been a few years since college and although my body wasn’t as adaptive to the change in scene, it was still great fun.
I remember this one shot that should have knocked me out after a couple of glasses, but I ended up having 5-6 and feeling fine. It was called Salmiakki – I didn’t remember the name and had to ask my friend for the same.
If memory recalls, there might have been some international drunk dialing after all the shots, so maybe it did hit me eventually.
I remember meeting a female bartender in one of the clubs who happened to be half Goan (Indian connection).
I fondly remember getting a lap dance in front of everyone in the club from one of the performing dancers. They go from club to club doing “performances” every night.
I don’t remember seeing much because she removed my glasses – making me pretty much blind – and my friend had to fetch them for me after the performance. There’s a video on an old Nokia phone of that somewhere.
I remember telling tales to a guy who was trying to hit on my friend that the reason she could not leave with him was because she was my “real” half sister. He was too drunk and too confused by the end of it, but still bought us a few drinks.
I remember the drives along the Costa del Sol, passing through seaside towns, each with white beaches on the right and rampant commercialization and building of apartments on the left.
I remember visiting the Sea Life Center in Benalmadena, one of the seaside town we stopped at, which was just like any other Sea Life Center around the world. This one though had a huge pool with sting rays and guests could even feed them.
Also in Benalmadena, I remember taking a boat trip on an authentic Chinese Junk Boat that took us for a cruise into the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, I also vividly recollect that one of the other three co-passengers spent most of the time throwing up.
I remember the Spanish omelet that my resident friend made for us. YUM!
I regretfully remember the Full British Breakfast at one of the beach-side shacks. Now, I always remember to eat only local preparations.
I remember the weekday local market in Fuengirola and parking a good 10 minutes away from it, in a no parking zone. Thankfully, the authorities are a lot lenient on market days.
I remember walking in the busy market full of wonderful food treats, trinkets of local a arts and crafts, and of course Spanish football jerseys.
Then, there was the drive to Malaga that we made a few times.
From arriving into the city airport to heading there for some retail therapy, Malaga is a Spanish town full of culture and art and boasts being the birthplace of some prominent celebrities – Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas to name a couple.
I obviously remember doing the tourist rounds of the city, visiting the main shopping areas and the cathedral.
It was in Malaga, I remember, that my driving skills were put to test and I managed with only getting a few locals irritated.
I remember my friends, who made it special and perfect… you know who you are.
I remember having one of the best times of my life…