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Was that June just flew by the window? Summer only really gets going in Conil once June has started, and June’s just finished without so much as a by your leave.
A couple of weeks in and green fields get baked to gold. May sees the end of the main wildflower season, but there are those that still hang on. Now the sunflowers in the nearby field have lost their petals, the seeds are almost ready to be harvested. The ones that don’t get crushed into oil will be sold from chucherías; small shops and kiosks piled high and dangling with brightly-coloured, sugary treats. The surrounding streets and alleyways get scattered with sunflower seed husks, especially now school is finished for summer, and the evenings are long and hot. Packs of children and teens, who have mastered the art of cracking the little buggers open with their front teeth, spit the husks to the ground. At least they’re much better for the environment than plastic wrappers but, round the pueblo, kids tend to throw plastic wrappers to the ground as well. I first saw the seedy, little addicts on my many visits to Turkey. I tried it a couple of times, but then gave up after the husks wouldn’t do as they were told. The more I tried to spit them out, the more they tried to creep in. The small amount of nourishment extracted wasn’t worth all the effort. The way small children chuckled and stared made me know how humiliated broken-beaked budgerigars must feel.
Conil’s ice cream parlours were still pretty empty over June. Little wonder when seven or eight new ones opened up over the last few years. And as far as the bars and restaurants are concerned, sulking and tipless waiters, with little or nothing to do, stared out of windows for the entire month. Though a few tables and chairs started to fill in the early evenings, nervous owners began to get restless against all the inactivity.
With the majority of buskers yet to arrive, the two in the photo are locals. Over June they played 60s and 70s American style rock to the few drinkers and diners gathered in Plaza de España. For a month they had it all to themselves, but now July is upon us they’ll have to do battle with the clown, and all the musicians descending on the pueblo for the patch. Professional buskers can earn more than €200 a night for four or five hours work, but the season is short, finishing abruptly at the end of August in one mass exodus.
Angelica is getting ready for the anticipated holiday rush for portraits. She has nearly finished an oil for one visitor, who spotted one of her portraits on the wall of a local hairdresser and immediately wanted one. Usually, tourists and holidaymakers prefer drawings. In the big cities artists start at €70 for a simple sketch in one colour. Though she is probably one of the best protrait artists in the province of Cádiz, she charges less than half that much of the time. Things are changing though. The oil portrait of the little girl on the left was commissioned by a client in Massachusetts. Other portraits hang on walls in Sweden, England, France, New Zealand and Germany. Click on the photo to see Angelica’s site.
By the way, for those interested in the alternative economy, Angelica is still getting paid by a family of Moroccan neighbours for one portrait in couscous and delicious bread. Every so often the doorbell rings and we are presented with a steaming hot dish or a paper bag containing a warm loaf. The flour they use comes from Morocco. That will more than do. Moroccan bread is not only Moorish it’s also extremely moreish. I suppose there must be people, who don’t realise how close the Muslim world is to Andalucia. Not only does the region share a lot of culture and a long history, the part of Africa we can see from our window on the southern horizon is the northern tip of Morocco. On clear nights we can spot the lights of Tangiers twinkling across the Straits of Gibraltar.
And while we’re advertising ourselves, you might want to read TheWaiter, a short story I wrote after wearing out a few bar stools round Conil, watching waiters ply their trade. It’s good for the pueblo’s economy, wearing out bar stools, I mean.
Copyright © 2015 Bryan Hemming
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