The sun was high in the early spring, pale blue sky. It was too early in the year for the deeper, richer Mediterranean blue enjoyed by so many in the summer months. The sunlight glistened on the aqua sea, silver slivers sparkling on the rising swell of the tiny waves whipped up by the spring breeze. The tiny white horses rode along the coastline as tide and wind directed them from west to east along the balcony of Europe. Chugging along on the backs of the white horses a fisherman’s boat, its dull green hull contrasting with the sparkling blue sea dancing with light, passed on its way to the port. Nets stowed the men relaxed and gazed idly over the side at the sea-bed below, distorted through the prisms of water and light the crabs and small silver fish as a Picasso masterpiece – a giant claw on a stunted body, a discombobulated fish, its fins, tail and head out of proportion to its scaled body. The window of the white cabin sat proud in the centre of the boat reflected the sunlight preventing a glimpse of the pilot within. The singular became a parade as one after the other the little boats headed for their moorings, their flags, caught in the sea-breeze rippling from the stern.
In contrast the blue and white boats dotted along the beach were firmly anchored in the sand. Their hulls filled with the ground down remains of ancient marine life and topped with burning wood and charcoal they provided the funeral pyres for the fishermen’s cargo. Facing associated restaurants the burning embers crisped the skin of the sacrificial fish and released a taste of coastal fayre into the air where it mingled momentarily with the salt from the sea before being dispersed by the growing wind. A little oasis had been created alongside one of the boats; a patch of grass on the beach hosted a gaggle of palm trees whose fronds rustled and creaked as they danced to the rhythm set by Zephyrus.
Menus and serviette holders were scattered, ungainly ballerinas pirouetting across the wide Paseo Maritimo as Zephyrus increased the tempo. The brown veined white marbled tiles interspersed with red and black diamonds played host to a staccato of footsteps and the spinning of bicycle wheels as the people passed on their exercise regimes. The steps of the promenaders continued at their own gentle pace as feet clad in trainers, sandals and moccasins made their way there and back. The bicycle wheels turned at a sedate pace, the powering pedals turned in a lackadaisical manner – five gentle rotations, pause and glide, five gentle rotations, pause and glide – a gentile mechanical waltz. Along the paseo, rising up from a green canopy of foliage, a slender white tower climbed heavenward. Its sleek lines disturbed by the double balconies sat below the blue capped beacon, the torre del mar surveyed the coastline. In the foliage below parrots, their light green plumage camouflaging them, squawked and squabbled amongst themselves before flashing along the paseo, just above head height – avian speed freaks. Their comparatively drab cousins hopped amongst the restaurant tables in search of accidental food droppings or deliberate offerings to satiate their cravings. Their dark, beady eyes darted as they sought out tid-bits and the whereabouts of the competition. When beaks were full they retired to the trees and flower-beds to dine on their gains.
There was little to fear from the gardening ‘chain gang’ for the tiny sparrows as they sought refuge from competitors to eat in peace. The three municipal workers clad in their luminous green and yellow suits with grey reflective strips hacked lethargically at the ground with their implements. A system of two working, one resting appeared to be in place and much consternation, projected through shouting at one another, arose when all three took up their tools at the same time. Swiftly rectified the implement was removed from the ground by one labourer in order for him to strike a pose of well-earned respite from his toils. Pattern resumed, each in turn leaned nonchalantly and sipped from their bottle of water after a minute’s limited exertion. For all the seeming lack of effort the beds were weed-free.
The wind continued to grow in strength as it blew along the paseo and white clouds began to form, like puffs of candy floss, against the blue sky. The sand was warm, not scorching underfoot, the fine granular texture of sand not yet achieved in uniformity. Sharp, coarse shards of shell pricked the soles of the feet. One cloud grew apace and shortly covered the sun forcing those more accustomed to the Spanish climate to reach for an additional layer. The hardy few that had braved the beach began to retreat carrying sombrillas and towels, dusting their feet free of sand as they reached the threshold of the paseo. Camareros hovered by their tables hoping to entice the retreating parties to the refuge of their establishments.