About 20 years ago I was living in a back to back in Leeds 6. I did a lot of reading, drinking Thunderbird and Special Brew and generally arsing around trying not to get a job, though I did volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau- I wasn’t a TOTAL waste of space. I’d read the Diceman and loved it, so one night whilst trying to decide what to do: go to pub, cinema, stay in, go to pub, sommat else; I threw in a random ‘buy a plane ticket to Spain’ as the last possibility.
Well what do you know? It came up, and I’m not one to ignore the Goddess of Chance.
So next day me and my mate Juliet did buy such a ticket and prepared to leave. One rucsac and ‘survival bag’ each, some suncream and probably toothbrushes- it’s hard to remember, in fact I don’t even know now where we flew from. This is partly because I had all my stuff including diary and camera nicked on our last day there. Upsetting, but strangely liberating that was. Luckily I still had passport and a bit of money in a bag round my neck.
Anyway, we decided to hitch up the coast from Malaga, ‘busking’ along the way. I could only play my tin whistle while looking at the music and my singing was awful. That’s probably why our trip was cut short after 3 months. We were picked up by police in Barcelona and taken to a police station where everyone else was male and looked Algerian. Apparently they were clearing up the streets for the coming Olympics- this might help you identify the year trivia lovers. They told us to leave Spain by the next day, so we went to book a coach to Amsterdam, as any self respecting hippy would, and that’s where my bag was snatched.
We slept in dry ravines, caves, houses if we were invited, and at some point we lived in a tent on a rough piece of land in the middle of Tarragona. Noone seemed to mind. Can you imagine doing that in Leeds?
I had a fantastic time, but never felt happy with the macho culture. The only women we met were young and unmarried, after that they disappeared indoors to look after their families.
Men didn’t seem interested in us except as a possible shag. I thought it was bizarre that they’d think some smelly English bird with a green skinhead and monkey boots would be up for it,but they certainly tried.
Among our many adventures were:
1. Getting chased around a village by a drunk nutter called Jesus with a gun – we’d complained about the corked wine at a local bar one too many times. That may have been in Nerja, it’s a drunken, adrenalin fuelled blur.
2. Being wined and dined by 2 lorry drivers at their absolute insistence, then thrown out of their cabs in the middle of the night because we wouldn’t have sex with them. We were probably lucky there. Made me sad cos I’d had some good conversations with my driver that day in my shit spanglish about his wife and family. Apparently they’d never seen a woman drink as much brandy as me- not sure if I should be proud of that, but I was then.
3. Being taken home by a lovely girl to her family home- they fed us delicious veggie food (hard to find in Spain), gave us a bed for the night, then drove us to their holiday apartment by the sea and told us to bring the key back when we left. Proper christians, who never once tried to talk to us about god, but I saw the books on their shelves
While we staying at this flat, we had the misfortune to meet a truly disgusting man (4) and had to leave in a real hurry, posting the key back with some ridiculous instructions as we didn’t have the address. I really hope it got there.
4. I was sitting cross legged on the beach meditating, well, listening to the waves and opened my eyes to see a barefooted man with long white hair and beard in a long white frock. He called himself ‘we’ as he ‘was the holy trinity’. He said they had a lot of knowledge to impart, which started out as sharing food but eventually turned out to be along the lines of ‘real freedom is sharing your body with pervy old strangers you meet on a beach’ and we started to avoid him. He was so creepy we did a moonlight flit and spent a couple of weeks looking over our shoulders- horrible horrible man.
5. Spending a night in a homeless hostel, where we were locked in a room at 6 for our own protection, as the only women there.
6. Hanging out on the Balcon de Europa in Nerja at sunset with gypsies playing flamenco. Bloody hell they were amazing. I could play about 3 chords and that hurt my fingers.
Overall I had much more fun than not, started my love affair with the Spanish language, but I was glad when I got back to Leeds. Even though I had to share a bed with a dog called Sprog for a while and started drinking way too much whisky. But that’s another story…
Luckily for me I discovered raving before my liver completely packed up. And therein lies yet another story or 3.