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Peter Charon on the Costa del Sol

Memories and good times in and around Andalucia Spain from early childhood up until the present...and beyond.

Early memories
16 June 2015 @ 00:37

I first went to Spain when I was about 5! That's a long, long time ago. I went with my mum. She had friends who had an apartment in Sotogrande. We flew to Gibralter with BEA - British European Airways. I remember vividly that my mum was nervous about arriving late - I wasn't sure why at the time - but there was a good reason - in those days the border was shut at 11pm - and our friends were waiting for us on the "other side" - La Linea. We just made it.

I think we stayed for about 2 weeks. Even from an early age I was an adventurous eater! I loved Paella the first time I ate it and I still do. But one of the oddest things I remember was that I could buy a long stick of black licquorice for 5 pesetas. I honestly don't know what that would be in Euros today, but not a lot. And I used to stay up so late, way beyond my normal bedtime at home. We went to restaurants at 10.30pm - and there were so many younger Spanish children - running around, having fun, and no-one seemed to mind. Spanish people are very family orientated.

Somewhere I have a photo of me holding a monkey on the Rock! Even though it was more than 50 years ago I remember going there and holding that monkey. Now where is that photo?



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amogles said:
16 June 2015 @ 11:04

I first came to Spain when I was 7. We had an aunt who had a house near Aguilas. At that time buying property in Spain was still quite a rarity for foreigners. I think she had actually bought it in the late 1960s when Franco was still in power and many things were very different. But our first visit wasn't until 1978. We rented a house on the same urbanisation as her. I'm not sure how accurate my memories from then are as we went back many times since so I may have blurred things.

I do remember seeing many donkey carts on the roads. We drove all the way down in a red Mk1 Ford Escort and as there weren't many motorways then we drove all the way on country roads and it took us several days to do what you could now do in half a day. The roads were mostly sinuous and narrow and full of potholes and you were invariably trapped beind a slow moving lorry. If ever you managed to overtake you would soon be trapped behing the next. Not many people had cars then and those who did had Seats, which at that time meant license-built Fiat 500s. Most of them were white. Of course being small they were at a great advantage in the narrow streets of the cities. In that way tourists stood out much more then than they do now as they had larger and more colourful cars and also dressed totally differently. Many Spanish ladies then still wore veils and older ladies were dressed mostly in black. Whenever we stopped in some small town to buy refreshments or just for a rest we immediately attracted the attention of friendly locals who would make a big fuss over us children.

There weren't any supermarkets so shopping involved going into countless smaller shops where you were served at the counter and that invariably were run by elderly ladies and had lots of devotional religious pictures on the walls. Of course I had no concept of money back then but my parents thought everything was amazingly cheap.

My parents only knew very basic Spanish but discovered that especially the older men could often speak some French. Some had been POWs in France during "the war" although I never quite managed to work out which side this implied they would have been on.

Infrastructure than was pretty minimal. On our first visit the whole family was down with a stomach flu, although we never worked out from what, though possibly it was the water. Power cuts were regular and the water pressure also very variable.

I remember we were at my aunt's house once watching Spanish TV (which was all you could get back then) and a troupe of very scantilly clad ballerinas performed on screen. My aunt got upset and said that had Franco still been alive, he wouldn't have allowed it. I didn't at the time know who Franco was. But at that time in the UK you wouldn't have seen that sort of thing either, at least not during family hours.

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