My Memory Bank

Every Mediterranean Holiday I’ve Ever Had

Day something in the great lock down and my place is tidier than a monk’s cell so while I’m thinking of what past travels to write about, I’m sorting half a lifetime’s accumulation of trivia, travel books, cards and pamphlets kept from the last great tidying session when I downsized six years ago.   It’s been hard, but hey, I’ve managed to throw out two books, and at least five pamphlets I’ll never read again and I have put some of the postcards aside to send to friends!  The rest will have to stay put until the next national crisis.  More I cannot do!

So here are just a few pictures that remind me of happy times.

Sifting through my memory box I relive and recall trips which have slipped to the back of my mind.  These in turn encourage me to look out photographs, some prints, some transparencies which I must get down to converting to digital images one of these days.  Black and white prints, slides, then coloured prints and finally digital prints and computer discs. And then there are the old family photos and my husbands wartime photos in Burma to be sorted through one day.

It was the early sixties when we discovered a little village called Castel de Ferro when the son of the owner of the only hotel there jumped out in front of our car to stop us and invite us in to see the new swimming pool. Those were innocent days when we politely stopped and they actually thought it was a good way to get tourists to stay with them.

And stay we did, for two weeks or so, during which time the local boy-goatherds followed me around wherever I went. They had never seen a ‘foreigner’ before and when my husband took them all for a ride in the green Austin van we had in those days, their giddy pleasure knew no bounds. We spent many hours with them and we’d supply a picnic as they were on the mountains from dawn till dusk with only a few scraps to eat, caring for the skinny goats. On the day we left all the little boys were crying and it near broke my heart.

Spain opened to tourism sometime in the fifties, and those of us who went then were greeted with warmth and friendliness. Franco had kept Spain out of World War Two (it was a broken country after the Civil War 1936-39 anyway) but as he leaned heavily towards the Axis’ powers help was not forthcoming to re-structure the country. Until the advent of the Cold War and the West’s fear of Russia that is, when the need for strategic military basis and airports ushered in the Marshall Plan, and Spain, along with other countries in Europe received aid, mainly from the USA, which helped it get back on its feet again.

It took a long time though, for the infrastructure to get into place. For many years the roads throughout Spain bore the chalked message “Franco, Mas Arboles, Mas Agua, Mas Carreteras” (more trees, more water, more roads). Not only were the existing roads in dire states but there were few of them. The above photo of the car breakdown took place on the main road between Valencia and Granada. Our car hit a rock or stone in the middle of the road and combined with driving on many untarmacked roads throughout our trip, it brought us to a halt. Local farm-workers helped move it and we managed to limp on until we came to a repair shop/garage.

Nowadays Spain has some of the best roads in Europe.

The photo of Benidorm is of the town before it became the biggest thing in tourism and the Avenida Hotel (still there) was one of only a handful in 1959. We stayed there in a room where our balcony looked on to the open air cinema which showed mainly very old, heavily censored films, but with a cheap bottle of wine and some nibbles to enjoy, it made for a fun night. I say ‘night’ because the cinema didn’t start until midnight or later – no-one worried about the possibility of people not being able to sleep. You either slept or you went to the cinema. What? You want another option?

I think I’d better stop there as the post is getting too long. I’ve still got a bunch of photographs on the computer which I hope to downsize and caption and I’ll put a few more up after I’ve tussled with the garden where the weeds are in a defiant mood. I’ve got to get them under control before they master me.

10 thoughts on “My Memory Bank

  1. I have photo files, photo albums, scrapbooks and journals. And, ever since I decided to try writing when I left the Air Force, I’ve adopted a policy of ‘never throw anything away’. It’s standing me in good stead … throughout the lockdown, I’m posting a picture and a memory in my blog every Thursday ….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What fun to dig through these old memories, Mari. I love the black and white photos especially, and you look so happy in your photos! I can’t imagine Spain as you describe it, as I never went there until 2013. It seems like things were so much more adventurous in earlier days. I love the guy who invited you in to use the pool, where you ended up staying for two weeks. What fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Believe it or not, that is how most people found wayside motels and inns in the early days of Spanish tourism. We had a brilliant time there. We had a car crash there in 1961 and ended up in hospital for 2 weeks but we had so many visitors (still friends) our time was very happy. The case was heard in our room in the hospital and the driver of the overloaded Spanish truck got 25 years in jail and a hefty fine which he would never be able to pay. When we objected at the harshness of the decision the Judge asked if we wanted to plead guilty to being the aggressors! Very strange to our ways. When we returned to the UK we worked hard to get the young man off, as it wasn’t his fault. His firm had overloaded the truck, the roads were atrocious and it was in a heavy downpour. We managed to get the sentence reduced after strenuous efforts and a lot of money to grease palms but worth it. Still, I love Spain for its resilience, it’s drama, lovely people – and Lorca!

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