By Simon Barget
The cicadas trill and the cypresses disgorge their aroma over the dirty brown ground. The tarmac of the path is riven, is fissured. The tarmac cannot hold up. The needles of the cypresses and pines interspersed, strewn around in the cracks and then the azaleas and bougainvillea giving off their sweet scent. All the while this insistent trilling, a belaboured chick-chickering. The sun hanging back amongst the impenetrable blank cloudmass. The clouds are wispy-white, grey and faint but still drawn out like a sheet but the sun pulses through making you look down if you want to maintain sight. No wind to speak of no wind at all. The heat is a constant, moderate but not scorching. But dry, dry everywhere and these pine needles all around. Over on the brow of the hill two perfect white houses a binocular’s view away. The sea is an afterthought; you can’t smell or know it unless you look down past these hills. The coast winds around it as if a long outstretched arm. Some birds but they are just of one type. There are no crows for instance; there are no butterflies. Plenty of flies once the bulk of the food has been taken and the wasps are tenacious and go for the salami as much as the melon. The birds are all sparrows, moving jauntily like they have only just hatched, just learnt to walk. They scavenge for flotsam then take frenetically to the sky, wings flickering like hummingbirds, airborne for a brief moment. Mostly they hop from one terracotta tile to the other. When night falls the trees become shadowy; you can only make them out in the cast of the floodlights. But you can smell them more keenly because you can no longer see.
At night in the town there is bustle. Queuing outside for the standing room of the long narrow bars, the esquinas. Calls for cerveza, for red wine, for house-prepared sausage, carpaccio of tuna, hunks of bread in wicker baskets, plates of mussels, snails in a murky brown sauce. In these alleys the high round tables with young locals perching whilst the overflow hugs the stone wall, chain-smoking their Camels. Their dark golden tans emphasised by their white linen blouses. They clamour on occasion, sporting awkward tattoos on the small of their backs which you can read when you happen to pass by. Mostly people are conversing, the staccato of chatter strongly reassuring. Mostly people are warm and satisfied, for the moment carefree. Mostly though, people are living.