By Deborah Wroe
Ah 10 days in Andalucia, the Lecrin Valley to be exact, deep in the Lecrin Valley, in fact right at the end of the valley, Albunuelas, the last stop, the end of the road, the back of beyond. Was it peaceful? Nope, what with the narrow streets and clippety clop of donkey hooves on cobbles, (40 donkeys apparently in the village) the early morning vans delivering bread, fish, fruit and beeping their very loud horns to announce their arrival and then at night the village kids being awake and noisy until very late after sensibly avoiding the midday heat and observing siesta. But, this we expected. We were under no illusions of a peaceful restful holiday with two boisterous kids in tow.
But the holiday started on a back hoof (donkeys – geddit), when Ryanair were on the hard sell, for three hours from Manchester all the way to Malaga. No slick enticing marketing for them, it was all about making a quick buck. It felt like every 10 minutes there was an announcement, which was in reality a selling opportunity. It was an assault on the senses, a captive audience being bombarded by the ‘lower your expectations’ airline.
We arrived jaded and hot and picked up the smallest hire car available, we had been pre-warned of the narrow streets. Our little car gave us freedom and flexibility and handled the small streets beautifully but struggled with the steep hills at the end of the valley. After reading about Bradley VII in the local press, the boys named our tiny hire car Wiggy to inspire it to climb the hills like an Olympian – it didn’t help.
Fast forward over devouring of best prawns ever, cold beers on a hot beach, waterfalls, and tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, to my point – signs.
Day six and I got stung by a jellyfish and it really rather hurt. Where were the danger signs? And I mean that literally not figuratively. If I had seen a sign saying jellyfish I would have gone nowhere near the sea. I am totally glossing over the previous day when a small child had pointed out ‘merluza’ (this is the word I heard) to me in the sea and I cockily passed on the news that there was a shoal of hake nearby. Back in the UK, consult dictionary. Spanish for jellyfish is ‘meduza’ – an easy rooky mistake, come on!) There were no warning signs, and after being stung, it suddenly struck us that very few people were in the sea and those that were had buckets and were catching the offending creatures (after they heard my scream). My sting had effectively been the warning sign it seems.
Back at the end of the valley later and we decided to eat out after my trauma. We went to a bar where we had previously only had a drink and some tapas. We wanted to spread the holiday love/Euro around the village. We got our drinks and tapas and I asked for ‘la carta’. This bar did do food, but did not have a printed menu. The owner told me she could cook whatever we wanted. I asked for a couple of things but she didn’t have them and said we could pre-order for the following day. That didn’t help us then, in the moment, hungry and ready to eat. We needed a menu, we needed a sign.
We had read online about a municipal pool in nearby Lanjaron. The beach had lost its appeal post jellyfish incident so we set off to find it. We crossed back and forth the quite small town and found nothing, nada, no signs at all. Eventually, I asked someone and got directions. A left turn past a hotel off the main street took us up a steep hill, (Wiggy struggled on) and about 10 metres from the top of the hill was a small sign ‘piscina municipal’. At least we knew we were there, better late than never. Said pool was magnificent, high up in the Alpujarras (and only €1 entry), stunning views and lots of shade. Why would they not signpost it better?
If you make the best food in town don’t you want to provide the customer with a menu that makes them salivate? Often people don’t know what they want until they know it exists. If you have the best pool in the area, and presumably need to recoup some of the costs of the installation and maintenance of the pool, wouldn’t you want to provide a big, prominent sign? And if you are suffering from an apparently rare invasion of jellyfish to your shores shouldn’t you educate and inform to ensure tourists are not put off returning?
Don’t push like the airline, but at least give some clues to your whereabouts or services. How on earth will people find you if not?