Just as the odd driver will brave the traffic coming up Market Street, Skibbereen, so they can cross from Drinagh Hardware to Drinagh supermarket – the odd Spanish driver will ignore no entry signs.
I have only seen a couple of incidents here to be fair. And both were female. Maybe they had children to collect or had some other reason. I wondered why heads were turned yesterday as I came out of the square at the driver of a large black car gamely trying to reverse into a space far too small having come up the street the wrong way. Maybe they were visitors and didn’t know where they were going.
The narrow streets here are mostly one way and some even have a notice saying only permitted vehicles allowed. Permitted vehicles mean vehicles owned by residents in the street. There are cameras which record the vehicles using these streets and there’s a fine of €70 for vehicles not recorded as permitted to use them.
I had wondered when waiting for the bus at the stop across from the police station where all the people were coming from out of a half glass building. I asked a girl the other day and she indicated that there was an underground parking area. There seem to be several of these around the town and there is an underground car parking area underneath the building I am in.
I noticed a Garda van as I crossed Church Square yesterday. Then as I walked down to the seafront a police car raced past me at much more than the speed limit, with all lights flashing and sirens screaming. I stopped and waited as I didn’t know what I was walking into. The police car stopped in the narrow one-way street, blocking any further access. There was a woman, dark haired, slim, mid-forties shouting at the top of her voice and gesticulating towards the narrow road which ran at right angles to the left of the street I was on. She was terribly upset, sitting on one of the wrought-iron benches which are liberally set around this central part of Fuengirola and along the beach front.
The policeman stood by her listening – well the whole street couldn’t help but listen to her and her language was Spanish. I noticed she didn’t have a handbag.
By the time I passed the policeman and the woman there was a queue of cars behind the stationary police vehicle which still had its lights flashing. Eventually one driver beeped his horn (rather bravely I thought) but the driver of the police car moved off and parked half way across the pavement at the entrance to another side street.
This whole town centre is like a grid with a criss-cross of streets which I am told means you cannot get lost. I have managed to get ‘lost’ a couple of times, but have kept going and have soon found myself on the right road again. With the beach to the south side and the main road through town to the north everywhere I need to be is somewhere between the two.
There’s an Italian ice cream shop which serves delicious but expensive ice cream. There I sat in the shade enjoying a double vanilla cone watching the world go by. Lovely to see all the families enjoying the sand and the sea. Scott or Scottie has Scoffers restaurant/cafe right next door to the ice cream parlour. He was closing up as at this time of the year he only opens from 10 am to 4 pm. He’s from near Livingstone, (between Edinburgh and Glasgow) an ex-Arsenal player and was a footballer for about five years until injuries put him out of the game. I asked Scott what was going on as there were other police cars patrolling the sea front road.
‘There’s been a spate of handbags stolen today,’ he explained. ‘There was a young French girl sitting there,’ nodding to the chair beside me, ‘and she was breaking her heart earlier today.’
Every time I go to any of the markets the stall holders have warned me to hold on to my handbag and I have the habit now of closing my hand over the zipped opening.
So yesterday was like paradise. Lovely blue skies and it was really hot – a bit too hot for some. Children were playing in the sand and others swimming in the sea and the whole image was idyllic. But for some it was such a distressing day. The Finnish lady I met at Jesus’s told me she had a shopping bag which she laid beside her whilst she picked up a shoe in a shop to check the size – for only a second or so – and when she turned her shopping bag had gone.
Now I have left my purse with credit cards and notes on the counter by the window in Skibbereen Post Office and driven around town before I have realised it was missing. Racing back to the Post Office and parking on a double yellow line I ran up the steps as fast as I could, and there it was waiting for me. No one had touched it. How lucky am I? I know my experience is not unique and many others have benefitted from the honesty of people in West Cork yet some will have experienced the other side.
Off to Tangiers in the morning for a very special reunion. So excited!