Last night, stranding at the bar in a brightly lit bodega in a side street of the main square Ronda, Rafa and I ordered tapas and beer. Ignoring the white linen-covered tables on terraces overlooking the Serrania de Ronda countryside, we chose this quiet bar, for its tasty tapas and great prices. I noticed that when I spoke in English I attracted some unflattering stares from other customers – I quickly went back to be basic Spanish and the faces looked away. This was not a place for tourists.
It was getting dark when we got to the bar. We had just watched the sun set behind the sierras – the air was already getting cooler. Here, up in the mountains, unprotected, Ronda is beginning to feel a little cooler – a welcome break.
We were in Ronda to see one of the shows in the Festival de Folklore – a international festival of folk singers and dancers. It was staged in the open air amphitheater, perched on the edge of cliff "el tajo" – a sharp drop down behind the stage to the valley below. From behind the open air stage, you could see beyond to the sierras and the caves – some illuminated for dramatic effect.
The Spanish performers were a young crowd, but one can’t help but be moved by the drama and passion of the flamenco, the powerful dancing and heartfelt singing; and of course there is something about Spanish guitar playing that is wonderful. All this is a dramatic open air setting seemed perfect.
Following the Spanish performers came a series of quick, one-item contributions from destinations as varied as Polynesia & Mexico! Russia was the biggest crowd pleaser, with its athletic men throwing themselves at the floor and doing rather painful looking things with their legs! Romania’s piece was little short of painful. Billed as the best folk group in Romania, it made me think that their culture had been more badly eroded by Communism that I had earlier thought! The audience stared at them, looking like confused puppies – what where they trying to do?!
As we left, at after midnight, there was a definite freshness in the air – is the summer over? As we drove down the Ronda road towards to the coast, we stopped to enjoy the view of Gibraltar and North Africa – the lights clearly visible across the strait. It was extraordinary that in just 20 kilometers, the weather could change so much. Standing there, in the darkness, with the bright stars above and the city lights of the coast below, we were surrounded by a blanket of hot air! A wind blowing across the strait from Africa, its heat trapped by the mountains that were now behind us.
Maybe there are a few more weeks of summer left after all.