Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Memorable Cruise, part 11


The Harbour and Marina

The Esplanade

Our arrival at Alicante couldn't have been timed better - or was it worse? We tied up at the large, under-utilized marina on the first day of the June Fiesta. Fireworks, marching bands, discos and ‘Barraques' were the greeting we received. The latter are public squares where during the Fiesta, huge papier-mâché edifices are erected. They tell of the history of the city. At the end of the festival, which continues for three days, these edifices are burnt to the ground. Each night of the festival is sheer hell, because there are discos everywhere, and they continue making their awful noise until daybreak. Being on the yacht that night surrounded by several of those ear-shattering sonic boom disco bands, plus gangs of inebriated youngsters, shrieking and crying, was unbearable, but there was no escape. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep.

The ablution facilities at the Marina were a disgrace. The only available toilet did not have a lock, nor did it have any toilet paper. Furthermore, the floor was covered with stinking faeces. The shower was blocked, so that used water flooded the floor and flowed beyond to the pathway outside. One visiting yachtsman declared that if the management couldn't get its act together by organizing service staff, then they deserved to have the waters of their marina polluted with effluent. Indeed, I saw the evidence of this sentiment put into practice, because there it was floating on the water by ‘Secant’.

I was not impressed with Alicante, apart from the Marina's restaurant. Gordon invited his friends, Douglas and Ena to dine with us there. The service, presentation and quality of the food were excellent. Our visitors were very good at telling stories, particularly anecdotes featuring themselves, but not without artistic licence. There was a moment of rare silence when Douglas ceased reminiscing, as he was distracted by an attractive young waitress who passed our table. Gordon remarked how lovely the pearl was in her bellybutton. She was soon forgotten as the stories continued, until it was time to leave, when the same girl presented Gordon with the bill!

Santa Barbara Castle in the background

The next morning it was sweltering hot, but this did not stop me from walking to the summit of a rocky mount to visit Santa Barbara Castle. There I had a grand view of the whole city and I could hear marching bands celebrating the Fiesta. Now and again there were loud explosions as fireworks were being ignited. On my way to the Castle I passed individuals exercising in the open air, invariably by themselves. I stopped to examine what at first I thought was a graveyard, but a closer inspection confirmed that the area had been confiscated by a number of people for the planting of flowers and shrubs. The piece of rough land had been transformed into a community rock garden where hand-written notes were attached to floral tributes. The donors had contributed poems and the details of people to whom the plants had been dedicated. The thought occurred to me that water had to be taken to the garden to keep the plants alive, a true act of devotion because of the effort involved in making the climb.

At the highest part of the castle there were enormous dish aerials for transmitting and receiving radio signals. I knew it was not a good place to hang around for any length of time, because of radioactivity being generated by the transmitters. I was concerned for a policeman who was doing guard duty in front of one of them, but my inability to speak Spanish prevented me from explaining my concern. Exposure for a short time at that close proximity was undoubtedly harmful to him.

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