It's the weekend and time off from cactus clearing. A prickly job.
I wander off down the rambla early, walking into the rising sun for an hour or so, getting warmer as we go. Musing that the rambla, being a river bed, albeit without water, is likely to run down to the sea. Or another river.
I catch up with Andy, funeral plan man's visiting relatives. Alan and Alan are father and son, living in Torrevieja, up the coast towards Alicante. Both showed interest in the free life last time we chatted and we chat some more. I ask what they do. Alan the father cheerfully says, nothing. It's a theme with hard working folks who retired out here. Actually he plays golf. Alan the son says he does odd jobs, recently painted a house. He was rather scathing of my attempts up a ladder with a small brush. A long handled roller is quicker, he said.
He seems wistful about my travelling. Too young for golf all day, maybe too old to live with parents. They are walking three dogs and soon turn back, returning to Torrevieja today.
In town I find a pasteleria. A cake shop with coffee. Have a chocolate and sugar fix. Next a haircut. The trendy young barber has a Brit in the chair, a young Spaniard waiting and chatting. His hair looks short already, so I wonder if he is just hanging out. The Brit gets his hair expertly done with clippers, no scissors to be seen. The young Spaniard has his hair rinsed, then gelled so the top stands up. Five minutes and it's my turn. The barber speaks English, number 1, 2, 3? Two please. He assesses my head. Maybe two for the sides, three for the top, he suggests. You're the expert I say. He shears the grey and white, shaves the neck, €8 please. Good job.
A Latin American dancing group goes by, a festive thing I think.
I find a supermarket for some vegetables, bananas, honey (thinking about the road), chocolate. Then to Wassy's Bar for toasted cheese and tomato baguette. And a warm encounter with Val and Chris.
They retired here 12 years ago. I am drawn to speak to them by their soft south west accents. Cirencester. Chris was a carpenter and builder, employing twenty staff at one time. Spotted a barn with permission to convert in the Cotswolds, bought it for £100k, did the job, sold it for £500k. Those were the days.
His back is knackered now. Too much heavy lifting. And football, semi-pro with Oxford. They have two daughters, grandchildren too.
How about you, I ask Val, who has been quietly pretending to be the passive wife. Chris speaks for her, says she is too modest to tell it right. She was head of sales at Mitsubishi UK, based in Cirencester. Started as a temp, worked her way up. Lovely couple, interested in the free life too. They get it.
I mention the villas with the fences, gates, dogs. Yes, they say, ours has a low wall, no dog. Though there was a crime wave here a few years ago: roaming Roma, Colombians, dodgy Brits too. Mostly moved on now.
Dodgier Brits live in bigger villas round Marbella of course. Costa del Crime, retired gangsters.
Back to Ventarique, weather changing, veggie dinner, work tomorrow, Helpx possibilities in Portugal. A few more days, then back on the road.