For a change it’s me that flies off, leaving Ruth behind in our lovely Emma.
It’s a strange start to my journey to Motril: 2.30am National Express coach Cardiff to Bristol airport, 6.05am flight to Malaga, coach Malaga to Motril, arriving at 1.30pm. I go straight to Nur’s surgery in time to see the last of his morning patients ushered in.
We greet each other with huge hugs and he drives us home to Las Almendras and after a light lunch I crash until 6.30pm on a very comfy bed with a view down the coast from the first floor of his extraordinary villa. I wake to a full house: Nur’s youngest sister has moved in with her 14 and 10 year old daughters, another sister, with husband Antonio, whose birthday has just been, and their son, about to turn 16. We are ten around the dinner table. I am placed next to a poet/singer friend of the family who inexplicably has three mobiles in front of him and hardly has time or free hands to eat – in the gaps when he does, he spontaneously breaks into song, inspired by the topics of conversation going around the table. Numerous tit-bits, a sort of Syrian tapas, arrive in a steady stream. Nur, like a benificent sultan serves, often treating me to the first taste as the newest guest. The main dish is a kind of middle-eastern shepherd’s pie – though more interestingly spiced than its British namesake.
It’s way past midnight when we leave the table and I’m asked to keep my bedroom door ajar, so that the ‘poet’ can use the en-suite bathroom. I find it hard to get off to sleep as not only am I being dive-bombed by a silent mosquito or three but the party downstairs seems to continue well into the night. At around 4.30, I go down to see if they can reduce the noise a tad, to discover the TV on and no-one there! I find the remote and am turning it down when the poet shuffles in from the loo and settles back down on a bed-settee. I finally sleep soundly and wake to find everyone getting ready for a combined Birthday shopping trip to Malaga. I decide to hitch down the hill to explore Salobreña with its moorish castle. By 10 o’clock I’m sat on a bench in front of a very modern looking town hall, writing post cards to Eva et al – it’s already a pleasant 18 degrees and I’m sporting a new straw hat to avoid a sun-burnt pate. I make enquiries, when buying stamps, about somewhere good to eat and am directed to ‘la Bodega’ where at 1pm they start serving a menu de dia for 10 Euros. I drop into a barber’s that I’ve also been recommended and as he’s fully booked for that morning he makes me an appointment for 10 o’clock on Monday morning.
It’s a steep climb to the castle, but the panoramas are well worth it. From the long beaches stretching as far as the eye can see to the snow-clad peaks of the Sierra Nevada. My mobile doesn’t really do them justice, but you get the idea…
By the time I get down from the castle and think about birthday presents for Antonio and his son Abraham, all the shops are closed. Thankfully I find some Medjoule dates and a fresh coconut in Lidl and head back up the hill to Dr. Nur’s after a very tasty Gazpacho, grilled fish and fresh salad.
I seem to have forgotten any Spanish I learnt last year and what comes out of my mouth is Italian with softened ‘c’s and ‘d’s, as I get to know Mario, Manolo and Chamaco who are re-tiling Nur’s pool.
The evening is taken up with celebratory eating and drinking and at one point Abraham is blindfolded and we’re all handed wigs, clown noses and ties and a lit birthday cake is revealed to a round of the international birthday song, whereupon Abraham has to open and model all his presents.
The next day, the house is very much quieter as Nur heads off to his surgery in a dapper white suit and matching shoes. After finishing Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth (I’m always fascinated, in his novels, by the peppering of subtle references to characters and situations which have their root in Suffolk and Woolverstone Hall – the school we both went to – this time the inclusion of our school motto Nisi Dominus Varnum), I hitch a lift back down to Salobreña where I discover the town’s only charity shop. I ask if they are raising money for refugees and one of the volunteers, a delightful scottish lady called Irene, tells me of the plight of many locals – not involved in tourism – whose children can’t find work and subsequently stay home or move into their grandparents’ houses, who themselves barely eke out an existence on their tiny pensions.
I buy a perfectly good pair of trousers and couple of english novels for 2 Euros. As I’m leaving, I realise how little this actually is and go back in and give one of the other ladies 5 Euros to put in the ‘box’. When I return the next day to buy a kitsch figurine for Nur (plus 2 100% cotton shirts and a silk scarf) Irene tells me that the other workers had been confused by my donation, asking whether I’d actually bought something else. It then dawned on me that I would need something larger to accommodate my purchases for my return home, as I’d packed everything in a tiny rucksack for the outward journey. As luck would have it, there was a sturdy little case which I just prayed would conform to Easyjet’s cabin bag measurements.
On my way back, I pass a photographer’s where I download and print a selection of pics from my phone. Once at Nur’s, I prop these against the figurine on the dining room table, which he’s delighted with when we sit down to lunch.
After his siesta we return to his surgery in Motril where he begins a thorough examination – just as he’d done almost exactly a year ago on our first meeting – blood, urine, heart, kidneys, lungs, echograph and x-ray: you name it, he has the equipment and two hours later he gives his considered prognosis. If the new medication he prescribes doesn’t radically change my bladder retention and control within the next few months, he recommends the total removal of my prostate. I hardly need to remind myself but this is why I came back to see this man. He doesn’t just focus on the prostate, as have the numerous urologists I’ve consulted over the past ten years, he looks at and perhaps more importantly, sees the whole person.
The homeward journey doesn’t run as smoothly as the outward one. I’m told there is no more room in the overhead lockers for my hand luggage and it’s put in the hold. To my horror it arrives on the carousel in Bristol, OPEN! I wait for the coach back to Cardiff but unfortunately nod off and miss it. When I come to, I root around in my suitcase for my new medication only to find it missing. I report this to the Easyjet desk and am asked to wait for the rep and for the police to appear. I very nearly miss the next coach to Cardiff but creep into Emma at 5.30 in the morning, cuddle up to a befuddled Ruth and crash…
For more photos of this chapter, click here
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