24th November 2016. Ontinyent, Spain.

We had a late start this morning, we waited until we could hear movement upstairs before we interloped.

Poor Ronnie was in bed for most of the day feeling unwell so the 3 of us sat and basked in the sun on the terrace but he was feeling a little better in the afternoon so Beki took us all to Pou Clar a local beauty spot.  It was very beautiful.  The water was so clear in most of the pools which was strange considering the first pool we passed was green with algae and the water was running away from that.

The river was teeming with fish, varying in size from minute to very big (for a small fish but not for a whale) and some of them were an orangey colour.  I wish I had a filter for my camera so that I could photograph them properly.  We eventually came to an area where they’d made a small concrete dam, the fish loved it there, where the water was backing up the fish were congregating along the concrete ledge eating something, from above the water we could see flashes of silver as they twisted and turned to get at the food.  Ronnie pointed to some holes in the side of the rock face and told us that people used to hide up there during turbulent times.

Further down the hill by a large pool Darren noticed a herd of goats and sheep, Beki sidetracked Lily while she put her back on her lead.  The shepherd was sitting watching his flock nonchalantly wandering around nibbling at the grass and trees.

It would have been great to have explored further but I’d put a spanner in the works.  I’d asked Beki whether she knew of a hairdresser because my hair desperately needed doing so she’d posed the question to her Spanish friend Paco who told her his friend Eva is a hairdresser and Beki made an appointment with her for me for today.  So we had to rush back to drop Darren and Ronnie off then go into Ontinyent.

We arrived dead on the dot of 4 p.m. which was my appointment time only to find the shop closed (along with every other shop in the street) and it wasn’t due to open until 4.30 p.m. so we went in search of coffee.  Beki found 3 coffee shops and all of them were closed, we were just turning round to wander back to the hairdressers when she caught sight of some people sitting at a table outside a café so we rushed over there.  We entered the café with aplomb until Beki stumbled off the step and staggered into the room which made me laugh out loud.  When we’d composed ourselves Beki ordered 2 coffees in Spanish and the Spanish lady answered us in English, which is very kind but confusing enough to make my brain explode!

After we’d finished our coffee we rushed back to the hairdressers and this time they were open.  We bustled inside where the hairdresser was just getting an older lady ready to have her hair washed.  Beki asked her if she was Eva and the lady looked at her as if she was barmy so Beki showed her the messages that she and Eva had sent back and forth while making the appointment.  The lady just looked blankly at us and from the looks on the faces of the assistant and the customer I’d say they were all hoping that we would get the message and just go away!  The hairdresser shook her head and we realised this was NOT Eva’s salon so we left hastily (so hastily that I tried to open the door the wrong way) and stood where they couldn’t see us while we regrouped and tried to work out what to do next.

Beki’s friend had given us the wrong name for the salon so we scuttled past the salon window and up the hill back to the car.  I was quite happy NOT to go to the hairdressers by that time especially as the only hairdresser I ever go to is my friend Lucinda, going to a new hairdresser is quite traumatic for me.

Beki was feeling bad about the whole thing by then so she suggested walking down the road where we’d parked to see if there was a salon there.  It turns out there was AND it was open from 4 p.m. (it was 4.45 p.m. by then). We went inside and Beki started her speech again and this time we WERE in the correct place.  One of the hairdressers was busy cutting a man’s hair and we couldn’t see any basins, Beki got up to see what was behind the half screens and told me she thought it was a nail bar!  We decided at that point that I’d get my hair trimmed, go and buy some hair dye and Beki would do my hair for me but then lovely Eva came over and greeted us, her assistant took me to a chair and they started on my hair.

After I’d been in the chair for a while Beki had to leave to go and collect Matt and take him home.  I watched her go and felt like saying “Don’t leave me!” but as she went out of the door she promised she would return to collect me.

Three days previously I’d started learning Spanish with Duolingo which two Brits had told us about.  Up to that point I’d learned the words for boys, girls, children, man, woman, dog, cat, horse, crab, monkey, elephant, chicken, bird, tomato, potato, rice, apple and water.  I certainly wasn’t expecting to be holding a conversation for 3 hours quite so soon however that is exactly what happened, Eva was determined that I wouldn’t sit there feeling lonely so although she could speak only limited English she involved me in the conversation.

She asked me whether I had children and I spoke to her, her assistant and the other lady customer about their children, we had 8 children between us, 7 boys and one girl (the other customer had a 9 month old little girl, she showed me a photo of a cute little girl).  Eva asked me all sort of questions and after I’d tried to pronounce the words she and her assistant would explain how to say them correctly.  I discovered she was a vegetarian so we had a ‘chat’ about that too.  While she was washing my hair we discovered that we could both speak school girl French so we had a little go at that too.  They were very keen to know what time we ate our evening meal and they were incredulous to discover that we ate it around 6.30 p.m. they couldn’t get their heads around that.  I asked when they ate theirs, they told me 10 p.m!  They wanted to know what time we went to bed so I said between 10 and 11 p.m. so their next question was do we have something else to eat before bed.  I was rather limited to what I could say so I told them we eat pan y queso (I hope that means bread and cheese) we actually quite often have cheese and apple but I couldn’t remember how to say that (I remembered afterwards that apple is manzana) Eva shook her head and told me I should eat a banana to help me sleep.  They were saying that they don’t finish work until at least 8 p.m. having had a break from 2-4.  I can’t imagine doing that every day, it must be so hard to go back to work after the lunch break.

Eva was very like my lovely friend Lucinda in that although I was very happy to leave the shop with dripping wet hair she wanted me to leave with my hair looking perfect and it did.  I was very pleased with the end result.

Beki made another tasty meal and we did a lot more chatting.

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