It just dawned on me…
The best hour of the day, sitting on the terrace with a mug of tea, still dark, watching and waiting for Puerto to come alive. It’s never really quiet; you can always hear the sea crashing onto the beach, but no traffic noise as yet, except for the
occasional empty taxi heading home for a few hours as even the most ardent night time revellers have succumbed and sought refuge in their hotel beds.
The first cockerel clears its throat and is quickly joined by others as sound seems to travel so far at this time of day. Cock- a- doodle- doo they crow, or to be correct qui-qui-ri-qui, after all they are Spanish birds. Is that really the sound they make? If so then there is much more wrong with my ears than the ‘selective hearing’ that I have suffered from for years. All of a sudden the rest of the bird world joins in and there is a full blown dawn chorus, a bit premature as it is still dark, blame British Summer time. This wake-up call heralds the arrival of the first visitors to our bird table. The resident blackbirds quickly fill their beaks and soon depart to feed their latest brood. They are swiftly followed by the arrival of a squadron of cheeky sparrows, chattering away. Next in line are the ever cautious wagtails, never standing still, wandering back and forth, not sure if they are coming or going? Finally it’s the turn of those pesky pigeons and I am forced to get up and shoo them away, still my mug is just about ready for a refill.
I spotted a faint glow on a balcony of the hotel next door and then another, there was definitely something lurking in the corners, making good use of the cover of darkness and acting very furtive. The realisation hit me. What I was actually witnessing was the act of that social pariah, more commonly known as ‘the smoker’ getting his first fix of the day before the ‘I’ve given up’ brigade stab him in the back, figuratively speaking ,I hasten to add.
Lights start to come on in the hotel down the road as seasoned travellers compete for the dubious honour of being the first in the queue, determined that their breakfast egg will have a runny yolk. There is torch light in the pool area, no doubt the first beach towels of the day going out, some things never change. There is movement now on the balconies of the hotel next door as bleary eyed tourists venture out and quite bizarrely start twisting and stretching in what I can only assume to be part of a daily exercise regime. Quite why they feel the need to perform this ritual in public is beyond my level of reasoning, but my fervent belief in mankind is quickly restored by the realisation that none of the participants are men.
The local dog walkers are starting to appear, a quick circuit of the gardens for the less enthusiastic, pausing only very briefly for their pooches to ‘do the business’, looking around surreptitiously to check if anyone has noticed before reluctantly doing the right thing and bending to ‘scoop the poop’.
Hikers start to walk by decked out in all their regalia. Rucksacks, boots and sticks, maps and compasses at the ready and ridiculously overdressed for the climate, as they make their way to the bus station hell-bent on an early start to their next great expedition and the adventure it will bring.
Hotel workers pass, fortunate enough to be in Full-time employment and yet it looks to me that they are not exactly revelling in the prospect of another day on the front line, always smiling, always polite and trying their hardest to be friendly, at least for appearance sake.
There is an almighty bang as a front door slams somewhere in the building. A ‘neighbour’ who has an early start and is just letting everybody know, now that’s very considerate of him.
It’s just starting to get light and traffic is starting to build up. Delivery drivers are arriving early while they can still park. Recycling lorries are out and about before it gets too busy and the peace is quite literally shattered as they empty the glass from the bins. Early workers are heading in, expectant and excited at the prospect of finding a vacant on-street parking space, a rare thing indeed. The hiss of the airbrakes of the bus as it stops outside the front of our building. The first siren of the day sounds. I wonder if it is a real emergency or simply a very impatient ambulance driver intent on bullying his way through the traffic lights. I can no longer hear the sea; it’s drowned out as the daytime sounds start to take over.
Here come the ‘fair weather’ joggers, they turn right out of the hotel and struggle once around the block and then stagger back in again for a much needed rest. I am always highly suspicious of pristine ‘glow in the dark’ running gear when combined with lily white legs. Why is it that when on holiday people apparently get the urge to take part in exercise that is otherwise completely alien to them!
Oh, the girl upstairs is up and about and still wearing her boots, she is off to work you can hear her as she makes the descent to the garage, can count the steps all twenty nine, no, thirty of them. It seems that it is not only cavity walls and damp courses that Spanish builders have no comprehension of; add insulation and soundproofing to the list.
The ‘new arrivals’ are making their way out of the hotel. Having arrived during the night this is their first foray into the town, but as they get to the top of the steps and look out over the precipice you can see their eyes glaze over. They stand transfixed and you know exactly what they are thinking, that when the hotel blurb mentioned that it was situated close to the beach and convenient for the town there was no mention of the ropes and tackle needed to abseil down or the heart stopping, oxygen requiring ,climb back up. That is a slight exaggeration on my part perhaps, but you understand what I mean. For all but the most adventurous of these ‘newbie’s’ it means a quick about turn and back to the hotel to await the first shuttle bus of the morning.
When did the street lights go out? It is now completely light; the sun is threatening to rise above the ridge, and the promise of another great day, Puerto is now wide awake as is my wife and so ends another magical first hour of my day but with it comes the recognition that living in this town is not that bad at all.
By Brian Eldridge