the rest is still unwritten

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An UnBEETable Adventure 7: Feria, Cuevas and Frigiliana

October 9. The day after the wedding.

I wake up and slowly open my eyes to the blazing Nerja sun.

At that moment, I notice that Beets has started to rouse as well. We hug our good mornings and bask in the lingering happiness of the day before. We recount the funny and heartwarming events of the previous day and night and settle deeper into the warm and fuzzy bed.

"Gosh," Beets says, "Beets is really married."

Sidenote: The Twins do call each other 'Twin', and Beets calls all the Beets 'Beets'.

We both turn to my right and look longingly at the empty dent in the bed where Twin had been sleeping for the past couple of nights. Last night, however, as she had taken her vows and married Trip, she had moved rooms to be with her husband.

After a few minutes of "aww-ing", we finally decide to get up and at 'em.

Beets spends some time catching some sun on the balcony and I go wash up.


After texting my family back home (it was my brother's birthday), Beets (who was now a couple of shades darker) and I decide to run downstairs and catch the tail-end of the breakfast service.

At breakfast, it appeared that every member of the wedding party was equally afflicted with the lingering happiness of the past day's celebration. Everyone was smiling a bit brighter, smiling a bit wider, and pretty much smiling the entire morning. It was also a wonder that with what went on the night before (i.e. absinthe, tequila, vodka, sangria, etc...), no one was looking hungover.

After a few minutes, Twin and Triplet arrive and are welcomed heartily by the breakfasting wedding party. Naturally, people start to plink their glasses and the newlyweds happily comply. Smooch!

We spent about an hour and a half eating, chatting, laughing and eating some more. Just as we are about to head back to the room, Tita Mallorcina comes up to us and invites everyone to a lunch on the beach at 2:00 pm. We had just stuffed our faces at breakfast, and now we were already thinking about lunch?! Well, naturally, we accepted excitedly.


12:30 pm

Beets and I return to the room and get ready for an short afternoon adventure exploring the town.

Just as we were about to leave, we see Twin gliding towards us with a skip in her step. We greet the new glowing bride and ask her to come explore the town with us.

Unfortunately, she and Trip had a list of errands to attend to that afternoon before a group excursion at 4:30. The excursion itinerary included a trip to the underground caves of Nerja and a visit to the picturesque town of Frigiliana.

Normally, I would've been kadooper excited for more adventuring, but a naggy voice in the back of my mind kept repeating: "Funding low! Funding low!" My inner accountant had tried to dissuade me from any more spending:

Uh, do you really want to pay to see a hole in the ground?! And Frilalina... Fralonana? Why not explore Nerja... for free....?

"We'll think about it," I tell Twin.

"You better come," says Twin grimly. And with that, the three of us walk to the hotel lobby.


12:45 pm.

We meet Triplet at the lobby, and after a few bear hugs and laughter, they set off one way, and Beets and I set forth on our Nerja pre-excursion excursion.

Walking on sunshine!

We stroll out of the hotel and pass a different waywe walk towards the giant feria arc.

As luck (more like Twin's super planning) would have it, Twin's wedding was on the weekend of the Feria de la Angustias y San Miguel Arcángel.

It is described as:

"One of the big celebrations of the festive calendar in Nerja, 5 or 6 days of eating drinking, dancing and general enjoyment. [...] There are fireworks displays, processions, concerts and all sorts of activities. At 10:00 am each morning, throughout feria week, rockets alert the entire neighborhood (or province!) as to the start of the day's festivities which then go on until the early hours, at the very least!"

So, what with the high of the wedding and the feria, the atmosphere in little Nerja was anything but sleepy.

During that afternoon, there was a lot of this:
Stalls with an assortment of wares! Toys, food, collectibles and souvenirs!

Some of this:
Nyops and Penny. WHEEEEEEEEE!!!

And almost none of this:
Well, except for this.... zzzzz... ewewe uuh aaaahhh...

Overnight, Nerja's streets have transformed into a vast network of store-lined shops and stalls. In fact, a very familiar Disney sequence comes to mind...

"Good day!"
"How is your family?"

"Good day!"
"How is your wife?"


"That's too expensive..."

That last line could very easily have been sung by me!

After passing several stalls, one of which sold fresh slices of coconut for 2Euros a pop (that's about 114PHP!) we reach the arc.

Beets and I wanted to visit the artisan shop that sold ceramic goods. The hitch was that, first, we had to find it.

"I think I remember where it is!" I exclaim.

As that afternoon would later prove, I did not in fact remember where it was...

Anyway, we head through Nerja's winding streets, which were extra crowded that day, and try and find the little ceramic store.

On the way, Beets asks if she can hang on to my camera. Within two seconds of handing it over, Beets was immediately clicking away.

I would like to present the product of my camera in Beet's hands. I call this segment:


A Beets' Eye View

Hu-why is that tween checking out my butt?!


Beets really went to town with my camera! She was able to take a lot of pictures on what was meant to be our short pre-excursion excursion. That was because we had a lot of time. I.e. we got super lost...

Statements like "Hey, this street looks familiar, it might be this way," could easily be substituted by statements like: "Let's go down this random street!"

Our worries of a) not finding the ceramics shop; and b) being late for the lunch was overpowered by feelings of amazement and excitement at everything and everyone we saw as we made our way through Nerja's cobblestone paths. It was during this afternoon that Beets and I truly took in the vibrant and enchanting town that is Nerja. The colors, the scents, the sounds and the heat and frenzied excitement are truly unforgettable.


1:55 pm (remember, lunch was scheduled for 2...)

Just as we had made our second loop around the town (though were nowhere near finding the store, nor were we near to giving up looking for it) fate stepped in and saw us through.

We bump into Mito (Twin's younger brother) and his girlfriend (now finacéecongrats!!!) Maurie. We immediately explain how we've been desperately trying to get to this little artisan store with ceramic goods.

"Oh!" says Maurie, "I know exactly what you're talking about. I actually just bought a couple of things from there. I'll take you!"

Ecstatic, Beets and I set off with Maurie and Mito leading the way.

We walk about 20 feet and were soon standing inside the artisan store.

After realizing that we've walked past the store exactly three times, Beets and I exchange I-can't-believe-that-just-happened looks and burst into laughter.

We quickly apologize to Maurie and Mito who at this point looked as if they were watching two crazy people and thank them for helping us finally find our way.

We immediately realized that there was no possible way to make it to the lunch on time and ultimately decide to do a quick LAP (locate-and-purchase) around the store and head to the beach as soon as we could.

I try and look for the large blue-and-white cross I had seen the first night, and Beets heads to the back room to choose from the assortment of serving bowls and other table ware.

She finally decides on five serving bowls for her own home, a few smaller soup bowls, and a number of other ceramic goodies she wanted to buy as gifts for friends back in Manila.

Beets and Bowls.

As we surveyed our choices laying on the ground, we quickly realize that a) there was no way we were lugging all that back to the hotel room before lunch; b) there was no way we were lugging any of that anywhere period; and c) there was no way any of that would fit in our check-in suitcases. We head towards the front desk to ask the attendant about their shipping rates, or whether they even shipped at all.

As if we weren't already pressed for time, we reach the counter and find the store clerk busy jabbering on the phone. Twenty seconds turn into thirty, that turns into a minute and that into two...

After what seemed like forever and a day, she finally hangs up and says "Sí? Buenos Días."

We quickly explain our needs as she looks at us pensively with her head tilting from one side to the other.

"Hmmm... Philippines..." she repeats. "Un momento, I ask."

She then picks up the phone and starts punching in some numbers.

You have got to be kidding me! Another phone call?! I think to myself. "Uh Beets?" I ask while gesturing to my wrist to imply that we needed to go.

Beets replies, "Uh, Beets?" and shrugs her shoulders. We couldn't help but laugh. Finally, we decide to just come back later that day. That way we could check on shipping and possibly spend more time looking through the ceramic wares.


2:35 pm

Beets and I finally get to the restaurant and find Tita Mallorcina and the others already heartily lunching.

Papa Lee, Dardar, Captain Planet and Cuba. Tita Mallorcina is in the hat in the back =)

Before we knew it, an hour and a half of laughter and butete-ness quickly comes to pass. Before we leave the table, Twin turns to me and says, "Twin... You're coming to the caves and Frigiliana, we're leaving in ten minutes."

And with that, I was going to the caves and Frigiliana.

Before anybody has gotten far, Tita Mallorcina calls everybody back for a traditional post-lunch shot. It was one of the most curious liqueurs I have tasted. Well, first, it was neon yellow. And it was said to be both herbal and fruity; and that was exactly how it tasted, tooherbal and fruity. Plus, it was said to aid in digestion. Hmmm... a shot that helps you go to the bathroom right before going on an excursion? Might not be the smartest idea... Oh well! Cheers! I may or may not have had more than one...

After the shot, and a short stroll by the beach
Momsy, Sweet Pea, Preggy, Beets and Cammy. Sunny smiles!

we all head back to the hotel to freshen up and convene for the trip to the caves.


4:45 pm Paradores Lobby.

As we all gather and wait for the taxis that would take us to Nerja, an article in the newspaper puts a slight momentary damper on our spirits:

After a few minutes discussing bullfighting, we were alerted to the arrival of the taxicabs.

We step to the front of the hotel to find a small fleet of taxis waiting to take the wedding party to our next destination:


The cabs pull up to a circular drop off point. We all get out and wonder, "Uh, where's the cave?"
The place looked like an oversized terrace. Statues and fountains were scattered across the tile-covered ground. There were no cave-like structures in sight.

Take noteThis is Twin and Triplet outside:

Still a bit confused, we fall in line to purchase our tickets. The ticket booth was a small structure, possibly 12 by 15 feet, it was attached to another 'booth' which was even smaller. Out of the second booth, we notice two queues, one coming in, and one coming out, kind of like the entrance to an underground club. You know, made out of concrete, with a roof and an awning and velvet ropes and everything. "The cave's in there," points Twin.

Huh? I wonder, How is a "cave" supposed to be down there? I mean under that obviously man-made structure. Seriously... It looks like the entrance to someone's basement... You just wasted 6 Euros...

Well... Look at Twin and Triplet again above.



Now check out how they look in the cave:

I apologize for being a Doubting Thomas and have slapped my inner accountant twicesix Euros was so worth it.

The caves were unbelievably cool.

So we fall in line at the entrance and slowly go down the man-made stepsman-made, yes, but the steps themselves were sculpted from the stone of the caves.!

The outermost layer of the cave contains several 'holes' that allow sunlight to come in.

Beet Cave!

When you hit the first landing or station, there is an information display about the tour.

"This is so cool!" I exclaim.

"Wait til you get even deeper," say Twin with a sly smile.

Heeeey! That kinda looks like a... Never mind... Talk about rock hard...

As we descend even deeper into the cave, we reach a point where someone yells: "FOTO!" Time for a souvenir photo, you get two seconds to pose then FLASH! You just got your picture taken. Although a bit dazed by the randomness of the tour photo, Beets and I continue even deeper.

It was magnificent.

The cave was HUGE. It was so big you could put a stage and seats and have an opera in there. Oh wait. Someone did!

Lacrymosa dies illa...

Twin tells us that they do in fact hold concerts and operas inside the cave. AWESOME!

During the tour of the cave, I would often burst into song. At times it would be a line or two from an aria, but most times it was "Hi HOOOOOO!!!"

It takes a good 45 minutes to an hour to walk the entire cave-path.

While inside the cave, these were the things that I wished would happen: I wished that

1. the wedding party could play a super game of hide and seek.
2. the wedding party could spend a night here and tell ghost stories.
3. I could spend an afternoon cuddled in a little stone corner with a good book and a few bags of chips... and peanuts.
4. I would see some cool creature like bats or snakes or cave-dwelling fish.
5. I was a vampire so I could invite all my vampire friends here and throw an off-the-hizzy party.

Sadly, none of those wishes came true.

As I walked along the path, I couldn't help but feel the stones which we cool, sometimes wet, and at once both smooth and rough. The place was too cool. I told Twin, "I want this in my backyard".

Oh, in case you were wondering what it looked like if you looked up, well, it looked like this:

Finally we complete the cave circuit and find ourselves back at the surface. Many of us were so amazed by what we had just experienced, I mean seriously, it was kinda hard not to be. You could probably fit more than a handful of jumbo jets in there. The underground cave was HUGE!

Noticing that the cabs haven't arrived yet, some of us go to the refreshment stand to buy some ice-pops. The others engage in this
Massage Train! Not sure which is better, this or the ice pops...

As the others rest their feet on the marble steps of the drop-off point, Beets decides that she did in fact want the photo souvenir. She heads to the counter and falls in line. Right before her turn, I mean, with literally one person left ahead of her, the cabs start lining up. Members of the wedding party start getting into the cabs. Finally, Beets is able to grab this
and jumps into a cab with Pablito, Penny and I, and we speed off to our next stop:


In less than an hour, we were in a location that was completely different from the caves. We get dropped off at the town viewing center.

As we wait for all the taxis to arrive, Beets and I do a little exploring. We find a set of stairs that lead to a lower deck, naturally, we follow it.

The view was seriously GOR-JUS.

Let's do a quick recap of our location-theme songs.

Madrid walkways: La Vie Bohème from RENT
Nerja: Belle's Song from Beauty and the Beast
Cueva: Hi Ho from Snow White

The theme song for Frigiliana is quite easily

The hills are aliiiiiiiiiive with the sound of music!!!

Finally, the rest of the cabs arrive. We were only able to spend a few moments on our feet, because soon after we get on this:
Trackless Trolley Tour Train Thing!

We all hop on and go on a short tour of the picturesque little town.

Let's go!

The train, which has three or four cars, amazingly winds its way through Frigiliana's narrow cobble-stone streets. We were all amazed at how the driver was able to maneuver through the tight twists and turnshe could totally drive in Manila!

Frigiliana had a similar small-town feel to Nerja. The architecture was similar, but Frigiliana is decidedly more laid-back. Nerja's bustling beach scene is more favorable for those who wish to have a little seaside adventure, while Frigiliana's sprawling landscape and expansive views are more suited for quiet contemplation.

After the tour, we hop off the train and decide to do a little more exploring on foot before dinner. Just across from the viewing center, which is where the tour ended, was this:

My wish at that moment was that I could play on the slide and swingset. The Genie of All Things Childish must have heard my wish because it was granted! The gate was unlocked and I fit in the swing!
Penny and I pretending not to enjoy ourselves too too much.

Finally, the grown-ups tell us that it "really is time to go", so we huffily climb down the slides and head into town.

Beets again borrows my camera which leads me to the next segment:


A Beets' Eye View


8:00 pm-ish...

We finally reach the location for the last group dinner... sniff...

Before the town chapel
 was a small plaza that has been transformed into the outdoor section of a quaint little restaurant.

The restaurant staff zoomed in and out of the restaurant doors to rearrange the tables to accommodate 30 new guests. Finally, everyone is given a seat, and I take mine at the table with Beets, Twin, Triplet, Penny, Pablito, Futbol and Soccerhontas.

Perusing the menu was something short of an ordeal.

EVERYTHING sounded delicious. Since we wanted to try everything, Penny and I decided that we would share. I think the only thing we actually "shared" was the cup of soup. This was because it was the only thing we ordered one of. Penny and I each had an appetizer and our own main course. Bu. Te. Te.

At first, we were a bit unimpressed by the slow service. Eventually, as we started following up on our orders, our server (who we nicknamed Gaston) explained that for our party of thirty (and the other patrons there) was only one chef. One poor extremely frazzled chef. He said that she was doing the best that she can. Immediately an image of a woman standing on one leg in the middle of a steaming, cluttered and busy kitchen popped into my mind. Her disheveled hair stuck out from under her toque while she whisked with one hand, chopped onions with the other and flipped a steak with her other foot. We tell Gaston to tell the chef to take her time.

Finally, our food arrives.

Now, the appetizers were pretty hearty, but being Beets, we knew that there was still enough room for the main course.

Boy, were we wrong!

Penny's steak was so huge you could wrap it around your head and use it as a hood. Despite the combined efforts of the everyone at the table (who each had mighty portions as well), the steak could not be consumed.

My order was equally as impressive. I mistakenly ordered the leg of lamb instead of the lamb chops. The leg of lamb was so big that I would bet my own leg that it was heavier than my overweight poodle. Needless to say, I was not able to finish it.

Lucky for us, X was there. Most people are impressed by the Beets' appetites, but we bow down to X's penchant for eating.

Not only was he able to eat his own order, but he ate mine, Penny's and his tablemates' orders as well.

Good show sir!

10:00 pm

The usual joking, laughing and merry-making that has been staples of every meal in Spain so far belied the fact that this dinner was different.

An unmentioned sadness hovered over our heads. A sad truth. The sad truth that this would be the last dinner this group, gathered from all over the world, would dine together during this trip. The next morning, people would leave at different times by car, plane, buses and trains to different cities in different countries.

It was a dinner for goodbyes.

The optimist in me sees goodbyes as 'see you later'sbut that doesn't change the fact that sometimes, even saying see you later can be very very tough.

First I watch Twin and Penny say their goodbyes. Actually, this one was kind of funny. Penny (being the 'strong one') doesn't flinch. She merely replies, "Yeah, yeah... see ya..."

But next to say goodbye were Twin's two other sisters, Pards and Quin, and her brother, Mito. Waterworks galore.

I couldn't bear to watch her say goodbye to her parents...

When I finally turned back, I saw Twin saying goodbye to the kidsNyoppers and Reed. Waterworks galore times five.

Finally, most of the goodbyes have been said and the group starts to splinter, Twin's family drove a rental car from Nerja, and some of the others have headed to the viewing center to find taxis...

Operation Taxi Torture

We trudge towards the viewing center with heavy hearts. As a first, we have become momentarily overwhelmed by sadness that we forgot how excruciatingly full we all were.

Once we reach the viewing center, we notice that most of the wedding party is loitering on the sidewalk.

They explain that there is only one, I repeat, ONE taxi shuttling from Frigiliana to Nerja.

Math problem of the day:

A wedding party of 30 guests is stranded in the small town of Frigiliana. If it takes one cab 45 minutes to shuttle one way between the two towns, how many hours will it take to get everyone back to Nerja?

In shortwe were bummed. It didn't really help that we had just said our goodbyes, or that we notice clusters of people gathering at the curbsalso waiting for a cab.

"I will fight them!!!" was the general sentiment regarding the intruders.

Some of our party even considered jogging back to Nerjamuch to Penny's pleasure.

After a while the boredom set in. Luckily, the playground was still open! Beets, Twin, Nyoppers, Reed and I immediately cross the street, swing on the swings and slide on the slides.

The fun was short-lived because after twenty minutes or so, a taxi arrived and it was decided that the kids ought to go home first.

The group slowly got smaller as the kids left, then our elderly companions, then the women (although many gave up their seats for those with earlier departure times.)

As we waited, Beets and I decided to get a drink of water. We walk towards a restaurant just as it was closing for the night. Luckily, they agreed to let us have a couple of bottles of water which came in solid glossy royal blue bottles. Upon seeing this, many of the others asked in surprise, "Vodka?!"

Beets and I merely shrugged our shoulders and chugged. Haha Vodka, we wish! After admitting it was water, we offered it to anyone who would have it. We were then advised that more taxis have been dispatched and the wait shouldn't be too long.

In time, Beets and Twin were both able to get into a taxi. And finally, Q and X (who along with Triplet will be on the same early morning flight to Paris the next day) and I share a cab with Captain Planet and drive back to the Paradores.

Arrival time could placed somewhere past midnight.


12:30 am

After a short payment glitch with the cab (none of us had any more Euros, Captain Planet had to go back to his room and grab some from Cammy... Thanks Cam!) I finally plop down on my bed.

Ahead of me, however, lay the task of packing up my things to prepare for a flight to P-A-R-I-S the next morning. I enter a short relay race (I run from my room to Twin's to swap/return belongings, and from my room to the front desk to ask for an adaptorBeets' universal adaptor mysteriously disappeared during the pre-wedding melee) and after an hour and a half am packed and set to jet-set.

I look over to the bed and see that Beets is already fast asleep. I set my alarm and make a choice.

Bed? or Feria?



2:00 am

I decided to go to the feria to check it out. I mean, when else would I be able to do this right? I was also hoping to buy a few trinkets for my family.

After exchanging my last remaining dollars at the front desk ("Funding low! Funding low!") I step out on a solo adventure!

Now, I will never know exactly what happened at the feria, because on my way there, not far from the hotel at all, I bump into these guys:
Barca, Baby Girl, Q, Futbol, Soccerhontas, Yogi Bear, Iron Chef (X took the photo)

They were seated outside a bar on the main street, already enjoying their nth round of beer, and the bottles of leftover Absinthe sitting ominously on the table before them. Of course, I join them!

They tell me that they had actually been out on the town early and had gone to see the feria. This is what they did/saw:

Drinking and Dancing



Lotsa Games

Oooh! A Prize!

They tell me that they didn't really see any stalls that sold trinkets, plus I didn't really feel like squeezing through the crowd, so I was more than happy to just sit put and have a few rounds.

The conversation soon turned to how absolutely disgusting the Absinthe was. So, the next logical thing to do was to offer it to random people who passed by our table. Not very many accepted, but some did...poor souls. My favorite one would have had to be the girl who was unbelievably smashed, took the shot and continued to noodle-walk down the street. Don't worry, her more sober boyfriend was with her. He was wise enough to lay her down on the sidewalk where they both proceeded to nap.

Oh! I almost forgot! We were also visited by a familiar friend: Pepe!
Remember him?

Well, he stopped by and had a couple of shots. And then he sat down. I don't know what it is about Pepe, but he kind of struck me as, well, skeezy... I'm pretty sure he was being flirtatious with me, Beets noticed it too on the first night we were at the Buddha Bar. Plus he kind of reminds me of Quagmire...
Pepe = Quagmire? I think...Yes.

Finally, we decide that it really is getting to late and decide to head back. We did however, manage to convince our bartender (who was also the owner of the bar and said that Tuesday nights were Drag nightsDIE) to take an absinthe shot before hitting the hay.

Guy in blue: kind of a cuter Quagmire... PS. These guys are brothers!

After that super long day, I finally hit the hay and am out for the count.

Time Check: 4:45am


October 10

5:30 am

Alarm rings...Snooze.Snooze.Snooze.

6:00 am

I finally get myself out of bed and washed, Beets soon follows. All this happens in super slow motion. Grog-gy!

7:15 am

We finally get all our luggage downstairs and successfully check out of the hotel. However, there was a mix-up with the taxi/shuttle situation. In a huff and with no time to waste, Twin and Triplet settle with the drivers and they along with Q, X, Beets and I drive to the Malaga airport (which most of us spend sleeping).

A little before 8 am

We finally check in (through the use of charm and persistence manage to get to the head of the line) on time and are even able to grab a quick breakfast.

9:30 am

We board our plane to Paris!!! Now, most of us are desperately in need of sleep, so almost immediately after fastening our seatbeltsZZZZZZ.... I was seated next to X, and our peaceful napping was so often disturbed by the sweetest (evil) little girl who sat behind us and thought it would be cute (annoying) to Chun-li thousand kick our seats. As if that wasn't enough, she decided to have several shouting matches with her parents too... Aaaah. Kids.

Our need for sleep, the brouhaha with the cabs, and the demon-child passenger were not nearly enough to quell my excitementonce this plane lands, we were going to be in Paris...

Next upChapter 8: PARIS


Feria quote from: 
Image of Quagmire from: