I love the first couple of days of a holiday when it’s too soon to count the days and you’re still discovering where things are. I was sure Sylvia’s misgivings about us not having a car were unfounded, and sure enough, later that first day I took a stroll round and discovered a mini supermarket that sold everything we could possibly want, including things I didn’t – like a full-size inflatable crocodile and yet more loom bands, both of which managed to find their way to the pool. A quick stroll along the beach revealed three restaurants, a couple of bars and a beach-side massage tent.
All that was missing were some pool buddies, and that was remedied later that evening with the arrival of two Canadian families. No sooner had the kids unpacked than Katy and their nine-year-old daughter were nattering away like old friends, swapping tales of school, mortal enemies and loom bands. Her mother and I met at the poolside and practically fell on other with relief. “Great – she’s got a friend!” we said in unison.
Turns out, being of Canadian pioneering stock they had already sussed out the neighbourhood and discovered a walkway over the motorway that means you can get to the mega-supermarket, ludicrously cheap and well-stocked Chinese emporium, pharmacy, bank and an antique shop big enough to stock a 1966 soft-top sports car in the window, within a five-minute walk.
Meanwhile we’d spent so much time outside that I hadn’t realised that Sylvia and Jose – the electrician – had been spending an inordinate amount of time buzzing around the house. After an hour or two Jose gave me the thumbs up and explained in a mixture of Spanish and sign language that we could run a bath in ten minutes. Great, I said, but first we need a plug (that stretched us both – it’s ‘tapon de la banera’ in Spanish should you get stuck in the same predicament). He was back in five minutes with a plastic one with a floating orange crocodile on the end – perfect. Ditto with the kettle? Yep, but this time he produced a more conventional model.
So what had he and Sylvia been doing all this time? Turned out the hot water boiler had been kaput, the dishwasher was broken and she was mortified that the sitting room curtain rail needed fixing. Nope, hadn’t noticed any of them… but should we need them they’re now all fixed.