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Why We Need Siestas

To read more travel humor please buy my latest book:
Where Are Pat and Ernie Now?

“What a cute little town,” my wife said. “Wonder if there is anything to do here.”

That had been hours ago.

We were in Almuñécar, Spain, a town of about 26,000 right on the Andalucian coast, which has a bonsai garden museum. I took a bonsai class about 10 years ago so that I could write about it. Now I have 50 or so trees and I promise them every time I go away that I will come home with exotic photos of other trees for them to see.

Looking across the Mediterranean toward Almuñécar

“And this one is over 100-years-old.”

“Ohh, ahh,” they say in their own quiet bonsai way.

The bonsai garden was great. They had a lot of Acerbuche (native wild olive trees) as well as regular olive trees, junipers, pines and more. I could have stayed for hours, but the azaleas starting closing up which meant siesta was almost upon us. I quickly took a hundred photos. Almost everything in Spain closes in the early afternoon for three to four hours for lunch followed by siesta. I didn’t even know bonsai trees took a siesta, but apparently they do in Spain. I’d have to be sure and tell my trees all about it.

Interestingly, Almuñécar’s bonsai garden was wedged into a residential area so that the backdrop for some of the trees was an apartment building across the road with laundry hanging from almost every balcony. They sell a lot of tiny combination washer/dryers in Spain that get maxed out holding one pair of jeans, a pair of underwear, some socks and a t-shirt -- my entire wardrobe at several points in life -- therefore, most locals forego using the dryer and hang clothes out instead.

Bonsai with laundry in background

“Cool briefs up there on the fourth floor. You don’t see that many guys wearing flora and fauna.”

Speaking of flora and fauna (note clever transition), earlier my wife found something on the tourist map called Loro Sexi, located on Calle Bikini, which sounded like something I wouldn’t be able to show photos of to my grandchildren. But it turned out to be an ornithological and cactus garden. They had lots of birds including macaws, parrots, LOUD peacocks and cockatiels. I took a class about cockatiels once and now have 50 or so. (Actually, I never took a class but I did have a cockatiel once that moved out with a former girlfriend. I miss that bird.)

Spanish-speaking parrots?

They also had meercats and a few sad turtles. At least I think they were sad. They may have just been contemplative. The “cactus” garden was mostly euphorbias, according to my wife, a docent at Lotusland. I thought we should tell the young lady with the pink hair and tattoos at the entrance kiosk, so she could remake the brochures and website, but we decided to let it go.

Euphorbias over Almuñécar

Not far from Loro Sexi was a park with ancient Roman ruins. The Romans really got around Spain and left ruins everywhere. These had been a series of ponds and a salt factory for processing fish. I had fish once, which were fun to look at until the algae in the tank got so bad I couldn’t see them anymore.

Roman ruins of fish procession plant

Speaking of fish (clever transition, take two), we also went to the Acurio Almuñécar, the largest aquarium in Andalucia. They have about 20 tanks with 200 local species. They also have a tunnel you walk through with fish above and beside you. Besides many fish and a large turtle, the tunnel had two huge sharks, which a guy was feeding from above. I guess they have to keep the sharks well fed so they don’t eat the other fish.

An under shark adventure

Speaking of eating (ct #3), it was now time for lunch, which in laid-back southern Spain lasts until you can’t drink any more cervesa or eat any more tapas, which was now. I gave the waitress a credit card. “The machine is broken. We sent it to the shop. But this is Spain, so we wait.”

We paid her in euros, then headed back through a huge flea market to get to our car. “Says here, next week is the Semana Santa celebration in Almuñecar, with events going on every evening,” Pat said.

“Wow, these sleepy towns are exhausting.”

“I know, let’s siesta.”