Childhood Spain – Sunburn and donkeys and coach trips
We didn’t use sun screen in those days, we used oil on our bodies. No one worried about skin cancer and getting sunburnt was just part of the holiday. We used large amounts of ‘after sun’ to cool our hot skin every evening. We even laughed about how red we were and how you could spot the new arrivals as they were so pale or so pink. I blistered on several holidays on my shoulders and back, but it was never considered a concern – how times have changed.
Highlights of the package holidays were the excursions. Early in the holiday you would select your choices and on the appropriate day we would pile onto the coach with our hotel issued paper bag containing out packed lunch. We visited caves with underground lakes, old Spanish villages that clung precariously to the hillside, waterfalls of icy mountain snow melt, vineyards with bodegas, potteries and glass blowing factories, to name just a few of the trips. At each we would buy souvenirs that would take pride of place back home on the mantle until our next holiday.
I collected a huge array of Spanish dolls dressed as Flamenco dancers, all sizes and colours, taking at least one home each year. Each year at least one person boarding the plane would be carrying a two foot high donkey wearing a sombrero, wondering why it had seemed such a good idea to buy it! But to me that was a symbol of the Spain I knew and loved – donkeys wearing sombreros pulling carts. Privately owned cars were few are far between in the rural areas in the 60’s and early 70’s, people used bicycles, donkey and cart or walked. Spain was a relatively poor country and the roads were full of potholes and bumps. The other common sight on the roads were old tractors – rusty, noisy and belting out black fumes – but pulling a cart in which sat the family.