Thursday, 4 October 2012

An Inordinate Number of Spoons



Among the bric-a-brac, oddities and junk on offer at the local mercadillo, someone always has a stall with antique irons, rusted weather vanes and old cutlery. Every flea-market is the same. There will be boxy TV sets  too bulky for the modern Andalucian flat and townhouse. There will be mobile phones and digital cameras of dubious provenance. There will be incomplete sets of golf clubs and old-fashioned skis and barely-used cross-trainers. A man – it is always a man – will have a stall full of pirate DVDs, many will be pornographic. Or rather, two men will each have their own such stall; one British and one Andalucian. Moroccans will sell leather goods and second hand clothes, Danes and Dutch will sell herbs and potted plants. There might be a few stalls selling hand-made jewellery. Some of it will be beautiful and some not. Those stalls selling second hand jewellery will be the saddest of all. Wedding rings and engraved watches whose owners will most likely have died, unaware that their treasures are being picked over by the mercadillo magpies.  And the Germans will come, look at all the goods on display and buy nothing at all, except perhaps a beer in a nearby bar.
Yet all over Andalucia, from Benalmadena, through Fuengirola, all the way to Estepona; from inland Alora to Alhaurin, people flock to these flea-markets. Weekdays or weekends, it matters not, still they come. On the Costa proper, whether you are in Nerja or Nueva Andalucia, the tourists will visit these markets. They will buy stuffed donkeys or genuine Chinese sombreros - a kind of hat only seen in Spain in the days when Clint Eastwood was filming Spaghetti Westerns in Almeria. I guess Paella Western doesn’t have the same ring. Those tourists that have little girls in tow will buy flamenco dresses. These may also have been made in oriental sweat-shops.  
Those stalls with the irons, weather vanes and cutlery are often not actually stalls at all. Their wares may be laid out higgledy-piggledy on a large tarpaulin. Is it a reflection of the Andalucian diet that there are an inordinate number of spoons?

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