Living on the Mediterranean is a breathtaking experience, but its beauty fades slightly when looking at it through beads of sweat. More than just the humidity, it’s the intensity of the sun that makes the afternoons unbearable at times. So even though palm trees line the streets and the water is a clear blue, I soon found myself concentrating more often on desperately looking for shade than really admiring my surroundings. Just walking around Torrevieja required a survival kit before going out (don’t forget to apply sunblock, bring the water bottle to keep hydrated, wear hair up in a ponytail at all times).
It doesn’t help either that air conditioning is a rare commodity due to the high cost of electricity (or so we’ve heard – we have yet to receive our first bill). You’d think that you could escape the heat by going to a restaurant, but the inside is no better than the outside. Even the small side room with the ATM machine isn’t air conditioned, leaving you racing to withdraw the cash to get out of the closed in space that feels more like a sauna than anything else. (To make matters even worse, David has yet to get a debit card so, instead, is left to deal with a bank book. It’s efficient in that each transaction is stamped and recorded but it’s entirely unpractical in that it’s too big to fit in a wallet and barely fits in my purse. It’s also far from user-friendly. The first time we used an ATM, it took multiple attempts to figure out how to insert the book correctly. When we were finally successful, I made a mental note so that we wouldn’t be faced with the same problem later, but sure enough, the sauna ATM machine couldn’t read the book and after putting it in in every which way, we gave up in despair. The only upside is that going outside was actually a relief.)
Surviving the heat wouldn’t be so bad except that public transportation is also a rare commodity with buses only coming every hour or so and no time table to know exactly when the next bus will pass. This is definitely preferable to a city with no public transportation, but, once again, coming from NYC has conditioned me to expect certain luxuries.
Also, taking the bus was adding up. We had gone to Alicante a couple of times already and each time were paying nearly $30. Restricted by the bus schedule made me feel overall trapped, as just going anywhere became a heated outing.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before we started dreaming about buying a scooter. They are everywhere and when you’re on foot and one is racing by, it’s pure torture. Trying to not spend money unnecessarily, I tried to remain strong. We didn’t need one, we could get used to the buses, Torrevieja’s small enough to get pretty much everywhere by foot. But under the unrelenting heat, my guard started to melt. OK, well maybe we could but we’d need to buy a used one. So our search began… we visited scooter shops and asked about second hand ones. One shop directed us to a beaten up one outside. The body needed major work but supposedly the motor was great. It was owned by a girl named Donna who works at Burger King and who had traded it in for a new one. We called and left a message but got no response. (Ironically and just to illustrate how small Torrevieja is, the next day, we went to Burger King to get David a burger and ended up placing our order with a girl named Donna. David asked if by any chance she was selling a scooter. She said yes and told us that it worked perfectly but was overall pretty apathetic. She didn’t seem too anxious to sell it and we decided that we really weren’t too anxious to buy it.)
We looked online and found scooters for sale but they were being sold by people who lived far away and, having no mode of transportation and not sure if the buses even went there, we didn’t get beyond just making the call. Then, on one of our trips to Alicante, we stopped in a scooter store. We asked for a second hand one, and the guy showed us a nice one that he had bought for one of his employees 2 months previously but needed to sell it because the guy couldn’t get his license (or something along those lines). The miles were minimal, the price was at least 400 euros less than we had found anywhere else, the scooter still had 22 months remaining on the warranty and the deal could be finished that day. We were sold and less than an hour later, we had wheels!
And it has revolutionized our lives! It’s when we’re cruising along the coast, with the wind blowing, and the road racing beneath us, that living on the Mediterranean becomes breathtakingly beautiful! We’ve explored our surroundings, visiting small towns and villages and along the way have passed fields of palm trees and groves of authentic Valencian oranges and lemons, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have an experience like this. It’s on the back of our scooter that I can finally let my hair down – and not overheat. I have not yet gotten brave enough to take the wheel (or is it handlebars?), but, for now, I am more than content to sit back and simply enjoy the scenery.