I thought that Spain was supposed to have endless sun, but, for the month of September, all I’ve seen is rain. I thought that it was dry, that its reservoirs were only half full, and that just last year it was suffering from the worst drought in 70 years. But all I feel is wetness, as it seeps through my Puma shoes and soaks my socks and drenches me within seconds. I thought that I was going to have a year-round tan – David’s step-mother told me so when I first arrived – but I look up at the sky and only see a layer of clouds so thick that it seems impenetrable from any rays of light. And even now, as I write, the thunder is crashing just overhead. Soon, the sky will open up and the rain will fall, and I will be housebound for yet another day. For it’s not just a light, Fall drizzle that wets your cheeks, kisses your eyelashes and makes you appreciate the changing of seasons. No, it’s the pounding, unrelenting type of rain that forms lakes at your feet and is so unforgiving that it makes you wonder what in the world you did wrong.
David and I have gotten caught in it more than once. Out of pure denial, we have been flat out rebels. When we had an appointment to see a cafe/bar for sale in Altea, our recently discovered paradise, we ignorantly – and stubbornly – decided to do part of the trek by scooter and set out for the hour ride to Alicante. We proved victorious and arrived dry. But by the time we arrived by tram to Altea, the rain had arrived and there we were with our helmets in hand, no umbrella for protection, and the realization that there was no way to avoid the torrential downpour. Perhaps we could have found an umbrella if we had looked, but, unlike New York City where, as soon as the first drops fall, the umbrella street vendors have already set up shop, there was not an umbrella so conveniently in sight.
On our first visit to Altea, we had found the small streets all leading up outright charming. On this visit, as we battled our way upstream as a small river rushed downstream, we looked beyond the romance and noticed the practical. The underground water passage covered by an iron grate that funneled the rainwater down the winding street and straight to the sea greatly aided certain roads from becoming flooded. The overhanging semi-pipe strategically positioned at the edge of a steep incline cleverly directed the water from the street above to the underground passageway in the street below. Altea was designed to accommodate floods and, in light of this ingenuity, I realized that Altea has much more to offer than just beauty.
We had arrived early and had several hours before our appointment so we decided to get lunch. The restaurant was chosen hastily but turned out to be charmingly located in the bottom portion of a house. We arrived sopping and in need of cover, and they opened their doors to us and seated us at a cozy table near a window in the back so that we could gaze upon the rain that came down ever harder. And I loved Altea even more.
We visited the bar next. A cute little place near the old church and in the center of the old town. And then because the rain still wasn’t letting up, we decided to stay the night and found a cheap room that barely offered the basics and cranked the fan up high and carefully laid out our shoes, socks and pants to dry. Later, when the rains finally subsided, we ventured out and hoped for mercy. And we visited Altea by night. And it was magnificent. The town was quiet and fully ours to enjoy. We explored streets that we had not yet seen, and we stopped to pet a cat who started to follow us to the point that we named him Altea and wondered if we should take him home, and we marveled at Altea’s trash collection system (residents hang small plastic bags of trash from small hooks on the walls outside their homes), and we appreciated the jasmine that framed house windows and doors and added a beautiful scent to the evening air.
The next day we returned to Torrevieja and the rains continued (though we were lucky to get only slightly damp on the scooter ride home) and, since we have arrived home, our stubbornness has turned into reason and we have stayed indoors.
Shortly before leaving the U.S., my sister and I went shopping. I spotted a cute Gap raincoat. It was on sale and I liked it a lot but I questioned the practicality of such a purchase just when I was about to move to Spain. After consulting with Coral, we decided to throw reason to the wind and indulge in cuteness, and I bought it. As it turns out, the raincoat is cute and practical and I have no buyer’s remorse whatsoever.