One of the best things about living in Spain is the fields and fields of crops. We pass by them when we’re on our way to see David’s family in their small village or getting lost trying to find the water reserve or when we’re simply just out and about exploring our surroundings. It’s refreshing to know that fresh produce is being harvested, that nature is being valued and preserved, and that the people here are still able to live off of the land.
We’ve seen everything from peaches and pomegranates to kale and medlar and David opens my eyes to all of these, for, without him, I wouldn’t be able to tell one crop from another. I also certainly wouldn’t have a clue what type of fruit a medlar is. (For those who are like me and unfamiliar with this fruit that David ate when he was a kid, check out Wikipedia’s definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mespilus.) And the best indicator of what’s in season are the outdoor markets – as the persimmons replace the artichokes and the peaches overflow in an abundance. Even the date and olive trees that occasionally line the streets are bulging with fruits soon to be enjoyed.
But persimmons and peaches aren’t the only things in season right now. There’s another type of plant that flourishes in Spain: marijuana. Though a taboo in the US, it’s a part of everyday life here. In fact, people smoke it here so casually that, half the time, it’s not even noticeable. After visiting a bar for sale in Altea, David expressed his shock at how casual the owner had been, and that’s when I realized that what I had mistaken for a cigarette was actually something quite different. And, once again, David opened my eyes to the facts of life.
We’ve caught wiffs of it coming from a parked car as we’re heading back from the market and we’ve seen a group of guys hanging out on the street corner smoking it. And we even even once sunbathed next to a sprig of it when we went down to the communal pool and noticed a guy paying unusually close attention to a crack in the wall. His attention got our attention and we looked closer to see what all the fuss was about. That’s when we spotted a head of marijuana carefully placed in a crack strategically positioned to be directly in the sunlight. He was drying it out for future enjoyment later, and he had no qualms about doing it out in the open, in front of all to see.
And for those who would like to harvest it themselves, we even found a store that just sells hemp seeds. Aisles and aisles of all different kinds of seeds – more than I thought could even exist. And with the seeds, they sell all the extras: dirt, lamps – anything and everything needed to grow a healthy batch. And they stay in business and they do good business because there’s nothing illegal about selling harmless seeds.
Though weed is definitely illegal, it’s alcohol that seems to be the real offender. Late at night, it’s not uncommon to come across police barricades controlling for drunk driving. And it seems like everyone has a story to tell of being pulled over and given a breathalyzer. And just yesterday, a story on the news announced that Happy Hour has been officially banned in Barcelona and the entire Catalonia region, as the authorities feel that it promotes the sale of alcohol. But it somehow seems cruel to take away Happy Hour during these economic times when business owners need ways to attract business and customers need ways to escape.
So, as the September rains fell in a fury, it wasn’t only the fruits and vegetable farmers who were worried about their crops. A whole different kind of farmer was worried about a different kind of crop – and just as anxious to see what this year’s harvest would bring.