The Invation of Polop

I know it (the smile) was still there when I woke up this morning. It was overcast and windy, but the temperature definitely hinted of what we at home consider summer. A little later the sun broke through the clouds, and sitting outside, just wearing a bikini was actually both possible and comfortable.
Now this is the way to go, and work, in November! I rigged up myself and my computer on the patio overlooking the yard, the pool and the mountains beyond. What a “screen saver”! With a cup of tea and a sliced, juicy Sharon fruit, I was all set.
I surfaced a few hours later, when we took a break and made a salad from fresh, mostly local, produce. We continued working till around 3 o’clock, when we were ready for some adventure and took off in the neat little Mercedes at our disposal. We ignored both maps and GPS and just set off in the general direction of the mountains. The road did not take us where we had intended, but as we ended up in the little town of Polop, embracing a hill with remnants of a close to 1000 year old hill fort on top, we were more than satisfied. We parked the car and walked up the steep and very narrow streets which were definitely made for walking, but, as we soon realized, also frequently used for driving. The drivers had no way of seeing what or who was around the next corner, but that didn’t seem in the least to bother them or affect their speed.
The view from the hilltop was a beautiful 360 degree vista, including both valley, sea and mountains. Not difficult to imagine why one would choose to build a castle up here. The steep hillsides must have protected the residents from a lot of attacks over the centuries, and its strategic location probably made a perfect control post for traffic to and from the Mediterranean.
The entrance to the area within the existing, and for a great part reconstructed, fortress walls was closed. Too bad, we thought, despondent. But not for long. A sudden flashback to a similar stunt some years ago, then at an island monastery back home, made us determined to find a way in.

Walking around the wall, in silent understanding, we looked for a weak point in the defense, and found it. A protruding slab of rock made a perfect platform from which to climb over the wall, which right here was a little bit crumbled and provided the necessary footholds. Once inside, giggling and in a great mood, we quickly sobered up upon realizing that most of what lay before us were old, open graves. How old we couldn’t tell, and there were no information signs to be seen anywhere. The degree of decay was great, though, and a lone shovel and a wheelbarrow with a punctuated tyre did not do much in the way of promising a full preservation or reconstruction in a very near future. With no info whatsoever our imagination could work unhindered, which it did, until we snapped out of it and made our way out again, happy and only with some minor bruises from the climb.
Finding our way home was no problem, after we had involuntarily explored a huge residential area, with 75 % of the houses not finished, and not likely to be in a very long time. It was like driving through a ghost town, and we pitied the people who had actually moved in here, before recession caused an abrupt stop in further building activities.
My friend has a great sense of direction, and as soon as I got used to the fact that she 50 % of the time says “left” when she means “right”, and vice versa, and started focusing on her hand signs instead of her words, I leaned back in the driver’s seat and relaxed.
Arriving “home”, we continued working till 8 PM when we cooked and had dinner. After which my friend called it a day and went to bed intending to enjoy an hour reading her book. I passed her room 2 minutes later, and seeing her fast asleep, removed her book and her glasses and turned off the light.
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