It was in Cork, in Port of Cork, below that sign, by the water, by the fire-staired factory buildings, the gray towers, in this silly-named Cork, the bobbing thing, it was in this Irish hilled town that I first mispronounced and misunderstood Malaga. It was there that I first laid the stress on the second syllable instead of the first, first thought Malaga was a southern region of Spain, a vast tract of farmland among hills, below mountains, instead of another port town, a town full of cafes and Erasmus students, a dried up river, a thin beach of imported sand. I know why I did it, misunderstood it this way back then, not caring. The Wwoof Spain website categorizes Andalusian farms according to which city they are closest to: 17 in Granada, 7 in Cadiz, 15 in Malaga, and so forth. I told some Spanish guys in Cork that I was going to farm somewhere in Malaga, you can imagine their confusion. But here I am in Malaga, and I am not farming, I am also not exactly leaving.
Instead. I am living here in an indoor bamboo treehouse. It is a room halfway between the downstairs (living area, kitchen, toilet) and upstairs (two small bedrooms, bathroom) of a dark, corner apartment that never gets direct sunlight. The treehouse was intended to be some sort of common room and instead got converted into a third bedroom to bring down cost, by use of thin sheets of bamboo, the kind you see in every trendy hippy store in the world, and large batiked fabric wall-hangings with Buddha or the Zodiac on them, the kind you find in the bedrooms of most European boys who also have bookshelves stocked with copies of the Tao Te Ching and biographies of Che Guevara. These staple decorative elements amount to this: I have a visually private space, which contains a bed, dresser, table, and lamp, but a space that is aurally distinctly...public. It floats in the middle of the apartment, receiving every sound (splash of sink upstairs, click of laptop keys downstairs) like a kind of bamboo surround sound sponge. Plink, taptap, awake.
Fortunately, the two German girls who live upstairs are moving back to Germany soon so I will have the place to myself. And it is free. The treehouse has been paid through the end of the month by my friend Ale, who went back to his home in Argentina for a while, leaving the room unused. I have a key—two keys—and I come and go as I wish. There is a bathtub with hot water to fill it, a hole in a toothbrush holder that I fill with my toothbrush, a washing machine, a table to hold my books, sheets and pillows, towels. I can make my own cheese quesadillas (in the land where Manchego is the big cheese, one pays dearly for sharp white cheddar but it´s worth it) and my own bed (ha).
I have friends I run into on the street and this is very pleasant. These friends are people who work in, or have worked previously in, or have stayed some time in, or are staying currently in, or are friends with any of the people who are staying or have worked in... a hostel called Picasso´s Corner. Jess and Maria and I stayed there at the beginning of January, and after my travels with Aaron and the stay on Shooshoos´s farm (more on this another day) I wanted to come back and see the people I´d met. And now I see them every day and it is amazingly simple to do this.
I would like to describe these people to you and show you pictures from my new camera but not now.
They know me in Café Con Libros and in Café des Indias! I am a genius at sitting in cafes with cappuccinos reading books. The streets are cobblestoned around the Plaza de la Merçed, which has an obelisk in the center and a bench where a bronze statue of Picasso sits, he is holding a pen and pad and has the look of someone who is exactly one moment from beginning the sketch. During the day he is just on the verge of drawing the pigeons that pigeon themselves around the foot of the obelisk, or the spanish students with their backpacks and skateboards who pack themselves on and around benches not skateboarding and visitors with digital cameras lifted to him who is lifting his pencil to them. At night he is almost, just almost, going to begin the sketches of drunk old hippies, young hippies with dogs, couples clicking to the next bar (never home), the blue lights strung on all the trees and the little shop across the square that stays open late, sells bottles of fanta, bocadillas, cheap milk chocolate bars, cheaper bottles of wine.
This square is most of Malaga for me. I wake up very, very late. I take a walk to the top of the Alcazaba. I stand with my body there over Malaga and the port that doesn't and does point to Cork and feel momentarily certain that Malaga has me, now. I have been here three weeks and that is all.
Wednesday I go to Madrid for five days, and after five days I
I return to Malaga maybe, but maybe on I go again.
The coast of Barcelona.