I, the last of the big spenders, took an actual taxi to the airport to pick up our rental car, and got there early. The woman in the GoldCar office told me I had to return at the time specified on my voucher — after which, according to the voucher, GoldCar had a perfect right to give my car to someone else without owning me a eurocent. The razor’s edge, you see! Her accent was thick and her manner abrasive as she demanded that I either buy 55€ extra insurance or cough up a 950€ deposit. I said, “Grr,” but I don’t think she heard me through the plexiglas partition that separated us, or maybe it was proper glass.
Later, we headed west and north toward Los Gigantes, the remarkable rock formations after which I named the canvas wardrobes I ill-advisedly bought for my use in Ramsgate in 2011. (They made my enormous attic-turned-study seem cramped, and I wound up giving them away.) I bought some posh (Pantene!) conditioner at a local Lidl, and we walked down toward the sea, bickering about whether we would proceed next to Masca, from which remarkable views may be glimpsed, but which is accessible only via the sort of very winding mountain roads that make the missus apprehensive to the verge of tears.
When we drove around on Cyprus in 2004, the roads were such that she had to fortify herself with cheap brandy. At the time, I was still terrified of llying, which didn’t faze her in the slightest. I suppose that, statistically, at least, there was a greater chance of my going off the road than of our plane crashing, but her fear nonetheless struck me as wacky. And this a woman who, in her pirate radio days, had to leap from ship to ship in the North Sea in skyscraper-high waves!
Once having abandoned the idea of Masca, we headed instead for Garricho, on the north side of the island, and what a very pleasant drive it was. Because I am barely able to lift my right arm any more, I steered exclusively with my left. We listened to what sounded to me (by virtue of the prominence of accordions) to Tex-Mex music, and I wondered if, just as America was besotted by British music in 1964, the Spanish had been besotted by Mexican. I hoped that we might be hearing one of those narcocorrido songs of praise commissioned (at gunpoint!) by and about a Central American drug lord, but my Spanish isn’t good enough for me to have known for sure.
In the evening, there was of course entertainment, with four married couples competing to show which was least invested in its own dignity. Wifey would behind over, holding a balloon between her thighs. Hubby would rush across the room and burst the balloon with hilarious pelvic thrusts. In another event, Wifey would guide a pair of ping pong balls up one of Hubby’s trouser legs, over or under his genitalia, and down the other trouser leg. We onlookers absolutely howled with glee, all while our MC, the hotel’s inescapable entertainment director, babbled unintelligibly in a strange combination of Canarian Spanish and UK English that I don’t think even the most generous chicano would have characterized as Spanglish.
But the fun had only begun! We were next offered an opportunity to pose for photographs with brightly colored parrots perched on our extended index fingers. The missus, a passionate believer in animal rights, found this appalling, and we returned to our suite, there, on the television, to watch Brits debate the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.