Day Six

My body is starting to feel the effects of the constant stream of alcohol and rich food that has entered it these last few days. My mind is wearied as it assimilates half-digested Spanish sentences. Michel Thomas, the genius whose Spanish CDs have given me so much confidence, didn’t mention quite how fast the people speak. Overall, I feel distinctly fragile. If I was jolted I might just flake away. Another factor is that the fashion for drinking gallons of water doesn’t appear to have caught on here. In Britain, people carry around barrels of the stuff – it gives models their clear skin and longevity to all, apparently. In Spain, where most everyone’s skin is clear, they drink not a drop. The occasional coke, maybe. Coffee, beer, wine, sure. But for a hot country they hardly ever drink water.

Fortunately, we were off to Laura’s Grandparent’s farm, set deep within the Vizcayan mountains, where apart from an attention seeking puppy, it was extremely peaceful. The food was still rich and the drink still alcoholic, but it did my nerves no end of good.

After dinner, we watched the final of a Pelota Vasca (Basque Ball) tournament. Pelota is very much like squash, except it only has 3 walls not 4, is always played in teams and the ball is hit with either the hand, a paddle or a basket rather than a racquet. The game we watched was played with the hand (which is better because you can actually see the ball) and was first to 22. The opening points were very closely matched, but it was clear that the reds were going to win when Patxi (the blue closest to the front wall) got angry at himself for missing a point. I’ve been reading Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism, which explains how pessimism, blame and perspective affect experience. Every time Patxi cursed himself, his self-esteem ebbed away and thus, from being 7-7, the final score was 22-9.