halfway up the steps of the Calvario

The Calvario Steps

The day is warm, the sweat beads on my upper lip and the sun warmed stones beneath me are slippery against my skin. The sun is waning behind me, dropping lower and lower towards the horizon, casting shadows that grow longer with each passing moment. The village clock chimes once, a high, solo note, signalling quarter past seven. Even the air tastes sweeter, the still, hot air more caressing, the arguing tourists passing more insignificant in this new found freedom. Ivy grows up the face of the villa across from me, artfully guided into a perfect arch above the doorway. Everything here is warm, ambient. The colours are terracotta pinks and warm beige; the stones forming the ancient roads are still warm from the Mediterranean sun that rested there, half an hour before.

It is past siesta time and everybody is out. It is mid August, the busiest time of the year in this tiny village, and yet everything is still, tranquil. The humidity muffles the sounds of the restaurants down below, the air too dense to allow the clattering sounds of cutlery and kitchen bells through. I feel as though I am the only person here, even though I can see, high above, a camera laden couple picking their way carefully down the stairs.

I try to imagine winter in Pollenca. The village blanketed in a damp cold that penetrates through to your bones, the cool, drafty stone houses would provide little relief from the biting chill. These smooth stone streets, would they be covered in a thin sheet of ice? Would there be a cap of white snow on top of the Puig? I can’t imagine it. Everything about life here seems to be adapted to this heat, under this oppressive, unwavering, almost ruthless sun. The tiny, hairless dogs seem as though they would hardly survive a winter. I hear them barking now, small intermittent yaps coming from houses all around me. Their feeble barks mingle with the growing and fading chatter of the panting tourists who pass me.

Casita on the Calvario
Casita on the Calvario

They walk confidently, the tourists, yelling at each other often, the women indignant, the men arrogantly knowledgeable. Some walk with an absent minded, almost confused air about them.They stop often to contemplate their new surroundings, and chatter to each other while pointing triumphantly at different landmarks.

The clock chimes again, three alto notes this time. It is a quarter to eight. A warm breeze has picked up, I feel a subtle shift in the evening. The sun has moved lower still, soon it will dip below the far hills into dusk, and later, Pollenca will be bathed once again in a sultry, hot, moonless night.


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