the ghost of yotsuya (nobuo nakagawa, 1959)
semi-charmed holiday

native in nerja

On Sunday, we went to dinner with a friend my wife had made in a Nerja group on Facebook. It was a nice evening with an energetic companion. We spoke mostly in English, but it was interesting that occasionally she and I would lapse into Spanish, or perhaps more accurately, Andalusian (I'll get to that in a bit).

I was fascinated by her perspective, as a native not only of Andalusia but of Nerja itself ... she was born here in 1975. As we ate ice cream on the Balcon de Europa, as we have done so many times over  the last 20+ years, she offered her memories of being on the Balcon when she was a kid. It reminded me of when we once visited Stonehenge with friends who had grown up nearby ... to them, it was mostly just a place to play on as a kid (which apparently you could do back in the day). Our new friend loved Nerja, and in some ways her Nerja was an even more romantic place than for us tourists.

Throughout the evening, she related to the town differently, obviously. Walking past one restaurant, she said she waited tables there for her first job ... it had a different name, then. I asked her if she watched Verano Azul when she was young, and she replied yes as if the answer was obvious. Verano Azul was a Spanish television series, a teen drama shot in Nerja and shown in 1981-2.

She also reflected on the impact of Franco on Spain. One thing I hadn't thought of specifically is that, as she remembered it, Franco hated Andalusia and its people. He had tried to force the country into a unified Spain, forcing Castilian Spanish to be the only accepted legal language, and fighting against the regional cultures that lent diversity to the country. Andalusia was the hardest-hit area during Franco's reign of terror. Our friend said Andalusians felt separated from the country, which thought of them as gypsies at best, a culture that didn't even speak "proper" Castilian Spanish.

All of this added the local perspective to the tourist's view we have experienced in our seven visits to Nerja. It was not just a fun evening, but an instructive one.



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