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Sunday, November 30, 2014

There's something fishy about the Miss Sardine Contest


The first thing I notice is the cannery appears to be on hiatus – there’s no fishy smell.  I spend the day reacquainting myself with the town and spending time at the beach and the pool.  I visit Lola’s, my favourite beachside restaurant – the owner claims to remember me - but I think he’s lying – hoping for a big tip. 

A walk along the beach – a stop for a glass of wine then home to bed for a good night sleep – or at least an hour of sleep when I’m suddenly awakened by loud thumping music outside my window.  It’s so loud the windows are actually vibrating. A peak out my window reveals the source: the cannery across the street

It’s been magically transformed into a midway.  I dress and go out to see out what’s going on.   Evidently I've arrived just in the time for the annual Sardine Festival – complete with the crowning of Miss Sardine (this is the gospel truth – I can’t make shit up this good!)).   The festival runs for two days - and more importantly for me – all two nights!

The crowds are so thick I think I’m back in Pamplona – waiting for the bulls to be released.  (What do they do they do here?   Release the  sardines?)  

The hatches battened
I retreat back across the street to my apartment.  I notice my apartment is equipped with steel storm shutters.  I close them and draw the drapes.  Better the heat then the noise.   They must have noticed I've closed the shutters as they seem to be playing louder At this  point the nightly fireworks begin – and instead of letting them all off at once, they are unleashed at random intervals.   The music and fireworks continue until 5:00am. .  I try earplugs – no luck.   Finally I put in my earbuds and turn on my iPod and crank my music.  At full volume it is just able to compete with the noise outside – until the batteries die.  

I spend the next  day catnapping and lounging around then walk down the beach to the local tapas restaurant and overdo indulge in the tapas and beer.  While I’m munching and drinking I miss the crowning of Miss Sardine 2014.  I didn’t ask what the criteria were for choosing the winner (Don’t go there!).
The Miss Sardine winners
That evening around 7:00pm – which is seniors’ hour - I walk up the beach to find a place for dinner.  The rest of Spanish folk don’t eat until ten or later. I find a place that looks interesting - Spanish-Norwegian Fusion.  They have a sandwich board out front in Spanish, Norwegian and English proclaiming the nightly specials.  

The Cannery Midway
I pick one of the advertised specials only to be told they’re out of it.  The process is repeated with each of the other selections.  Finally I ask how can they be out of everything - I’m the first customer of the day! Finally I tell him to bring me anything –  surprise me - as long as it’s not sardines.

The night is a repeat of the first.  But at 5:00am a miracle happens – the music suddenly stops.  I open the shutters and let the cool morning air in and get about three hours sleep until I’m awakened by a horrible smell.  I get up and look out the window.  The midway is gone – the bandstand is gone - all replaced with an endless line of trucks carrying fish products out of the cannery.  In less than three hours they’ve transformed the place back and judging by the smell are working overtime to make up for lost time.
My flight home

You can get used to anything and in a few days I hardly notice the smell.  Before I know it it’s time to pack up and head home.   Perhaps I should have done my laundry before I left.  I notice there are few empty seats on the Air Transat flight home – but they all seem to be around me.  I hear someone complaining about a fishy smell.   I smile and reply it’s no wonder – we’re all packed in the plane like sardines.

Now it’s time to  start planning for the trip to Maritimes trip with Michele in a few weeks.

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