Famous for its Cherry Festival, which is held during the first week or so of June every year, Castillo de Locubin is around a 15 minute drive from Alcala la Real and is a village, quite a large one.
I have only been once, which was earlier this week, to see a friend who lives there. She's English and she wrote and told me to meet her in the square by the mosaic fountain. She obviously assumed this was the best place and one that would be easily found. She should have been right.
Castillo is a maze of steep, narrow streets and has no real centre to it. It also has at least three entrances from the main road and somehow, I managed to miss seeing the square as I entered the village. I wasn't concerned as I knew I could ask - which I did - for directions to the main square, or la plaza mayor. And I followed instructions and buried the Volvo deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of ever-narrowing streets, only just avoiding burying the front end into house walls, pedestrians and parked cars. And eventually I reached la plaza mayor - with the sinking realisation that this was not the place.
After a long chat with an old man, practically interrogating on where there might be another plaza with a mosaic fountain to no avail, I decided to go to find my friend's house - I hadn't been before but I remember her telling me the name of the street and as it's up for sale, I also have seen photos of the outside - perhaps she'd given up on me and gone home by now. Of course it would have been helpful to have had a phone but I didn't - I don't have a Spanish mobile (yet!) I saw the house and decided to park up nearby and walk around til I found her or found the 'square' that she meant.
For about half an hour, I trudged up and down the streets of Castillo, asking occasionally for a square with a fountain and being directed several times back to la plaza mayor. I decided to ask for a phone booth, conscious by now that my friend would have called Cesar and he would assume that I had 'crashed the car again' - and was directed to the park, right at the bottom of the village. And you've guessed it, as I rounded a corner, there in front of me was a big square with a mosaic fountain to one side - and my friend coming towards me.
All this is a pre-amble, but I feel better for it. I have quite good navigational skills and living with Cesar, I need them, though he still never entirely trusts me and wastes lots of time asking other people. My only consolation is that he doesn't listen to them either and will quite often drive off and do the opposite of what they've said. He can't help it, it's something innate in him.
(This is possibly quite a hormonal-driven piece of writing - life's like that sometimes.)
Where was I - oh yes, more justification required for me being lost in Castillo for 40 minutes - it was the use of the English word 'square' that did it - should have been 'park'. To the people of Castillo, a big square park in the most central position in the village, with a mosaic fountain, still could not be described as la plaza mayor - not even to a lost English woman, and who instead sent her to a small, insignificant place at the top of a hill that did even look like a main 'square'. It wasn't even square, it was round!
And move on to my second visit to the village, which was last night for the Cherry Festival. Which was a cheerful, festive event just as it should have been - with lots of cherries, cherry goodies, gazpacho with cherries (delicious) and a big cherry cake that was shared out for all to grab at.
(And we found a parking space a (cherry) stone's throw from the 'main square' as I now know all the streets in the village!)
Stalls and stalls selling crates of cherries - this display is of the prize winners - makes my mouth water all over again.
Competition entries for cherry recipes - there were several that we thought we'd rather like to try - but these were display only!
The giant cake that was shared out - another story in itself - at 11.30pm. We still have a lot to learn about queueing and the sharp elbows of the older people of Castillo... let's leave it at that!
There were lots of stalls selling the usual collection of toys, balloons, plastic dolls and yapping dogs - at ridiculous prices, really stupidly inflated and outrageous - and both Cesar and I were really annoyed to find out that one of the stall holders had been rude to Ruy, who was looking at the things whilst we were sitting down by the fountain - had actually told him to go away!! And as I'm having a warts and all sort of post here, I'm including my extreme distaste for people who have stalls full of things designed to make children want them - and then wave those children away whose parents are not near enough to hear their requests to buy. Ruy was a waste of space to them and made to feel so - not on in my book.
But onward, ever onward!
Romy did not go without her cake!
And we all sampled lots of cherries - which were delicious.
And the party went on..
Cesar swears he wanted to go dancing with me but by midnight, we had two exhausted children (those who'd been dancing the night before) and one who would rather not dance but be reading a book) - all asking to go home. So we left Castillo with its annual cherry party still in full flow - until next year.
P.S There's an edge to my writing here - or at least to me, as I am writing - and one of my labels is 'hormones' and just at this moment, whether you need to know or not, I am swamped by the little beasts and struggling to stay good tempered and patient. Writing about it and being honest helps.
I will now go and read the blogger whose blog goes by the name of 'Menopausal Musings'! Just so you know.