*Palmless Sunday

Spain - Estepona 043Palm Sunday when growing up always meant family members would return home from church with dried palm leaves. When we came to Hungary, Ron returned home from Palm Sunday mass with pussy willows. Today in Estepona, Spain at the Church of Virgen de los Remedios they are giving out olive branches.

The weather was lousy today; it rained on and off most of the day. Estepona is a popular destination for Spanish and foreigners alike due to its beaches. They extend for 21 km of the Mediterranean coastline. Estepona sits with the sea on one side and mountains on the other giving it a micro-climate that offers over 325 days of sunshine per year. Today was day number 326, though: there was no sunshine.

When we ventured out in the morning the sun was not shining, barely trying to sneak a peek through the coal colored cloud coverage. The air was brisk; it called for a Spain - Estepona 041jacket. We did not have the lay of the land yet, so Kim wanted to take a taxi to the flower market. Although the taxi driver humored us, he did give us some smirks when we arrived about six minutes later. It was an easy walk had we done better research.

We did not attend services, but we did go to Church of Virgen de los Remedios. People, dressed in their Easter best, swarmed around greeting each other while the children chased each other with the olive branches. This church is the main religious site in the city, built in the eighteenth century. There was a convent attached until 1835.

Spain - Estepona 060Near the church is another symbolic structure of the city, the Clock Tower. Enrique IV of Castile, after conquering the Moors, had a Catholic church built over the remains of a mosque in the year 1457. The clock tower, once part of this parish church is all that remains.

In close proximity is the San Luis Castle or what remains of it. The construction Spain - Estepona 065ordered by Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella was intended as a protection again the Moors and Berbers in the sixteenth century. However, a French army razed it to the ground 1810. What remains are just the ruins. Prior to the beautification project by the city, one could walk past the castle ruins barely noticing it was there. Surrounding homes dominate the area.  We did find the castle, but there was not much to admire other than what was left of the construction after the rest had been destroyed.

When the rain changed from sprinkles to torrents, we scooted into an ice cream parlor on a square. At first glance, we thought it was one of the recommended places on our host’s list, but after ordering we noticed the brand signs. This was the same ordinary brand we can buy in Hungarian supermarkets. Though we were safe from getting soaked, we thought we hit gold when we saw signs showing WiFi. Fool’s gold for sure, the WiFi was not working.

Spain - Estepona 050As we were walking down a street back to the apartment, I was able to meet and greet “Leon”. If I could I would have wrapped him in my arms and carted him off with us.

In the early evening, we walked down to the lighthouse where we found an unexpected treat. There is an extensive garden area dedicated to plant life that grows in this climate, but which can also tolerate the salinity of the water, and is drought resistant if need be.

From the lighthouse we could see the Rock of Gibraltar across the waters and discussed taking a day trip there.

*This is a backdated post due to lack of Internet.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.