But not the end of the holidays! Welcome back to the blog, and as the teachers return to school and prepare for the children to return to school tomorrow, I remain here at El Parral on permanent holiday.
As it is my first September not returning to work, I was a little apprehensive about it: I didn’t know what it would feel like without the sudden September adrenaline hit of planning classes, putting up room displays, battling with an incompetent management to get the basic information needed to plan the term ahead, and coaching a dented 20-year old Fiesta back into the daily school run without more bits falling off it on the mountain hairpin bends from here to La Nucia.
You know what? I don’t miss any of it. As it slips unlamented into the past, my working life as a Geography teacher – while it was fun to do and sometimes rewarding – was just one part of a fairly active life which just continues as before. The daily chores on the donkey field, walking the donkeys, going for bike rides in the mountains, an endless round of badly performed DIY jobs around El Parral, and new local historical discoveries; all of this and more, and I am never bored. As the first week in September arrived each year, I used to think the same each time: “Wouldn’t it be great if the holiday could go on for another week?” But I didn’t know if that was true. Actually, it is true. The holiday just went on for another week and it is great, and next week it continues.
My daughter Alys was here in August and we managed to fit in a wide range of visits, local fiesta happenings, cooking, beach trips, shopping trips, and donkey grooming. That helped me get into holiday mode at home in a way that doesn’t normally happen when I am just at home, so I easily continued in holiday mood after Alys returned.
The great discovery of the summer was the Neolithic rock paintings in this province, and when we went to the MARQ museum – mainly to see the Iberian room – we chanced upon the “Rupestre” exhibition and ran out of time looking at it before the museum closed.
After Alys went home, I returned for a second session looking at Rupestre, and it is the first time I have returned to an exhibition to continue studying it since the famous “Picasso’s Picassos” exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London nearly forty years ago. Oddly enough, the Rupestre exhibition ends with an audio-visual connecting so called “primitive” art as an influence on Picasso’s work; although the specific rock art of Alicante was unknown to Picasso, being discovered mostly after his death.
And then the great discovery that some of the late Neolithic rock art (the Schematic period) was happening in these mountains around El Parral: not far from here is one of the great examples of late-neolitithic “eye art”.
No, I do not miss returning to school this week: I have 4000 years of human history to explore. But if you are going back to the classroom teaching in the Costa Blanca this week, good luck. Particularly if you have those notoriously rude Russian kids in your class. If you get their unbearable parents bullying you at parents evening, ask them about their gangster friend Putin and what happened in Salisbury.
Remember: humanity has known nobler times than these. When you connect with those times, there is still hope.