Out of Place

4 June 2011

Marbella, España

In Marbella, there are lots of palm trees. There is a lot of sun and lots of people who don’t think they should be here but make a holiday out of just that; drinking expensive cocktails with either Germans, Scamdimavians or Britons. The beach is a typical Costa del Sol brown. I get lost, walk into a park, and find some weird circular structure that isn’t a bull ring – is three times as beautiful, light shooting through the open features like it was meant to all along.

In a port, I spot a mobile phone on a bench and instinctively look through the messages for some from a mother or father to give it back. I look around and there’s nobody who seems to care about anything at all, just that the uncharacteristically silver and white benches are supporting their weight. I type some things into a translator, preparing for a call to the mother, when the grating below my feet rattles, and two twelve year olds zoom towards me on skateboards. I wave and hold up the phone, and there’s a metal-covered smile of complete relief from one, and a look of shock from another. It’s all very confusing until i hear gracias a few hundred times, so I give the gold bar over. ‘Thank you for not selling! Thank you!’ they say, between puffs and pants.

I’m from a long way away, but we’re not so different! Well, I’m thinking that, but I bet the kid is just happy because he’s got an interesting story to tell his friends, without any hiding from his parents.


It’s that time that should mean a lot to me given my health, but just doesn’t: dinnertime.

There is a humongous four star-like kitchen and dining room, and I haven’t seen anyone else in the hostel apart from my own reflection in the sparkling clean windows of the hallway. Yet, I hear a high pitched commotion as I near the kitchen, and suddenly my ears almost explode as I open the double doors to a room full of under ten year old girls and a handful of adults. There must be at least a hundred and fifty children in here, and they’re all running around, playing with food, spilling cordial and screeching. There’s no way around the fact that I’m out of place, but I need to eat. So, I navigate around the knee-heighters to the one and only spare table, which is already covered in dirty dishes anyway, and eye from afar whatever’s left of the buffet.

The food isn’t bad at all, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more than six varieties of meat in one meal before, but here we are among the screeching youth. It’s like every time I cut into the meat, I’m hearing a cry from the animal, which is much more disturbing than it sounds. I get up for a second helping, but then the lights turn out, and a huge cake is brought out with sparklers and candles adorning. Just when I thought little girls couldn’t make more noise as a group, they start singing some song, all out of time, and crowd around together. It’s so loud I end up taking a nice bite of my tongue from the disorientation.

I smuggle three apples and four tubs of yoghurt into my clothes and head out, head spinning, into my room, which is beautifully quiet. Apart from the stampedes of giggling and incessant knock and runs.

July 31st, 2011 6:42pm

Copyright 2010-2020 Oliver Lowe. All rights reserved.