This morning I woke up to the sound of children playing in the courtyard outside the window of the monastery. The building looked completely different in daylight. It must be 400 years old. The whole town up at the end where we slept is very old, and the buildings are made of white stone or concrete. It’s so gorgeous.
I took a quick shower and made my way downstairs. The street was lined with ten foot orange trees, all of which were thick with ripe oranges. I would have picked a couple, except that stretched for half a mile in front of me was the Benissa Saturday Market- there were stalls full of Valencia oranges, local grapefruits and clementinas. It would have been rude to just reach up and pick someone else’s fruit. Also in the market were stalls full of clothes, cheeses, sweets, bags of coffee, loaves of bread, even some hardware and cooking utensils. It was amazing.
We sat down to have breakfast at a café right on the town square. We were joined by some of the nice people from the night before, one of whom was the guy who showed me to the Monastery last night. We talked as much as we could make ourselves understood about the International Brigades and the Hospital. They call them “las Brigadistas,” and they feel a tremendous kinship with the Americans who came to fight for Spain’s freedom and against fascism. It’s such an amazing experience to talk about something about which I feel so strongly with someone whose grandfather lived it. As we were waiting for coffee, the bells in the town square began to ring to announce midday. They were gorgeous and tremendously loud. As they were ringing in the noon hour, my new friend leaned in to me and practically had to shout “It’s like the bell de Philadelphia.”
I didn’t know what he meant at first. Then I realized- “You mean the Liberty Bell!”
And he nodded vigorously “Yes! Libertad! America! Like the Liberty Bell… and the Brigadistas!”
Oh, it’s nothing… I must have just gotten something in my eye…
Minutes later there was a tremendous BANG in the town square and all of the Americans jumped a foot. La Banda de Pere Bigot (which is actually a first and last name… there’s more about them here) was cranking up to walk through the streets and play music in celebration of the Feast of St Cecilia (I think). Marching bands in Spain announce their approach by throwing around these fireworks that are louder than a shotgun going off. Once everyone is thoroughly startled, they march around playing. It was kind of cool, except that there were three sleepy and slightly sick Americans and one Englishman who kept jumping a foot and a half every time one of those bastards set off another M80.
After our little breakfast, we went walking in the oldest part of the city and saw the old city wall. I love the look of Benissa. Looking up from the narrow brick streets, there are hundreds of tall, white buildings framing a deep blue sky. Parker took lots of pictures. I will post them as soon as I can.