Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

Of Car Boot Sales, New Beginnings and Beginnings of Endings


You know it is, you have only just snuggled into Morpheus’ unwilling embrace than the #&**%¿  alarm is going off, and you know you set if early for a reason, even if you can’t remember right off what it was!

Serves me right for drinking cappuccino at 9pm last night.  What was I thinking?  I never drink coffee at night, but I couldn’t think of anything else to have with ice cream, and I was sitting in an ice cream parlor!  I’d tootled down to the town center with a friend, to watch a promised display of line dancing.  It turned out that they were touring various establishments and performing outside in the street.  A troupe of sensational-looking girls, dressed in cowboy hats, boots, very short denim shorts and white vests, what they lacked in expertise (and they did!) they made up for in good looks, good humor and a sense of fun.  We caught up with them in 3 places over the evening as we strolled and chatted, and they seemed to be enjoying it more as the evening progressed.  Finally, the police shut them down.  I can only assume that some misanthrope had complained about the noise.  They really weren’t that loud, and were only doing four or five numbers at each stop, and it wasn’t late, around 10.30……get a life, someone!

Still and all, I should have been in bed, because my car was all packed with accumulated rubbish to take to the car boot sale in Guaza early, if not bright, this morning…………  2am, and my alarm is set for 5,  and I am still wide awake – the coffee!  When sleep does come it’s the sort where I am carrying on conversations with people in my dreams, and can remember them verbatim when I finally haul myself out of bed.  Cold shower and more coffee, this time strong and black, and two flasksful to take with me.

There is, however, a lot to be said for dog walking at 6am on a balmy Autumn day.  We are going through one of those rare times without the normally constant wind which cools our shores, and there is a gentle lapping of waves, which I can barely discern out there, and my skin feels, unusually, neutral, not sticky, nor chill.  I  avoid the beach because, well, no street lights, and too many shadows in the shallow dunes,  so I hold up my arm to cut out some of the glare, and  the sky is inky and deep with stars.  Makes me think about doing this more often.

As I speed along the autopista afterwards, berating myself for leaving one of the flasks behind, I’m surprised, as I almost always am, at the quantity of traffic on the road.  Of course, with tourist resorts dotted all along this coast, there is a lot of shift work, so I shouldn’t be  surprised at all, you’re rarely alone whatever time of night.  I’ve travelled up and down this stretch of road at all sorts of wee small hours, and there is always traffic.

However, less traffic than daytime, so Guaza is around fifteen minutes away, and now I am feeling excited, this is the first step in the latest round of easing stuff out of my life to make space for more important things, like travel and doing the things I love, so it feels like a new beginning, which it is.  It’s also the beginning of the end of a road in life.  Maybe that had something to do with the inability to sleep too.

By now it’s 7 am, but still dark, and the site is already two thirds to three quarters full.  I fret that I should have set the alarm earlier, but I’m reluctant to sleep here in my car, as many people do, to get the better pitches.  If I can’t sleep in my own bed, how would I ever catch some shuteye here?

I have time to get everything, including Guy’s old desk, out of the car before the hoards descend.  At least, everything I want to be out of the car first thing – I’ve learned to keep some stuff back, for various reasons – I am irritated by ridiculous offers for things which are not tat, and for which I know I will get a decent price when the mature, ex-pat community show up later, and there are things, like cds which are just too easy to pilfer.  They come out once day has dawned.  Right now, as I set up, day is just a faint suggestion which outlines the hillside opposite with a trace of backlight.

It’s a while before I get to my coffee, these traders, who come early are persistant, and whilst some bargain to the manner born (which many are) others reject prices which I think are obviously a bit on the top side to allow for the bargaining, and – duh! – do you really think I have a computer in that bag, or a camera in that other one???  Why would I bring them to sell here, where I’d get the worst possible price, risk theft and at best get them jammed up with dust?? No, my friends, they are just bags.   By the time the sun makes an appearance, I’ve already sold quite a bit of stuff.  Good start to the day.  I’m not expecting a fortune.  This is the first round, the shedding of my first skin of possessions, and most of what I have to offer  isn’t that big a deal.  The next round will be more profitable, hopefully, as some of the bigger stuff will be on the list.

It’s light.  Time to breathe and look around.  As always, it’s like the UN here.  There are women from Western Sahara in light  garments,  which wind around the head and look like a cocoon,  and some, younger women in djellabas. There are Senegalese youngsters who dress like hip hop stars in pants and T-shirts which look three sizes too big, and older Africans in vibrantly-colorful, cotton, print suits which look loose and cool as the sun begins to dazzle, now that it has eased its way over the top of the hill.  There are hippies who are refugees from colder, northern climates, the women with baggy pants or flowing skirts, and the guys with dreads.  If I close my eyes I can hear Spanish, Wolof, English, Arbabic,  German and other languages which I can’t identify.  Soon, when the day is a bit warmer and they have breakfasted,  local families will come, scolding tiny tots for playing in the dust, or trying to maneuver buggies over the rough ground, and ex-pats from Britain and other European countries, on the lookout for bargains “for their gardens or garages”.

Today, there turns out to be less expat Brits than normal, which is a shame for me because I have quite a hoard of books I want to unload.  Percentage-wise I end up selling more Spanish books than English.  First time in my experience a couple of English dealers pass by, and buy the couple of items I have which might be considered “antiquey”.  I overhear them rejecting a couple of bronze figures I’ve brought half-heartedly, having no idea of their value, which puts my mind at rest.  In any event, one broke in transit, so I sell them quite happily later in the morning.  I discuss my grandmother’s Westminster Chimes clock with them.  Lately, I’ve been wondering about letting it go.  The boys aren’t interested, and although my memories of my grandmother are interesting, there isn’t a lot of fondness, for various reasons.  It’s a link with my childhood though, and that I do remember with much fondness.  I ask them to ring me in a couple of weeks when I have given it some thought.

Time to bring out the “reserved” stuff.  The cds always sell well.  Most are rock ‘n’ roll and Blues, which I’ve now copied onto the computer, and there is always a market for those, usually young, male, Spanish, lovers of what is here “alternative” music as local fellow-blogger, Jack Montgomery,  described it recently.  My timing is good.  The surplus crockery goes for the price I’d earmarked, the juicer for just a bit less, but it puzzles me that the Moroccan tea glasses stick for a while – I think they are gorgeous, but then I realize that probably only North Africans will buy them, so I bargain, and they go too.

The sun is almost overhead now, and it’s merciless, out comes my straw hat.  There is no shade here in this open space, other than that which you bring yourself.  My neighbor, a delightful Argentinian guy, struggles to keep his tiny baby cool but protected from the rays too. It’s remarkable how the mountain clouds descend to such a precise point and then stop, as if afraid to come down further, warned off by the ocean.  It’s a feature of the weather at this time of year.  Last night in El Médano Ann couldn’t believe how warm it was, where she lives at around 500ft above sea level, the evenings are already much cooler, as the cloud filters down the hillsides in the late afternoon.

People take to all manner of ways of protecting their heads from the sun.  There are a couple of guys wandering around in those silly umbrella-hats (which suddenly don’t look so silly), all ashy, northern-europe legs, baggy shorts and Hawaiian shirts – recently returned snowbirds.  The Senegalese women have it all taken care of in their traditional headwraps, and are protected with glamor.  European women?  Straw hats of every type – the floppy, Mariane Faithful, 1960s kind (whoa but that shows their age, and just thinking that shows mine!), the now-ubiquitos panamas (making note to find something more original! but I still think Graham Greene when I see them in the shops!), teens in cowboy hats (okay maybe that wasn’t such a terrific purchase on my part the other week!). Of course, there are those flowerpot-men creations favored by certain cultures, loads of baseball caps,  and a few using umbrellas as parasols – and I thought the poking out of eyes was only when it rained!  My favorite of the day goes to a very flamboyant African guy in a triangular, Chinese hat.  It looks stylish, and I’m thinking that lots of cooler air must circulate in the pointy bit.

Acquaintances pass by, and it’s nice to spend time chatting.  One is a teacher from the school the boys used to attend, so it’s nice to catch up with what’s happening there, and……talk about books!   One is just back from Barcelona, another was recently in Nepal and India, destinations I’ve been craving to see recently.  He gives me web sites to check out.  Something to occupy me when I get home, although it’s hard by now to imagine anything other than drinking gallons of water, a cool shower and sleep, lots of sleep!

Finally, 11th hour, the desk sells  – to my delight!  If there is one thing I did not want to have to reload and bring back that is it!  Now my pitch looks much more empty, mostly, I have books left, a few items of clothing, an expensive wetsuit ( which I never had high hopes of selling here) and really not much else.  It’s been a pretty good morning, really.  Some of the stuff I’ve sold belonged to the boys, so I’ve netted only around €50.00.  Still, it’s the beginning.   This is to be put aside for next year, and it’s going to be fun watching it grow….now for that shower!


Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

7 thoughts on “Of Car Boot Sales, New Beginnings and Beginnings of Endings

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Of Car Boot Sales, New Beginnings and Beginnings of Endings « Islandmomma --

  2. Very evocative, both of atmosphere and emotions. I love the picture you paint of Guaza carboot, where I’ve promised myself never to go again! I love too the idea of beginning to shed, ready for the next stage. Brilliant post.

  3. Thank you so much! Did you go to buy or to sell? I think they must be very different experiences. I’ve never been to buy. Even when funds have run very low I’ve resisted. I was brought up in a household that had fallen on hard times, but had a lot of pride. Second-hand would never have been considered, which I now know is utter rubbish, but yet the ethos clings!

    I wrote a post once before about Guaza. A couple of years ago I had such a great day, meeting all sorts of people and having interesting conversations – far more interesting than the ex-pat gossip I had to suffer at work at that time! It was like a refreshing, cold shower after a trek in the desert! I was talking to people about books and music, and about how life in other countries was. It made me realize the truth in the “money isn’t everything” saying, not only does it not buy you happiness, but neither does it buy you experience nor intelligence.

    To enjoy Guaza you need sturdy shoes, sun screen, comfortable, loose clothing and ….. a hat!!

  4. Like you I’m a car boot seller as opposed to a buyer. not done one for a long time but methinks I am overdue to do one. the buying idea is soo tempting as just about every Antiques Roadshow has someone who bought some amazingly ugly thing for 10p which is worth thousands (slight exag.) BUT how much other junk have they also bought which is worth zilch?? the big draw back is also that early start and our awful weather which is not reliable.

  5. I went with a couple of friends who were “shedding”, and it was the first time for us all. None of us knew to keep valuable and small things back, so were surrounded immediately and harrassed, and plenty of stuff went missing. That was before it was even fully light! Like you, too, I’m from a background that disdains second-hand, and it’s a hard ethos to overcome.

  6. I know it’s daunting, but in 8 years of doing this now I’ve only had a couple of items stolen, and to be honest I couldn’t absolutely swear to that. Both were worth nothing anyway, so no tears. I’m really surprised you had that experience. Usually, I’m on my own yet I’ve never had a problem, and now I know what to expect it all seems perfectly normal. It’s pretty much how life is in some countries. It’s just a different way of doing things.

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