Saturday, 12 November 2016

Rivers and the sea

I didn't do much today, though I didn't have much to do, apart from an afternoon walk to the far end of Garrucha Puerto for exercise, and on to Vera Playa. Vera is 10km from here, but I guess the area the Municipality covers stretches down to the sea because the course of the rio Antas touches the town. Come to think of it, a few centuries back a river like this would have been navigable, making up-river trading possible for small coastal trading boats. Only when there's a massive sudden sudden deluge of rain nowadays is there any water above ground in rivers of this kind. Perhaps if I'd walked a few more kilometres I would have come to the river mouth, and who knows maybe discovered a pool of surface water near the beach, like the rio Aguas.

Over the weeks of my stay here I have been obsessing over a suitable word in Spanish that describes the rio Aguas coastal wetland. River water locked in by a sandbar, seeping away to the sea beneath the surface. I wouldn't use the word 'pool' in English, as it translates as piscina, swimming pool. No good. David kindly loaned me for a quick speed read 'Flamingos in the Desert', a book by Kevin Borman, local naturalist, and explorer of trails throughout Almeria Province. A few samples of his narration and I was hooked by his sympathetic style of descriptive writing, with lovingly described detail of the landscape, its history and stories about people and the byways of the region.

Inevitably, I had to select passages, with just an evening's reading before returning the book to him. So naturally I looked for Borman's account of the area I have been exploring during my time here, and in particular his account of following the rio Aguas from source to shore. I learned that as he had passed along the north side of the arroyo, from below Mijas Pueblo within the last few years, he'd been taken with the sight of a flock of serin rising from the bushes along the road. He mentions this once in just the same location where I'd been surprised by the sudden flight of a large flock of very small birds which I didn't recognise. Birds, like humans, are very territorial creatures, so I reckon the flock I saw was most likely another generation of the flock he reported. One more sighting identified!

The Spanish word Borman uses for this sand bar enclosed body of water is 'charco', which translates as 'pond' in English, although it's bigger than what one would usually describe as a pond and smaller than what one would call a lake. He mentions several other similar river outlets along the coast in the vicinity of Carboneras, as all rich in flora and fauna as the one I have come to know the past six weeks.

Word play is such fun in English. Across languages, one might never grow old again. It's nearly fifty years since I last tried to read Joyce's 'Finnegan's Wake'. Perhaps it's time I tried again, during the coming cold and overcast winter months in Cardiff, when it's almost painful to look at the sky.

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