1995. The late September in Spain felt like a midsummer. Bea’s mother gave us a ride from Lugo to the beach at Figueroa in their tiny car with Aida, Berta, and Bea’s brother.
We never rose before noon. We only got to the beach after four in the afternoon because after we arose, we had breakfast coffee, and then immediately lunch. We had nowhere to be. Nothing to do.
For an entire week we were the only ones on the sprawling beach, spread out like a glittering gold cloth, the sun sparkling off the water. The water was cold and the waves were high, and when we jumped into them, I said Do you know they say that cold water makes your breasts more firm? and Bea said Qué venga! Qué venga!
I had my nose firmly tucked into a Penguin classic about D.H. Lawrence traveling around Sardinia, roasting lambs on spits in town after town. The other girls found it hilarious that I was reading on the beach. They were all on the beach trying to forget about the exams they were meant to be revising for because they had all failed every possible exam in June. They were not going to read unless their lives depended on it.
The sun angled low on the water as we swam without getting sunburned. The Spanish girls laughed at my one-piece swimsuit. They wore bikinis, nonchalant about their tight taut bellies.
Aida showed me the pile of brown potatoes in her parents’ storage by way of sightseeing. At night we went into the provincial bars of Figueroa for a beer and tortilla española and then perhaps to some nightclubs in the slightly larger town of Foz for whatever local mischief we could find.
Berta and I shared the guest room at the guest house of Aida’s grandparents: two tiny twin beds made for nuns with a crucifix over each headboard and a bath mat next to each bed on the immaculate tile floor.
I had never been to that part of Spain, before much less its abandoned beaches in the rias altas. It was quite possibly the most provincial beach experience I’ve ever had in my life. This might have been due to the one-street town with the ocean right across from it, but probably had more to do with the mountain of potatoes in the garage.