COMFORT ZONE in the Costa del Sol

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This is a boring story. Difficult to believe, but amazingly it’s true.

About fifteen years ago I got to know a couple in their sixties from Cheshire. Albert and his wife Kathleen have a holiday home on the Costa del Sol. They occupy the property for the month of April. For the past thirteen years they have always turned up as close to the first of April as possible, arriving late morning on the same flight – always on a Wednesday. Once settled in, after a light snack on their terrace they take an afternoon siesta before changing for their evening meal at La Golondrina, a small restaurant by the beach.

They are not sufficiently confident to say “Hola” or “Gracias” in Spanish. However, when they arrive at the restaurant at 7 o’clock, they are expected.

Owner: “ Hola, amigos. Good to see you again. Here is your table by the window.”

The following day, a Thursday, the evening routine is repeated. At the crack of 7 pm (opening time), they arrive at La Golondrina and are welcomed again by the owner, Paco. Having accompanied Albert and Kathy on a couple of occasions, I can imagine the conversation:

“ Hola, amigos. Good to see you again. Here is your table by the window.”                                        ”Thank you, Paco”.

The procedure is repeated on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They always arrive at opening time and sit at the same table by the window. Almost all the customers are English and each day there is a special of the day. On Tuesdays, it is roast pork, on Wednesday roast chicken, Thursday roast lamb, Friday fish and chips, Saturday vegetable curry and Sunday roast beef. Apart from Fridays and Saturdays, the vegetables are always the same. They both have the special every day with a shared bottle of mineral water and no dessert. Barring illness or exceptional circumstances they are there from Tuesday to Sunday every night of their holiday. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

On Mondays Albert and Kathy patronise Big Ben’s Steakhouse in the town. Every Monday!

On the last day of the holiday, at the end of April, Paco awards them a free brandy at the end of the meal and they reserve the same table by the window at 7 o’clock for the following year. A week before they return next year Albert will phone the restaurant to confirm that all is in order. Meanwhile, Christmas cards will have been exchanged. It has been this way for thirteen years.

On very rare occasions, I have encouraged them to be driven along the coast to a Spanish restaurant for lunch. They were never interested in trying the paella but, being carnivores, normally settled for a steak. Being out of their comfort zone, they would then have to decide whether or not they had the appetite to support Paco at La Golondrina that evening.

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