Tag Archive | summer

Dancing at Malaga’s Annual Fair (And Roller Coasters Too, Of Course)


Malaga Fair Entrance Castle

So now it is true that some time has passed since the event of this post. But, well, it’s always nice to look back and remember: fond memories, exuberant summer nights, amusement rides, ferris wheels and dancing till the next sunrise. We’re talking about: the Malaga Fair.

The Malaga Fair occurs in August. So why am I writing about it now, in October? Well, because I didn’t have time to write about it before (seeing as I was too busy zipping about to places like La Linea de la Concepcion, which you can read about in the following post, or Barcelona).

And also because, as I said at the beginning of this post, a little bit of nostalgia never hurts!

Malaga Fair Lights

Now that everyone is all settled down in their workplaces or school desks, it’s a good moment to linger over those simmering days and balmy nights when you were free. No schedules to run after. No traffic jams. Just good fun all night long.

At the Malaga Fair.

Malaga Fair by Night

In Malaga the annual fair, which as I mentioned before happens in August, takes place in 2 locations. On the one hand, you can boil and broil a bit at the Day Fair which is located in downtown Malaga. This year we didn’t go, because unlike the majority of people I work during the summer. Hence no daytime photos.

Malaga Fair Cute Cottage

This is one of those weird set-ups that they like to put out on the streets. It’s a fake cottage designed to imitate the old country-style farmhouses with traditional Andalusian décor that used to dot all the mountainsides. You’re supposed to pose inside this cottage with your typical flamenco costumes and get your photo taken – for a price, of course.

At the Day Fair, people put out bars and stands on all the streets in the centre of the city. You can enjoy typical southern fare like crispy fried fish, chorizo and other sweetmeats on rustic brown bread. You can have a treat of paella, or indulge in some sumptuous seafood delicacies.

Flamenco and Gypsy


And of course you can listen to flamenco and dance (although the muggy weather lends itself quite a bit more to siesta-ing than dancing).

Everyone dresses up in traditional Gypsy costumes to go the fair. Women wear long dresses with lots of ruffles and gentlemen (and little boys) get all got up in vests and wide-winged black hats.


Although I was unable to take a picture of people sumptuously attired at the Day Fair, I did manage to capture a glimpse of what some of these Gypsy costumes are like during the night.

Malaga Fair Kiddy Ride

And at night is when all the fun begins!

Malaga Fair LightsPeople come to life at night. Not surprising, because the daytime temperatures (at well over 105 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s 40º Celsius for people sitting around here in Spain) on a typical summer’s day, as you can also discover here in this hot post) cause everyone to wilt and faint.

The night-time fair is set up on the extensive fairgrounds at the edge of the city. You can walk there, like I do, because the night absolutely URGES you on a stroll to take the cool breeze! But if walking isn’t your style, or you live on the other side of town (or outside town), there are frequent buses the whole night long from every neighbourhood and neighbouring town.

Malaga Fair Castle Entrance

There are lots of things to do at the night-time fair. The kids and I are wild about the rides, and that is the only thing WE do there!

Malaga Fair Ride

There are at least 4 or 5 different roller coaster rides. My oldest and I love roller coasters, so you can find us on top of every one of them at some point.

You also have water rides, spinning rides, bouncing rides. And kiddy rides. For my little kid. Roller coasters and bouncy things just aren’t up his alley, but kiddy rides? He’d get onto 50 if he could!

Malaga Fair Kiddy Ride

If velocity and thrills just aren’t your piece of pie, you can still enjoy the ferris wheel. It’s very tall, and the views from the top are utterly breath-taking. Malaga at night, with its dazzling neon, spread out all underneath you at a bird’s eye’s point of view.

Walking Around Malaga Fair

A lot of people, however, aren’t into any sorts of rides. They are into food and drink. Concerts and dances. And they certainly receive their fill in the hundreds of little tents (casetas) where typical fare is served, beer is guzzled, wine is tasted and lively music sparks up the atmosphere the whole night long.

Malaga Fair Castle Tower


La Línea de la Concepción

Well the time has come for a new travel post! This time we’ll visit a little corner where tourists never go.

Yes I know I said that about Barcelona, and then ended up still putting up photos of touristy places anyways. Well what can I do? Pretty much ALL Barcelona is quite touristy and there is something worth seeing in just about every corner of that enchanting city.

However this time round we WILL indeed go someplace a little off the beaten track. So I thought we’d go to La Línea de la Concepción.

The Rock of Gibraltar

So, where in the world is that, you might be saying. So yes, that is how far off the beaten track it is.

No tourists, no tourist attractions. Just a tiny, humble little fishing village. Well a fishing village with a MAJOR petroleum refinery, perhaps.

Even so, you may have passed through La Linea at some point in your life. If you’ve ever been to Gibraltar, then unless you arrived winging over by plane from the UK, you’ve been to La Linea.

Gibraltar The Rock

La Linea earned this name by being the borderline: the border between Spain and Gibraltar.

For a long time ancestral rivalries between Spain and England kept this borderline closed. You couldn’t enter Gibraltar by land. The Spanish government re-opened its access to this rock in 1985 as part of its measures for gaining entry into the European Union.

Gibraltar CannonGibraltar Coat of Arms






Gibraltar is a fully sovereign, self-governing British overseas territory, which means that its citizens, in addition to being Gibraltarian, of course, are also British nationals. All of its internal affairs are locally governed, but the British government oversees everything and the Queen of England is its head of state.

Gibraltar Garden

However, this is not a post about Gibraltar, which, being strong, famous and a popular tourist destination, can pretty much hold its own in the world.

Today it was my intention to speak, rather, about La Linea.

A good percentage of the population of La Linea depends on Gibraltar to bring bread into the household. This is the case of my friend in La Linea too, who works cleaning homes and yachts on the rock.

Nonetheless you will still see a good many fishermen casting out their lines on the beaches, especially at dusk, or taking out to the seas in their little boats.

La Linea and Africa
You can see how close Africa is in this photo. That long strip of mountainous land across the way there is Africa. Looks like you could just swim right out there, right?

Unfortunately for hundreds of thousands of aspiring African immigrants, it isn’t that easy. There are very treacherous undercurrents in that little strait!

Unlike Malaga, La Linea is small and quiet. Most of Malaga is filled with tall buildings. Most of the homes in La Linea, by contrast, are small one- or two-storey houses built the traditional way, square-shaped and without a sloping roof, with an interior patio.

This makes it a very hot place in the summer, because there is no shade!

There isn’t that much to do in La Linea, I found. Unlike Malaga, it isn’t bustling with a lot of exciting places to visit.

La Linea Beach

There are a few parks. One of the really nice ones is the one inside the City Hall grounds. It’s enormous, with different sections including, of course, a large playground for kids. Which is pretty much the only thing you will notice if you travel with kids.

This time we didn’t enter Gibraltar, although we visited it few years ago. So if you are on the look-out for these 2 little mites that you can see in these photos, running around somewhere on the streets in your visit to Malaga, rest assured that they are hardly little mites anymore!

They still play in playgrounds though, and very happy to do so I can assure you!

In the summer it is almost impossible to do anything during the day in La Linea. Except move around on the beach.

At night is when most of the action takes place.

La Linea Nightlife

I personally would not like to live in La Linea. The people aren’t particularly friendly. I took my friend’s gigantic dog for a walk – to give you an idea of just how gigantic it is, when it stands on two paws, which it does quite frequently (it probably thinks it’s a baby) it’s as tall as I am – and as I approached a little shop for a bottle of water the owner exclaimed irascibly: “That thing isn’t entering my shop!”

So it was my son who entered the shop for water instead. (Yes, he’s hardly a little mite anymore. Even sports a moustache now!)

There are many thieves in La Linea. And a lot of drugs too. So not a good place to raise kids, especially teenaged ones. Even my friend has sent her teenaged children to Marbella to receive an education, so that they can move around in peace and avoid the harassment of La Linea bullies and drug traffickers right at the doors of their high schools.

Well I suppose I should like to end on a more positive note about this little town.

La Linea Ornate Door by Night

You can observe a feeble attempt at nocturnal photography here. I don’t really have the equipment for that, though. Here this was an attempt to portray one of those typical, stately, larger colonial-style homes that grace many parts of town. However at night without proper lighting I’m afraid its majesty is all lost in the shadows.

In spite of some local tiff-taff because of the drug dealing, for the most part it is a nice, humble, peaceful place to live, where the residents mind their own business and don’t get into a lot of hot water (except on the beach, of course, with its balmy waves). You won’t see lots of protest marches on its streets the way you would in larger metropoles.

There are also no major gangs wreaking havoc. Not a lot of street violence. You can walk around town at any hour of the day or night and expect to be left in peace.

Gibraltar Sitting on the Cannon

Hot Muggy September Nights

Tonight was just one of those lovely hot muggy late summer nights here on Spain’s sunny southern Costa del Sol. At midnight we were still enjoying temps of around 30ºC. (that’s 90ºF. guys). So we went out for a midnight stroll by the sea, stopped for some frozen yogurt (it was definitely NOT frozen!) and kids spent a whole hour dashing about the park. How kids can run for one hour non-stop and still be fresh as roses is one of life’s grand mysteries.
Red Roses

We returned home along the seaside promenade. Beach restaurants offering typical fried fish and wood-baked sardines on a stick – a Malaga specialty – at discount prices now that it’s September. But there was no one about to take advantage of this bargain. It was Sunday night, girls and guys gotta go to work, kids have school. So no late nights anymore. Not even when it’s hot and muggy and lazy.

We watched a pussy cat playing with its dinner, a poor little freaked-out, death-pale lizard. A glowing cruise ship or ferryboat took off for Africa on the other side of the darkness. And that was it.

So this is my life, fellas. No bells or whistles. No Indiana Jones exploits on a daily basis. Just a pleasant walk in the “cool” night breeze and school runs in the early morning.

Beach Bucket

The Barcelona That Tourists, Well, Some Tourists DO See: Barcelona II

All right, so, as promised, here at long last comes Barcelona II.

We left off Part I with this intriguing photo:

What intriguing photo, you’re probably asking. That’s just a short, stubby palm tree sitting in some super dirty, icky, muddy water.

Yes, but…… Where?

In Barcelona, of course!

In this lovely park, the Ciutadella, where we went for a ride in a little rowboat.

Ciutadella Barcelona

Our expert oarsman, ie. my best friend’s almost teenage son, kept pushing our little boat into the palm bushes, which were sticking out of the water in the middle of the lake.

Here you can see a panoramic view of the lake with its myriad pretty little palm bushes all sticking up out of the murky waters.

Ciutadella Barcelona

Note how low these bushes hang out over the water. Now imagine spending the greater part of your visit to this park ducking around underneath these bushes, in your little rowboat that your friend’s almost teenage son persists in pushing out underneath these bushes.

I said in the previous post that Barcelona had more famous monument look-alikes to boast about. I don’t think it will be necessary to label what famous monument this is supposed to resemble:

L'Arc de Triomf

To its credit, this catalan city has nationalized this version by dubbing it with a local, non-francophone name: L’Arc de Triomf.

It’s a great place for kids to play, and to ride your bike, rollerskates or skateboard around. A lot safer than its Gallic version, I do admit. A friendly, family-oriented open area in the heart of downtown.

Well, occasionally it is nice to get away from the typical tourist haunts and strike out to virgin lands. This is an example of what Barcelona can look like outside of Barcelona.

Rubi Barcelona

No, here it isn’t raining, even though it looks like the deluge I described in the previous post, Barcelona I but never succeeded in capturing in all its drama.

Sabadell Waterfall

This is just a waterfall – from underneath.

Now moving on to more familiar, touristic haunts. Here is a vestige of The Mysterious Barcelona.

Pont del Bisbe Barcelona

Everyone takes photos of this beautiful and mysterious covered bridge in the Barri Gòtic. Nonetheless there is nothing ancient about it, in spite of its appearance and architecture, since it was built at the beginning of the twentieth century (in 1929, actually, so I guess still sort of the beginning). It was named for a bishop, el Pont del Bisbe, as a tribute to him even though said bishop was only assassinated during the Spanish Civil War, after the bridge was already constructed.

People in Spain are always saying that Christopher Columbus POINTS, and of course he is always pointing towards America. This is why he points:

Colon Barcelona

Although in reality he is actually pointing towards Italy and not out over the Atlantic.

I wonder if he is indicating the way to Genova, out of nostalgia perhaps.

Whenever I see these lovely waterfront homes by the port, I always wonder what it must be like to live in one of them. Must be luxurious to snuggle snoozily into your eiderdowns as you gaze out through your bedroom window at the famous marina, and at the envious tourists staring awe-struck up at you as they fantasize about your idyllic life.

Barcelona Waterfront

Finally we mustn’t forget that immensely privileged chalet in the country where some of my friends now live.

Garden Barcelona

It isn’t their own home, however. But what a marvel, to be able to actually rent such a quaint and tranquil little dig in the middle of the forest.

Sure beats living in a 50 m.² (500 sq.ft.) 1-bedroom-with-a-walk-in-closet in da inna big city!

Of course, no visit to Barcelona would be complete without an exhaustive up-and-down along its busiest pedestrian thoroughfare, the famous Ramblas.

Ramblas Barcelona


Barcelona Smiling Lobster

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La Línea de la Concepción


Hello everyone! Well I thought I’d take a little break from Barcelona and report a bit about some neat places to visit and some fun things to do right here in good old Malaga.

But if anyone out there happens to be eager to learn more about Barcelona or see more sights from that city, don’t worry. I’ll be getting back to Barcelona and its mysterious bush (you can check out a pic of Barcelona’s mysterious palm bush in the following post, if you haven’t already done so) again in the near future!

Today I felt like talking about wildlife safari parks. There’s an on-going heated debate about how ethical zoos are. Well, I personally don’t feel that safari parks belong in the same category as zoos, because most animals are roaming (relatively) free in a safari park, as opposed to zoos where they are in cages.

Also, I find that safari parks tend to be quite dedicated to the task of taking care of endangered species and bringing up orphaned babies that would otherwise have died.

You can see an example of some cute little animals that Selwo safari park, right here in our own Estepona near Malaga, has rescued here in these photos:
In case the text is not too clear here, the sign says that these are the Barbary Macaques – small, tailless monkeys from North Africa that are famous for living wild on the Rock of Gibraltar – that were rescued from private individuals who had smuggled them into Spain from North Africa, where they live wild, and were keeping them as pets. They are an endangered species and as such should be taken special care of.

This is one of the Barbary macaques living at Selwo safari park.

At Selwo you can take a jeep, similar to the ones used in real safaris in Africa, that will carry you on a tour of the entire park. It’s not only strongly recommended that you take the jeep rides, the park is so large that it would cost you a great deal of effort to cover it all on foot, and take several hours.

Another reason for riding on the jeeps is because there are areas which can only be entered by jeep. The animals that inhabit these zones are living there quite peacefully and happily, and the continuous presence of a bunch of confused tourists gaping and meandering about would be most upsetting!

We go to the safari park every year. We like to ride on the jeeps all around the park to the furthest corner, and then walk back to the entrance.

If you don’t feel up to the hike, which takes around perhaps 3 hours, depending on how long you like to stop to admire the animals, you can always ride the jeeps back to the entrance too.

But walking back is a lot more fun!

Part of the path on the return trip involves crossing over 3 fairly extensive hanging bridges, similar to the ones you can see in Indiana Jones movies.

They might look a bit creaky, and I know they do freak some people out. A guy who went with us on the jeep, a strong, young, hip, macho type, nonetheless refused to get onto the bridge and turned around and hitched a ride back to the entrance on another jeep.

But if you do that you will miss out on so much.

My oldest son likes to ride on the camel every year. The irascible guy that trains the camels is always kicking on the poor dromedaries to get them to rise while they are deeply absorbed in a much-deserved rest.

I tell him he should be nice to the camels and caress them, but he just snorts at me. I feel sad for these camels. Personally, I think that the park should get rid of the camel rides, or at least get a nicer fellow to take care of them.

But I guess that wouldn’t make any money for the park.

We come to Selwo every summer for our annual safari pilgrimage. This was the newborn baby elephant last year.

This is the baby elephant this year. As you can see he’s bigger now, older, and he isn’t babied, coddled or cooed over as much by his elders anymore.

Baby elephants are very precious, because mother elephants can only have one baby at a time, and she lives her private communing with her baby during her pregnancy for 22 months.

Selwo safari park holds Europe’s largest wild aviary housing hundreds of birds of every species you can imagine. Here are a few of its inhabitants:

















Although it might seem like a simple, easy task to photograph these plumed friends, especially considering how large some of them are, really, it isn’t. It depends on their mood and your luck. Mostly they prefer to hide way out in the trees or bush.

This big guy was literally drooling over my son’s food.Drooling bird

Hungry bird












And this one actually succeeded in snatching part of his meal right out of his poor little hand.

Not the first time birds steal his food, however. He reports to me that sometimes while he is eating breakfast at school in the yard, the local seagulls will swoop down lovingly to accompany him, bearing away his sandwich in the process.

The Barcelona That Tourists Never See, Part I

Well, it appears that I’ve been sort of absent for quite a bit of time now. But that is because we have been busy travelling around. You know, it’s summertime, everyone’s on vacation.

So I expect that at this time of the year, lots of blogspots pop out with all sorts of travel tidbits and enviable descriptions of the most exciting holidays you can imagine. Postcard-perfect photos of exotic beaches in the Caribbean (or in the Seychelles, or in the south Pacific), cultural tours around venerable European capitals.

So I’m just going to pile on yet another such post to the list of travel posts popping up lately on blogspots around the world. But well, I’ll try and give it a twist. So I won’t be putting up the same old photos of the same old tourist sites that you can dig up in about a thousand travel guides already or find dotted around all over the internet.

Instead, I’ll try and put up photos of places that tourists won’t see and will never go to.

So here is the first such post (more coming up later I hope teehee!):

“The Barcelona That Tourists Never See, Part I.”

Our trip to Barcelona was fairly long, over a week. I lived in Barcelona for 6 years, so running around the typical tourist mill wasn’t really on our agenda.

Instead, I took the kids to see the places where they spent their earliest childhood years and sent them back on a nostalgic stroll through memory lane. My son re-visited his old pre-school. He said it looked a lot smaller than he remembered it!

These stained glass windows are perched on a fairly normal family home on a fairly normal street. You don’t need to be the proud proprietor of an architectural wonder in order to display something so beautiful and offer your family the possibility of enjoying such a delightful sight every day.

I wanted to take the kids to the countryside where they used to collect snails (after my son got over a major snail-slug-ant-and-every-other-bug-with-more-than-2-legs phobia), but surprise of surprises, we got thugged on the head by a freak summer storm (aka hurricane, cyclone, monsoon maybe?) that lasted for several hours. We took refuge at the local suburban train station:

Well, you can’t really make out the rain too much here, but then again it also wasn’t pouring cats and dogs yet. We thought the worst was about to pass. Well we could think again, the worst hadn’t even arrived yet at the time of this photo. But since I had no intention of spending an entire, precious day cooped up in a tiny little rural train station (quaint as that might sound), in the end I plunked a plastic bag over my youngest son’s head and we set off. My son felt a little ridiculous though, as he sort of looked like a walking white shopping bag.

So, what my kids remember most about their childhood home now is the lowly but spectacular train station.

This storm turned out to be of such a magnitude that apparently many localities got flooded and it made big headlines on the national news. We even got friends and acquaintances calling us up to find out if we were okay, or if by some chance a tidal wave had swept us all out to sea.

So, what does this photo have to do with The Barcelona That Tourists Never See? Well not much, actually, it’s just a lamp that’s hanging on the ceiling of a friend’s favourite dug-out.

But I can assure you that tourists never see it.

So, so much for our journey down memory lane.

However, there is so much more to do and so much more to see in Barcelona, that we weren’t put off by a little bit of unexpected climatic conditions.

The Palau Nacional de Montjuïc or National Palace of Montjuic. Well I said I wasn’t going to stick anything touristy onto this post, but this is such a beautiful location, the Plaza de España in the centre of Barcelona. Besides which I’ve been surfing around a bit on the net and no one else has made quite exactly the same photo of this monument.

No, actually, other people have uploaded much more beautiful, professional, slick photos of this monument onto the internet.

This palace sports a gigantic and stunning water fountain (called Fonts Màgiques or Magic Fountains), which nonetheless doesn’t show up here on this blog, because when we were there the fountains were dry and barren.

However, when the fountains are running, they are the centre of a most exquisite and magnificent light-and-music show, where the enormous sprays of water are displayed in all their glory reflecting a choreography of coloured spotlights that dance around in harmony following the melody of a musical soundtrack.

If you ever get the chance to pass through Barcelona just when they happen to be putting on one of these shows, I thoroughly recommend that you check it out. It’s free, and the show lasts for quite some time.

The only problem you might have is if you go there with a baby (like I did), and your baby is the crying, plaintive type, and gets bored and restless real easy.

The columns of the Palau Nacional at sunrise.

Barcelona likes to flaunt imitations of famous international landmarks. So here is Barcelona’s version of Venice’s Piazza San Marco:

Next week, I shall regale you with yet another monument wanna-be.

Well, The Barcelona That Tourists Never See, Part II should be coming up. In the meantime I’ll end this post with a couple of intriguing pics, of places tourists never gape over:

And in the next post I’ll reveal, what in the world exactly is that anyways? And where is it? (Hint: it’s sticking out of water. It’s just that the water is so murky it doesn’t look like water.)








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On Christmas Day in the Morning

Hot hot hot!

Today was just one of those sizzling hot, you-can-fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement days. At midmorning the thermometers, here in southern Spain, were already registering a simmering 47º C., that’s a whopping 117º F. for those of you Statewise or up in Britain.

In spite of that I like summer, in fact I looove summer! This heat is why I moved to southern Spain. So I’m certainly not complaining.

We have this phenomenon here which is called “terrá”, with a big long emphasis on the final “a”! “Terral” (or terrá as people pronounce it here) is when searing winds blow out from somewhere (I don’t really know from where but they sure feel like they breeze straight out from the Sahara and sheer a nor’wester directly across the Strait of Gibraltar) and raze us all to the ground (coughing and spitting up sand particles haha! Well almost, actually the sand doesn’t quite reach us here. It does get into the Canary Islands though).

So what can we do to combat this barbecue? Well, unfortunately here in da inna big city (well okay, da inna small city, more like, in my case) we don’t have sprinklers, swimming pools (sure do envy all those smart people who moved out to the Costa del Sol, everyone’s got their own neat, cool blue pool over there!) or fresh, green gardens. So what’s up? Beeeaaach!

Yep, as you can see that’s an urban beach, the nearest one to my home, as can be deduced from all those cranes on the not so distant industrial loading dock. You won’t find a lot of tourists on this beach, it’s far from the posh, elegant areas in the eastern end of the city where local and foreign celebs like Penélope Cruz or Antonio Banderas are more wont to hang out.

Nope, this is just my lazy and humble neck of the woods. Families with little kids building sand castles, teenagers hanging out with a cold beer in their hands, the occasional loner reading a book whilst trying to coax on an even suntan (and they usually succeed, I mean people get really dark, coppertone baby dark, in the super powered sun around here!).

And the water’s just as cool and refreshing in these whereabouts as it could be in the trendier Malagueta or El Palo.

Although of course, there’s nothing to stop me from just hopping onto a bus and breezing it out to the El Palo or Malagueta neighbourhoods whenever I wanted to. Beaches are free for all!


What I Do On Weekends

My weekends are very varied, we have no “standard” weekend. However I don’t usually spend my Saturdays cleaning the house or pass the vacuum cleaner on weekend mornings and wake up hung-over neighbours. This past weekend, for example, we decided to go for a walk in the country.

Most of the day was spent listening to my youngest son complaining: “Aaayyy! My foot hurts!” “Aaayyy! I got some dirt on my leg!” “Aaayyy! I got a scratch!” “I’m tired!” “I can’t go there, there’s a bug there!” HE really needs a cure in the countryside!

My oldest son, on the other hand, is a real sport. I used to drag him out on hiking expeditions with friends while my youngest son played videogames in my ex’s home, hence my oldest is quite a bit hardened and tough.

Yesterday was really, really, really strange. We had a foggy and muggy day, very surreal and unusual for summertime.

It looks cold but really, it wasn’t. We were at around 30º (about 86º F.).

Here in southern Spain, unlike in the north we have 2 seasons: dry and rainy. Summer is supposed to be the dry season, so to see fog at this time of the year is something for the record books!

Very appropriate weather for a walk out in the country, nevertheless, and a perfect break from the usual searing temps and relentless sunshine of this period. We got lucky and even enjoyed a few raindrops! (Now I can          imagine any British friends out there shuddering, raindrops, lucky?!)











In the afternoon the sun returned, however, and we ran desperately for cover.