MOJACAR was the easiest place in the world to drop “into” once you had decided to “drop out of” whatever ailed you. For me, it was Vietnam. Friends and classmates had been coming back in body bags to be mourned for dying without a cause. The war then wasn’t just unpopular with the common man in the street, nobody with any logical sense could answer why we continued our involvement. But someone all powerful and portentous did, the American Industrial war complex. Making bombs was big business, easy money, and suited the bureaucrats. They could consider themselves “saviours to our nation’s freedom” while becoming exceedingly fat from the spoils of war. Body count from the dreaded “enemy” didn’t matter, that is, until it was all over, the dust had settled, and it was realized. The people in the south wanted to be similar to those of the north having believed the same tenets and religion for the last two millennium until the French tried to change it and sell them perfume. Now, when I compare these days to those days, it doesn’t seem a lot has changed.
I arrived pretty wide-eyed into my strange new surroundings. I must confess it took me years to fully understand the town and that the social hierarchy of our back woods community wasn’t necessarily Europe or even Spain.
Mojacar was brimming with famed retired generals, movies stars, poets, retired men of industry, and all round good guys. Everybody that I talked to had a story and they told it as if it were their armour blazoned on their shield of battle. If you hung about enough you would hear them repeat the identical story to other arrivees seeking directional and community advice. Everyone in the village was already unique, imitable, one of a kind that the world had sifted through and filtered like nuggets of gold settled in the bottom of the pan. I was amazed, dumbfounded, and in extraordinary awe of those personages who often in their quick goings and comings would cast but a slight shadow upon me which I reverently received.
Two unusual personality characteristics blatantly stood out that were absent to the common eye or tongue in Iowa. Lots of the guys were “light in the loafers” and colourful gigolos. The scene was ostentatious and bothersome only until you got to know everyone better. Yet, there never was one big family here. Egos bumped up against another too readily. The early occupants had already adopted the Spanish system of total anarchy, “Vivo yo,” and to hell with the rest. This characteristic best represented itself during the daily parking wars in front of the Hotel Indalo, focal point of all commerce and rumour mongering in the village.
No matter what success you had or failure, you took it to the village and let it be known (at least your version). This was the arduous task of making a round of the bars. There were just 32 in those early days. It was the thing to do and brought us all into the practice of drinking too much and too often– a wonderful pastime.
One unique habit that the large English constituency held along with the handful of Americans on the beach was the constant and deliberate celebration of “equalitarism” amongst the locals. When the English took off for their nightly pub crawls, an entourage of local Spanish were taken along for the ride. Likewise, any gathering on the beach of more than three people meant the obligatory fulfilment of inviting all the Spanish around to share in the fun. I still remember my gardener friend, Luis, refusing to bob for apples considering it too undignified—until my wife showed him.
And, just like the Bible tells it, “there were giants in those days,” and they indeed helped create the magical place that has become Mojacar. A place of shared conviviality, welcoming all, morning, noon and night.