IT’S that time of year, Sir David Attenborough will breathily tell you, when you first really start to see them.
Tourists, that is. After all, they’re the easiest to recognise as a species. They’re the pasty-looking white blobs on the beach, unless it’s been unusually hot and they’re red as lobsters and being given the kiss of life by paramedics.
They’re the ones who hold you up. On the roads because they’re unsure where they’re going. In supermarkets because they’re counting out their change.
If the weather suddenly turns bitterly cold and showery, they’re still dressed for summer. In summer, they’re the ones wandering around shops, streets and restaurants with hardly a stitch on.
Tourists could never be mistaken for two other species you encounter in Spain: the newly arrived expatriates and the long-term expatriates. The former you’ll see enthusiastically attending every Spanish class, flamenco, bull fight and feria, so keen are they to fit in and be accepted in their new habitat.
Whereas long-term expatriates are the complete opposite and the most difficult to spot. They dress like the Spanish, wear summer clothes only in summer and dress more formally in town. Like the Spanish too, they’ve learned to accept the way of life. Mañana really does mean, umm, mañana.
With all the Roman ruins – villas, roads, marketplaces – uncovered in Spain, the Romans could be considered the earliest tourist species. Just imagine them: charging along the carreteras to the nearest encampment in their horse-drawn chariots. Holding up traffic at the roundabouts. Counting out their silver denarii coins in the markets.
Hannibal first got the show on the road in Spain when he breezed in from Carthage with his lines of nose-to-tail elephants. So maybe the TAIL-gating sometimes seen among Spanish drivers is yet another remnant of those ancient times?
Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore. All profits go to Costa del Sol Cudeca charity.