An Expats View Of Life In Nerja

I would be the first to admit that my previous writings for this auspicious website may be construed as overtly pro-Nerja. I make no apologies. I am a man very much enamoured of the place and wish only to share my feelings with as many of you who are prepared to listen. However it would be nothing short of a dereliction of duty, not to say down right dishonest, if I were not to bring to your attention at least some of the unseen reefs that may exist beneath uncharted shores. There is, after all the possibility of all kinds of dangers hidden beyond seemingly trouble free horizons. A ship built, less a halfpenny’s worth of tar can be thoroughly spoilt. If you will indulge me in the use of the nautical parlance. Patrick O’Brian make away there!

Gentlemen! There exists in Nerja, a preponderance of dashingly good looking waiters. Dressed predominantly in black (and we all know how flattering that can be), they move between tables, holding full drink trays aloft in one hand, dodging small children and outstretched legs as they go, moving chairs in and out for the ladies with their ‘free’ hand while simultaneously whispering sweet nothings into their newly sunburnt ears. “I have seen you in my dreams, now here you are in the flesh”. That old one. Give me a break! Of course the women folk are only flesh and blood and so must be seen as the helpless victims of these bounders whose contours seem a little too well defined in their obviously bespoke uniforms, to be just the result of genetics.

Sadly, some of us seem content to sit back with their Rum ration not even seeming to stand by and repel ‘Boarders’ as they descend, Eroll Flynn like onto our ‘decks’ making prisoners of many a wenchies’ heart.

BELAY I SAY, NOT I ME BUCHOS! I have decided that I am not going to be caught low in the water carrying too much ballast and so I have charted my course to the nearest Gym.

After handing over my credit card to the (rather surprisingly portly) Gym manager, I made my way to the men’s changing room. Not a bad result. Four months for the price of three and ten Euros to hire a locker.

My sun bleached blond hair and my now almost permanent tan is, I think, best complemented by a fairly old but none the less nicely fitting pair of grey shorts and matching vest. I’m not too comfortable in pastel shades at the best of times. I emerge in gladiatorial fashion through the changing room door into the free weight area. “My name is Danielius Kruyerius Maximus. Husband to a smitten wife, owner of a Fiat Punto! Of course I don’t actually say this out loud for as I survey the Gym area I can’t help but notice that, a few puffing expats aside, the place is populated entirely by Nerja’s waiters. “Who is minding the cafe?,” I think to myself and am tempted to shout “la cuenta por favor?”, just to see if there is any kind of Pavlovian reaction from them. I decide this is not a good idea. I do not want to be knocked to the floor by some big armed man only to wake up lying in a pool of someone else’s Testosterone.

I begin my ‘programme’ but soon become interested in the differences in etiquette between that of the Spanish and the British Gym user. In Britain, health and safety regulations make it compulsory to wear the correct attire. Hard hat, re-enforced shorts and steel toe capped trainers just in case you or the individual working out next to you accidently drops a fifty kilo dumbbell on your tootsies. In Spain flip flops are preferred. On the walls of Britains Gyms polite notices remind us that “Children under sixteen years of age are not permitted in the Gym as the equipment is potentially dangerous”. In Spain small children can be seen cradled under one of dad’s arms as he exercises the triceps of the other while mum peddles away on a Stationary Bicycle that hasn’t got a cross bar for the bambino to sit on.

The thing that it is most difficult to come to terms with however is the use of the wall mirrors. You can do all kinds of things in British Gyms which would be considered socially unacceptable elsewhere. What regular Gym user can honestly say that while sitting on the leg extension machine, they haven’t suddenly woken from a day dream with their finger stuck up their nostril? I know I have. This and acts like it are accepted in British Gyms. Get caught glancing sideways at your self in a wall mirror however and you become the victim of merciless ridicule. Not so in Spain. The practice of young men admiring themselves in the mirror from every conceivable angle is very much the thing to do. I was moved to do my own quick survey, nothing scientific you understand, but of the ten young men I observed, their average time spent in the gym was one hour fifty minutes. The average time spent by each of them gazing at them selves in the mirror, eleven minutes thirty six seconds. Contorting their bodies into the most un-natural of shapes, they get the very best image to gaze back at them.

“England expects this day that every man shall do his duty”. That is: strip, shower (if absolutely necessary), dry off, dress and get out of the changing room before the enemy have realised you’ve weighed anchor and cast off. Not so with these chaps. In all states of undress, they converse with each other, making, if you can believe it, eye contact as they do so. The skills of their trade coming into play as they mix cocktails of powdered, high protein muscle building supplements and long life milk. Gulping it back, often the mouth is missed, allowing the concoction to run erotically down their barrel chested, flat stomached torsos…. It’s like being in a Derek Jarman movie! Either that or I’ve been reading too many sea faring novels.

But it must be said that over all, the visit to the gym is an enjoyable and certainly worth while one. Offering a place to escape the rain and the cooler weather of the winter months as well as providing an excellent way of avoiding the hottest part of the day during the summer, not to mention of course combating all those ‘useless’ calories you consume once that sun passes over the yardarm. Its also a good place to practice your Spanish with the your fellow athletes as you sculpt your self into some one who can legitimately don a tight fitting pair of ‘speedos’ and walk nonchalantly along the seashore for no apparent reason.

And should we really be bovver’d or feel jealous of the Adonis’ who is waiting at our table? No. For it is clear that these young men are professionals. The devotion to their tip top fitness lies less in their desire to seduce our women folk and more in their ability to be able to carry two or three kilos of sangria high above their heads, better to avoid any unfortunate collision with diners. Good reason if you ask me for not having ‘avast behind!’

Copyright © Daniel Kruyer

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