An Expats View Of Life In Nerja

An unusually dry Feria and relatively rain free October left us suffering with high winds and torrential rain during the opening weeks of November. Another Nerja summer came and went but the question on my lips is where did it go?

We personally have our fair share of guests since the summer started, wanted and unwanted. Dear friends who elected to come to Nerja to celebrate and share with us their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Old workmates who journeyed here from Vienna and with whom I tried very hard to share a beer and tapas in as many of Nerja’s bars as one liver can stand. Two recently retired chums who enjoyed themselves so much they are already planning next spring’s visit. Good times had by all.

But what of the unwanted guest? The visitor that arrives uninvited. The one that with the promise of what summer brings, you can really do without. The guest that once here, no matter what you do to make it feel unwelcome, simply won’t leave. THE VIRUS!

Don’t ask me why, but I happen to know that on August 2nd 2012 I started to cough. “No matter” I said, “Tis naught but a summer chill, nothing an early night and a cup of cocoa won’t get rid of ”. Ha!

Two weeks later and I am in the grip of something deeply unpleasant, something that only a man can deal with. Two weeks into my living hell the woman with whom I share a bed also begins to cough. To my horror her cough is much worse than mine and she is diagnosed with having Whooping Cough. Whooping Cough mindja! Typical! I can’t be ill on my own. She has to get in on the act. Friends and acquaintances stop us in the street. “Mary I hear from Sharon’s friend Ursula’s next door neighbour’s hairdresser that you have the Whooping Cough. How terrible you poor darling. I lit a candle for you”.

Er, hello, I’ve not been at all well either actually.

I read on the NHS website that Whooping cough is also known as the 100 day cough. It’s the middle of August. I have this until the beginning of November. The end of October. If I’m lucky.

Meanwhile my Virus is taking a grip. I’ve lost my voice. I’m hot when I should be cold and I’m cold when I should know better. The sheets are wringing wet with my perspiration and I spend so much time watching the telly through the night rather than lie in my own sweat that I am now able read sign language. The man in the flat next door with its paper thin walls has been deprived of his sleep for weeks. Our joint coughing fits remind him of the time he spent water boarding the in-mates at Guantanamo. A friend comments that being in our company is like holidaying on a TB ward. The Nerja branch of The Charles Dickens Appreciation Society ask us to attend one of their book readings so that they can get a “real feel” of what it must have been like. The man next door threatens us with denouncement which could result in being flown somewhere where ‘kill or cure’ means just that. It’s time to consult a professional. Not much help there. “No antibiotics for you because you’ve only got a virus and they don’t respond to antibiotics and any way if you just stop moaning it will just go of it’s own accord”. Well I could have told you that, and I’m cheaper! Mary on the other hand has the Bordetella Pertusis Bacterium. Very nasty. This boyo has to be tackled. Pills the size of Chocolate Hobnobs are prescribed. “Take one of these before you go to bed, and if you wake up in the morning, take another one”. “oh, and avoid alcohol”. Avoid alcohol? That’s a laugh.

Slowly but surely her paroxysms begin to subside. The bags under the eyes of the man next door begin to grow smaller. He graciously agrees not to involve the lawyers providing the medical establishment can come up with something to silence me. It may be the way he uses the word ‘silence’ that causes me, at approximately 10:15 every night to get a painful nervous rash on both my arms. Being a man it is my duty to imagine the worst. What could it be? I remember the assassination attempt on the former President of The Ukraine, Victor Yushenko. It is widely believed that one of his neighbours attempted to poison him with TCDD in order to ‘silence’ him. No, surely not. I decide to make an appointment with a dermatologist who happens to be an ex KGB operative. He tells me that the rash on my arm is due to Mite bites and prescribes a deadly cocktail of DDT and antihistamines. This and his 80 euro fee do seem to get rid of my rash but does nothing to ease my paranoia.

Meanwhile my persistent cough plays merry hell with my vocal chords and I begin to talk with the voice of a 60-a-day man. The ladies tell me it is “not unattractive”. Well, one lady tells me that it’s not unattractive and that I remind her of her late, 60-a-day husband who sadly collapsed and died on hearing of Harold Wilson’s second term victory. Age should be no boundary.

The wife is now running around like two year old attending two gym classes a day pausing only for the occasional coughing fit determined, still, to steal my thunder and deprive me of my well deserved sympathy, while I remain coughing and spluttering and rapidly losing friends who have taken to speaking to me through empty yogurt cartons joined together by string lest they should fall victim to this man killer. Little do they know that my particular virus can travel along string as adeptly as any tight rope walker able to fell any man who crosses its path.

It only remains for me to send warning to any other of our friends who may be thinking of spending their future summer holidays with us. The last thing I want to do is put you off coming but, perhaps you should consider packing one of those white masks that the Japanese seem to swear by. And don’t forget, Obas oil and other liquid remedies must not be carried onto the plane. And come to think of it, rather than pack the Japanese mask, better to wear it on the way over, that Whooping Cough bug must have been brought over by some one.

Copyright © Daniel Kruyer

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