Friday, January 2, 2009

The Apartment

Chapter 8

Helen and her father, Mr. G., lived in a modest rental apartment in the Son Armadams area of Palma, where I was to stay until I had found my own accommodation. Mr. G. had previously lived in Canada as well as on his family's estate in Portals Nous, but when he opened his guitar factory in Palma he needed to be closer to town. Helen had been studying in England but had returned to Mallorca to make preparations for her upcoming wedding to her Spanish fiancé. As Mr. G. no longer had a wife, Helen was housekeeping for him until her marriage.

Sharon in Palma 1968
Above: Wearing the yellow cotton dress I made.

The second floor apartment was sparsely furnished. In the living room was a leatherette sofa, two armchairs and a round wooden dining table with four chairs. The large windows, fitted with pale green venetian blinds, overlooked an outdoor balcony and the street below. Down the single hallway were the bedrooms, the bathroom and a tiny kitchen. There was just enough room for two people to work in that kitchen as long as they didn't move around too much. From the small kitchen window one could see the next block of apartments and the patio below.

stone urn Palma
The owner of the apartment building lived over in that second block of flats and every morning his small granddaughter, Mari Cati, would play down on the patio. At some point in mid morning, she would be placed in her highchair and spoon fed her lunch. It amazed me to see how everyday routines such as that could be conducted outdoors. It was a revelation for me to see how a warm climate could so affect one's upbringing and lifestyle. Many more everyday tasks were done outdoors in the warmth of patios and public parks.

Palma street 1968
And hot Mediterranean evenings saw chairs taken out from ground floor homes and placed in a row along the pavement, facing inwards so the residents could sit outdoors in the street or front patio to watch their black and white television, placed in the doorway, while waiting for a cool evening breeze.

Palma 1968
I was not accustomed to having dinner during the early part of the day, as Canadian dinner time was around five or six pm.. Spanish dinner hours were from one to four and so women who cooked for their families went in the early morning to the market to shop and once home, they prepared a dinner. I found it hard to comprehend how cooking was to be done during the hottest part of the day. Wouldn't it make more sense to do it later ? But no, I was to find out that the Mediterranean summer heat and humidity lasted far into the night and some nights it never seemed to cool down. Besides, the Spanish system of shop closings from 1 to 4 was firmly entrenched and business people as well as shop assistants would lock up, leave their place of work and take a bus or walk home for their long afternoon family meal and siesta. In the late afternoon they would return, again by bus or on foot, to reopen their shops and continue their business day until the 8 pm closing time.

Continue on to Chapter 9......Cooking in The Apartment

Go back to Chapter 7......Around Palma 1968

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