We awoke to the sound of cleaning. Well to be accurate we awoke to the sound of sweeping and voices, conversations between children (near to us) and their parents (a little further away). Opening the blinds of the van we saw a campsite transformed from the sleepy emptiness of inactivity that had greeted us on our arrival the evening before.
‘You can only stay tonight’ the guy behind reception had explained, ‘we close tomorrow, you will have to come back next year if you want to stay longer at Largo Sanabria.
We had driven down the track to a campsite that was nearly empty, apart from what were clearly semi permanent encampments of caravans, awnings and windbreaks scattered under the canopy of holm oaks. Many enclosed large families sitting around tables enjoying slow evening meals. They didn’t look as though they were being packed up for year end!
The following morning these habitations were buzzing with activity. Groundsheets had been pulled outside and were being given a vigorous sweeping by the women prior to the contents of the caravans brought out and placed on them for cleaning, sorting and packing away. The men were in charge of dismantling structures – awnings, windbreaks, BBQs etc and external cleaning of the caravans with mops and cloths.
Both men and women were reliant on a constant supply of hot water carried by their children in buckets from the shower block and it had been this activity and associated banter that had woken us up.
Without conscious deliberation we gradually entered into this mass activity. First we did some clothes washing, and then we joined the water carriers, carrying bowls of hot water to the van in order to give the cooker, ‘bathroom’ and floor of the van a good cleaning and the windscreen a good washing. By this point the men had moved the caravans into a queue at the water tap and were taking their turn to pressure hose off the last of the season’s accretion of muck. I think we would have been in that line and I too would have been standing bare chested wielding a mop on the roof of our van by this point – but we hadn’t packed a pressure hose and it seemed a tad awkward to ask to borrow one!
Meanwhile the women were setting up a long line of tables and chairs with what looked like all the remaining food and wine for one last big communal feast. We couldn’t compete with that either (although the camping group would have given them a run for their money) so we repaired to the local pueblo for Sunday lunch on a terrace overlooking the mountains in the midst of other Spanish families doing exactly the same.