Sea, sun, sangria and aerobics

Here I am in sunny Spain, Fuensanta de Martos to be precise, although as I look through my bedroom window while I type this on my laptop it may be Spain but it is not sunny. It is cloudy and dull and the wind is blowing the olive trees mucho, mucho, and it is cold and I have my jumper on. It is May 16th.

Map of Fuensanta de Martos and surrounding area

And the sea is 3 hours away, 2 and a half if you take the route via Zehveros, which I did once when I brought a friend of mine out here and got lost. “O never mind,” I say gaily, “There is a map somewhere in the back of the car, we can’t be far off the beaten track!” Secretly cringing at my falsity and wondering where the hell we were.

Tinto de verano

And the sangria is tinto de verano which is red wine with lemonade or fanta limon and ice cubes, which is actually very nice, very refreshing on hot sunny days.


I used to live here. I used to teach aerobics here to the Asociacion de Mujeres which means woman’s association like the ones in England. In this case I taught aerobics to two groups: the older women and the younger women. I remember going to the loo and not wanting to come out, at my first class because the stream of women pouring into the hall didn’t stop. “I can’t do this,” I thought. “Why did Lola think I could?”

Lola is a friend of mine I also taught English to. She knew I didn’t have any qualifications to teach English but my speaking English is fairly clear (BBC type) and this is what she wanted to hear. She told me that the Asociacion de Mujeres had lost their aerobics teacher, when she heard that I loved aerobics and was missing my exercise she said: “You can do this Marianna, si, you can!” She knew I needed the money.

I had to be vetted but what they vetted me on I don’t know. I dug out my beauty therapy certificates where there was some module on exercise mainly giving advice ie: you need exercise! It was poor of me but I didn’t lie. I had taken a course to teach aerobics before I came out to Spain but had failed it mainly because I was going through a divorce, had four children, was teaching at the college, taking a teaching qualification, started my own business in beauty therapy and was working in the evenings at the local pub! I was doomed to fail really, I spent all night the day before my exam working out my routine and didn’t sleep at all.

But I am a bit of a perfectionist and so I worked hard and long on the routine for the Gente Mayor y Gente Joven. (Old women and young women) I worried terribly about being safe. I read my Australian aerobic books avidly. I had two classes to teach, 3 times a week. It was great fun and we had a laugh, mainly they at me, because my Spanish was and still is so awful.

I was trying to tell them to turn over onto their stomachs for a particular stretch. They all looked puzzled when I came out with a string of Spanish words that made no sense to them. You can’t construct sentences as we do in English using Spanish words. It just doesn’t work. Finally one lady sat up and said: “Marianna, boca arriba, boca abajo!” O I laughed with joy! How simple. She had said: Mouth up, mouth down.
They lost weight and looked fitter. My greatest joy was seeing a very large elderly lady pick up her own foot and hold it behind her to stretch her quad. When she first started I had to pick up her foot and place it on a chair for her to apply the stretch.

One of the girls befriended me, she was a clown and a nuisance and would distract the class but somehow I tamed her. She was deaf and could only grunt but we understood each other. It was hilarious seeing us talking together. Me with very poor Spanish and she with only grunts. As I drove into Martos just last week, there was Marie Lola crossing the road with Loraina. I gasped, Loraina was grown and a teenager now. Marie Lola came up to me and kissed me. “Hey, Marianna!” Loraina interpreted but it wasn’t necessary. Marie Lola told me she lived in Jaen now and had just come in on the bus to see her mother for lunch. I was near the bus station as I was picking up my niece. I will always have a soft spot for Marie Lola because one day when we were so hungry she appeared with two rabbits her Dad had just shot.

Just to reassure you I am a fully qualified aerobics instructor and gained my qualification when I got back to England.

One thought on “Sea, sun, sangria and aerobics

  1. Do you think this is a bit boring? Perhaps I should elaborate? It was why I wanted all the chapters together really because it is all leading up to the flood? But then that would be too boring perhaps!!! Thanks for the pictures they are great.

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