The Playa Cañuelo is a drive of about 30 minutes from our cottages. Drive down past Velez-Malaga to the autovia. Head towards Nerja but pass it by, turning off the N340 at Maro. Pass that too, driving east along the cliff edge of the coast road until you reach a little car park – hardly more than a scrape. Take the track down to the playa (beach). In the summer months mini buses transport people up and down, but we never go at that time of year.
Out of season this beach is a natural haven for the solitary soul, being part of a marine nature reserve and therefore entirely undeveloped. Since it was featured in the “Daily Telegraph” it has become almost famous for its crystal clear water, its teeming coastal and marine life and its nudists.
Judy and I were hunting for driftwood but there was little flotsam and even less jetsam due to the very atypical weather – no torrential winter rain, no heavy storms, nothing but a strange pseudo-spring climate cut by an icy breeze apparently pushing south from Siberia.
There was no one but us on the beach and we passed a couple of fresh water springs that someone had formed into little lakes and waterfalls. A few hundred metres along the deserted beach was laid out a towel with a dozen beautifully carved pebbles on it: a tortoise, a gecko, an erect penis in the shaker style, a Persian flowering “yoni”, some Eskimo style hieroglyphs, some buddhisty icons, a dolphin and so on. No craft or sales person in sight.
We discover the pebble man on our way back. He is lying out of the wind under a canopy of those long cañas, whose great grandparents used to be sugar canes. He is lying on his back, his crotch pointing out to sea. His name is Gerard. He is French and has lived on the beach for about a year. The police know about him but leave him alone so long as he doesn’t light fires. This is a nature reserve he explains, though not everyone shows respect.
No fires is OK he says – you just put on more clothes. This is what Gerard had done today. He had modified his nudist principles and is sporting an old green t-shirt against the bitingly cold wind. This makes him respectable at least from the waist up. He tells us he did badly at Xmas. He had a big commission from a drug addict who failed to come up with the cash. Business is bad at this time of the year too because of the cold. “People walk quickly by” says Gerard. In the summer they can lay about and think about buying something. The down side to summertime is that they steal his stuff. “Why don’t you sit next to it?” Judy asks “Ahhh” he replies, waving his arms. “We could take some pieces home and show them off in our cottages” I suggest “Our guests like hand-made local stuff” “Ahhh” he waves his hands again.
I buy one of his pieces at a grossly inflated price.
He needs a meal.
He’s a nice guy. . . . .