Yesterday we discovered a new wifi cafe. Well, we didn’t really discover it yesterday. We already knew it was there but sometime last summer it closed. And now it has re-opened, which is good because it is rather depressing to see empty shops and closed down cafes in an area. It makes it all look rather run down.
What we didn’t know was whether the newly opened Patuá (that is its name - is this a Spanish spelling of the French “patois” or does it have something to do with ducks, “patos”?) had wifi or not. Yes, it does! So now we have another place within easy walking distance to go and access the internet.
Our area can manage to look a bit rundown without having empty shops and shut down cafes. Over the last couple of years, almost all of Calle Aragón has been repaved, smartened up with bright, clean stone slabs. Clean and bright, that is, until they get splatted with a polka dot pattern of spat-out chewing gum! That is a different matter!
Anyway, the repaving stopped about fifty yards from our building and didn’t pick up again until after the small roundabout with the lighthouse affair on it. Maybe it’s because there are a number of car repair workshops on the ground floor along this stretch, meaning that cars are driven over the pavement. But surely a dropped kerb would be all they would need. Who knows?
Whatever the reason, we still have the old, ratty-tatty, ridged paving stones, some of them cracked and broken. The “gentrificación” of Calle Aragón has passed us by and we remain, a kind of blot on the smooth new look of the street.
The municipality has, however, planted some new trees in what used to be empty tree spaces outside our building. I am unsure whether to take this as good sign, a sign that they are trying to make the place look nice, or as an indication that they have given up totally on repaving our stretch of the street.
Walking down from Calle Aragón to Travesía de Vigo, the next street down, you pass through what remains of the district as it presumably was before tall blocks of flat were built: individual houses with their own bit of land where vegetables are grown as well as flowers. In one of the gardens stand two fig trees, so close together that their branches are interwoven. When the trees are in full leaf you are easily misled into thinking it is one big old tree. At the moment, though, they are completely bare, in strange contrast to the lemon tree in the same garden, in full leaf and covered in lemons.
When I was a child, indeed for quite a lot of my adult life, I never saw a fig. Figs were something that you got in those odd fig biscuits, which I am convinced my grandmother bought because nobody really liked them. She could not be said to have failed to offer biscuits but it was not her fault if no one ate them. Okay, I exaggerate a little!
Nowadays I look out for them in season and have a range of recipes involving figs. Of course, after the UK leaves the EU (if it comes to pass) figs may become again a fruit that another generation of children never sees!
Be that as it may, I found a bit of information about figs, under the heading, “Figs are made of wasps. Sort of.” That’s a rather off-putting idea, so I read on.
First of all, it seems that the fig is not technically a fruit but really a bundle of flowers and seeds sealed up inside the fig shape. Because the flowers are not open to the air, pollination is difficult. That, it seems is where the wasp comes in. Literally! There is a type of wasp called - would you believe it? - a fig wasp. The queen fig wasp burrows its way in through a tiny opening, pollinating the flowers and laying its eggs before giving up the ghost and being absorbed into the fig. The eggs hatch, a new generation of fig wasps eat their way out and the whole process starts again. YUCK!
Fortunately, humans have been domesticating figs longer than they have been cultivating grain crops and the figs you buy in the fruit shops and supermarkets will not have been exposed to waspish invasions. That explains why the figs don’t have little holes where the baby wasplets have made their escape.
Thank goodness for that! However, I might be a little wary of figs grown in a friend’s garden!