Thursday, July 26, 2012

A little more about Jaèn

In rereading the last post, I think I may have been too hard on Jaèn. I stand by my comment that there is nothing the average tourist would want to see, but that’s not to say a person couldn’t enjoy spending a day or two in the town if  you can take pleasure in exploring the little slices of life around you.  

For example last Sunday Jaèn held a mini festival.  There were kiosks erected in the Principal Park displaying and selling artifacts and food…all of them just a bit different than seen in other regions. Some of the artifacts were made by inmates of the local prison. It’s fun to talk with the vendors, learning about their lifestyles and how they produce whatever it is they’re selling. Later in the early evening there was entertainment, games and dancing.

In a chance discussion with a bakery owner we discovered we had a common interest in collecting unusual rocks.  The next thing we knew we were sitting at her kitchen table looking at her rock collection. What is this thing? She believes it is man-made. She calls it Buddha. I believe it is natural but whatever it is, it is far heavier than it should be for its size. Perhaps a reader knows and can comment on what kind of rock this is. But the point is we spent a very pleasant hour talking with this woman and her family.

Jaèn is very hot during the day but it cools down to a comfortable temperature in the early evening. That is when the populous gravitates to the park. On our last evening in town Maribel and I sat on a park bench for several hours watching the minutia of life unfold before us. We watched the kids tug on the leg of mom or dad as they passed the vendor in the photo, asking for cotton candy or a ball. There was an ice cream vendor nearby, and more than once we heard a parent give the child a choice of ice cream or what this man was selling. A ball or cotton candy cost 35 cents – ice cream is 20 cents. Often the kids opted for ice cream but the man sold enough to probably make his time worthwhile. 

From that same park bench we watched a police officer write tickets and place them on five motorcycles that were illegally parked. It was interesting and entertaining to watch the different reactions as each owner returned to their bike and discovered the ticket. We saw anger, distain and total disregard.

Sitting on a bench doing all that observing is hungry work, so Maribel and I decided to walk across the street and eat dinner at what has to be the most popular restaurant in town; Lactobac. After looking at the menu we agreed we really weren’t that hungry so would have something light. Maribel ordered jello. I changed my mind and pigged out on what the menu called a “Royal banana split.” There was nothing light about it.

All of the above is pretty tame…there’s nothing that would cause you to place a hurried call home to share the excitement. But in my view it is quality time and is rewarding in so many ways. Despite a lack of tourist attractions there is always something of interest to see or do if you can enjoy the simple things in life. We will have fond memories of our visit to Jaèn.

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