Today we have a shocking report from our time-travelling correspondent Dr. Quien from the Midsummer celebrations around 100 years after the Phoenician founding of Syalis.
Good morning and welcome to the year 2600 B.C. on the Summer equinox that you celebrate on the 21st June. On the site of the ‘modern’ castle, there is a tower with foundations built into the rock, which I climbed to get a better view of the celebrations.
As I look out to sea, to my left the site of the modern town center is a marsh and the town’s other 4 rivers meet the sea with much wider mouths and the beach is back about 100 meters from the current shoreline. The Rio Real is a large inlet that covers all of the modern-day feria ground. The Rio Fuengirola is five hundred metres wide with a harbour wall built on both sides. There are around twenty large ships in the bay and many smaller fishing and supply vessels, the largest ships can carry up to four hundred tons. Behind me, the river is dredged to a level below the sea and flows inland for at least 3 kilometres. The river is quiet today, all the boats are at anchor and the usually busy quays are deserted.
To my right, I see the town of around five hundred long, square stone homes decorated with red stones. This is the height of summer and the size of the town has been increased by visitors with tents, awnings and coverings of every style and colour.
The town flows from the site of the castle and down to the site of the current IPV Palace, back along the current road and up the hill. The grandest houses line the river and many of the nearby hills had had their tops flattened to provide homes or viewing points. The biggest shock is the ‘salad bowl’ of colour, stones, houses, clothes, tents and people in the widest display with every hue of the rainbow. There are cats and dogs, well-fed and docile, guarding the houses and prowling the streets. A stage had been erected on the site of the current Mare Nostrum stage (strangely enough) and a crowd of over a thousand men, women and children gathered around it.
The event started with a speech…
“You’ve never had it so good”, shouted the Phoenician Mayor. “Bronze and copper are mined from across this land and carried here to Sylias to be shipped to our great capitals of Tyre and Sidon. Our endless supply of labour has cleared the rivers and made the land fit to grow food. The rivers now run and irrigate the land, the mountainsides are full of our grapes, the flat land yields crops and food comes from all of the peninsula to this spot…” He spoke for about half an hour, taking personal credit for most of the things that went right in the town while his voice was occasionally drowned by cheering.
After a break, and as the sun was going down the stage was set for a religious service with an altar at the center. My suspicions should have been aroused when I saw the ceramic vases around the edges of the altar and the shackles at each corner. The service began at sundown with the usual evocations to the multiple Gods of places, people and things while the atmosphere thickened with a thousand people chanting and with the smoke of incense.
There were some people in a cage beside the stage, I had innocently thought this was to get a better view, how wrong I was. It was when an assistant priest brought one of these people to the altar that I realised that something much darker was occurring. Before it got any darker, I decided I should leave, this is not something I wanted to see. With everyone else’s attention transfixed, I climbed down the tower, walked to my time travelling boat waiting 2 kilometers up the beach. The white boat with a blue canvas was waiting, I climbed in, set the coordinates for 21st June 2021 and went to sleep in one of the vast cabins. This has to be a lesson, that the past is not always ‘nice’ and like any of the horrific events set in this place since then, they will be safer viewed from a greater historical distance. A beer on the beach in modern Fuengirola has never seemed like a better prospect.