Scandinavians bring havoc and chaos to the location of Fuengirola.
My most significant learning to date as a time traveller is that it is impossible to describe an epoch of hundreds of years in one short report. So in this episode there needs to be some context to the times to which I am travelling. It will be brief, these times are called ‘dark ages’ because so little information about them survives, not because they were not full of action and excitement, it’s just that the ‘news’ did not survive. The almost three centuries between the Romans leaving around 420 A.D. and the Moor’s arriving in 711 A.D. was never going to be a period of stability for the location of Fuengirola. The acts of war, takeovers, power struggles and defeats were common and would have filled newspapers the world over; but they would not be printed for another 1000 years.
So we launch blindly into the past, down to the beach near the Yarmar, into my time machine and through time to the same spot in 650 A.D. On arrival I find myself another 100 meters inland from the shoreline, clearly the land has moved. On my last visit here, I had been to the Finca del Secretario so I thought I would start my visit there. But something seems wrong, it’s like there has been a landslide and the whole of the Finca and the bathhouse have been covered in earth. The river has been moved about 100 meters south by the earth that must have come down from the mountains in the storms of the 6th century.
Some rocks have been used to make some kind of chapel and the only use they seem to make of the place is as a burial ground. Looking west to the hill (close to the modern Gardenia Park Hotel) there is a settlement around some kind of Church, so I follow the coast to find out what is happening.
About a kilometre north of the Finca el Secretario, on a small raised hill beside the Río Presas, close to the then shoreline is what we know today as the ‘Termas Romanas de Torreblanca del Sol’. Around it and along the flowing Río Presas are wooden houses, but this is a stone building around 2 connected octagonal rooms that now look like a badly built church.
It’s early in the morning and slowly people are coming from the houses and down to the river and beaches from about 50 surrounding wooden huts. What I need at this stage is a guide, or someone to interview, so I use some futuristic technology to scan the brains of the local inhabitants to find the smartest person in town. After pointing my device at people heads, taught me that there were no shortage of dumb people about, until one particular scanned head gave a full signal, I had found the local genius.
“What are you staring at”? she said, “you” said I, “who are you, what do you know and where are you from?” I asked. “Ingrid” she said and “everything of course, and I am from Svithiod” (modern day Sweden). “Well Ingrid, I am lucky to have met you. I am a traveling writer and would like to know more about this area where you are living, please would you help me?” At that point she picked up a large log and threw it at my head, if i had not ducked, she would have killed me, “You think I have not heard every trashy pick up line in the modern world, you creep round here with this bulllshit, who do you think I am? And then she goes to get another log, picks it up and is ready to throw it at me!”
Look I know it’s cheating, and that they are banned, but in the future, where I am from, the same device that I used for the brain scans earlier, can be used to make people, well, nice. Quickly pointing the laser at her head, I give it the full ‘cool vibrational speed blast’ which gives the maximum ‘helpfulness, memory and talking’ ability. The problem is it wears off after just 2 hours.
Just as she is raising the log in a blow that would have killed me, she suddenly puts it down, adjusts her clothes, flicks her long blond hair back, flashes her deep blue eyes at me and tells me she is sorry and that a girl cannot be too careful around here. This seems like a good opportunity to invite her for a beach walk along the coast so that I can get back to my boat before her brain wave wears off. She then takes half an hour to get ready and I am getting worried that I will have wasted this long planned trip into this chapter in Patrick H. Meehan’s 2021 book ‘Fuengirola Revisited’
Eventually she is ready, she looks amazing and offers me her arm as we walk toward the beach. There is little time left and I want to know as much as possible, so I start by asking her about herself and how come she knows everything. Her story is amazing:-
She comes from a long line of Norse families and is of course descended from the Gods. As she is from such an important family she was brought up in a huge wooden palace in France. She was educated in a travelling school that followed the Army that her Father led as they served tours of duty across the whole Visigoth kingdom from South of Paris all the way to this place on the southern coast. She told me about her life, travels, education and the people she had met in the Visgoth kingdom.
She tells me about the chaos, the feuding, the wars between the families, dukedoms and fiefdoms. It took 2 centuries of bloodshed until the Visigoths changed from being a wandering tribe of slaughtering plunderers, to a sophisticated and settled ruling class of ‘Teutonic Christians’, allowed to continue their belief in the old Norse Gods and view Christ as a hero. The people descended from the Romans, argue with the original local and a few so-called ancient tribes. At this stage the Iberian population of 5 million is administered by just 200,000 Visigoths, hence it had to be brutal and often inhuman. The rule at a local level was mostly left to the Iberian Romano families who after generations have married into the Visigoth families. Hence the country people, the townspeople and the independent tribes people can never agree on anything. Over centuries of revolt against their rulers, great massacres took place, but never enough to bring peace. This way, the rulers were in some spiritual alignment with the ruled, thus it was God’s will that they ruled. After hearing about the disaster that had occured since the Romans left, and listening to her for an hour, I made the mistake of asking a question. OK it may have been the wrong question, but I asked it anyway.
“Look,” I said, “this place was great under the Romans, under you lot, massacres, famines, plagues, civil wars, instability, starvation, this place is crazy; why?” Then, she explained how Rome had been the largest empire ever, and was the only one capable of bringing top-down order to these chaotic lands. They had ‘books’ almost a millennium before we did, they had the organisation, leadership and incentive to get things done, while the Visigoths fell out over which side of the fence to put the chickens. “You are not comparing the same thing, “ she said “one is highly civilized, the other barbarians from the north. Rome bought 4 centuries of peace, no-one has achieved that since and probably never will. If you came here looking for order or something that works, you are in the wrong place. The Castle and surroundings are covered with mud, we are raided by North African pirates every year and the only fighting our armies do is with each other.”
We reach my boat on the beach, I notice she is starting to become argumentative again, the brainwave must be wearing off; what is it you are doing here again? And as she asked more questions about me, my accent, where I was from, was I a spy.. this time traveller thought “Hang on, I have to climb into that boat……. “