There is a distinct way that local people in small villages try to impart directions to travellers that just never makes sense. There never is a proper town map for a start, so you end up with little bits of paper where the well-intentioned local draws curves and crosses adding pivotal references such as banks and garages. I think it’s to do with one’s own perception of scale. The well-intentioned receptionist at the hotel where I was staying was trying so hard to explain where the two boutiques where I might find a swimming costume were located in the capital of the island of El Hierro, Valverde, that I started getting stress palpitations. But with directions like, ‘past the pharmacy, in the middle of the cobbled road just after the three flower pots’, was not going to get me anywhere! I shouldn’t have worried so much, as in fact with only five clothing shops in total, I managed to find all of them and deciphered the two that she meant, although NO swimming costume!
The first of the two shops, www.tdcsport.com – a regional chain seemingly catering to the 18-35 bikini market, a sort of equivalent to a JD sport with lots of fluorescent colours tees and shorts from 14 euros up. PAS MOI! The other a no-name boutique, had absolutely every piece of female apparel possible, all imported from mainland Spain. I was impressed by the fabulous service from the owner, who clocked my size and shape in an instance, and since the store was full of shoppers, there was a whole load of audience participation to boot, resulting in a rather one-off surreal experience. The owner, who imports one item of clothing in each size, colour and style really deserves the qualification of personal shopper extraordinaire!