The lakes, because of their beauty, their extent, and the fact that they are a hundred and fifty miles from the sea, attract a lot of people who don’t have the time or the money to go to the beach. Most of them are there for a swim and a rest, and why not. They mostly use the campsites, or the cheap hostels created for the purpose.
The water is much better for looking at than for swimming in. The good swimming areas are few and small. At busy times, summer weekends, and most of August, they are horribly, insufferably full. Since I don’t usually go to swim, except in September when it’s all much quieter, it doesn’t bother me, and on the other hand it gives me the chance to study types, which is always interesting.
There are the young. Some are couples, vaguely hippy/Bohemian types, who don’t have any money because hippy types don’t, for some reason. They have knotted hair and tattoos, are always painfully thin, and usually have a dog that eats better than they do. Such couples are usually pleasant, open and interested in everything they see. They are the ones who look for Don Quijote’s cave, and find hidden places among the reeds on the lesser-known lakes where they can put a towel down and enter the water easily. They are to be found at the campsites, along with the Northern European families who’ve crossed France with a little camper van and whose children are determined to look as though they enjoy this sort of thing. They are also cheerful and lively, and don’t have an ounce of spare fat either, but what is good to see in 20-year-olds looks a bit creepy in middle-aged Danes.
The other type of young people are groups of students, usually mixed, with a bit of everything, friends who are doing what they can on their budget. There is often a fat girl who is delighted to be there, and a thin girl who isn’t happy and is going to make sure her boyfriend knows it. But people come here to have fun, and the groups like that are especially good at finding places away from the crowds. They tend to have a car so they drive around until they find somewhere they can jump in the water, spread out a bit, pretend to fish, and encourage each other to hire a piece of plastic in the shape of a racing car or a giant swan with which to pedal around the lake and generally have a good time. They don’t have children to think about, are tireless and find everything a big laugh. Ahh, youth. I used to have one.
There are gypsies, too. You don’t think of gypsies as going on holiday, and it’s true they don’t seem to go far, but those that live near the coast, or in this case the lakes, sometimes take the children there. Gypsies eat very badly. You can see it in their skin and their eyes, and they are always fat and flabby. When they swim the women sometimes take the opportunity to wash the clothes. I’ve seen it at the beach, too. Otherwise they’re just more people relaxing.
There are older families who are there for the same reason- they have no money- but they are used to having no money and to making do with a cheap hostel at the lakes, and to having to explain to their children yet again why they aren’t going to Estepona like their friends. It is a subgroup of these who eke out their holiday money by poaching and stealing from the surrounding land, or by selling drugs to the others. You can usually tell this type easily, because they don’t look as though they’re having fun.
You have the ones who park their car near the water and turn the radio up full blast, providing entertainment to all those around them whether they want it or not. There are those who set up a table and a sunshade anywhere they can and spend the day sitting under it, come what may. Nearly everyone brings their own sandwiches, so the bars only sell a few cokes. These are bad times for dealing in luxuries, and anything extra is a luxury to many people now.
Then there are the Rumanians. I’ve written about them before. They love water, and they especially love fishing. The quieter parts of the lakes are full of groups of Rumanians, fishing and picnicking.