Last month Anne and I celebrated thirty years of marriage. We wanted a break and so we booked a holiday with Club La Costa World which is located in Fuengirola on the south coast of Spain. Truth be told we got a fantastic discount of 80% which made the gig very affordable.

We had a wonderful time relaxing by the pool and visiting Grenada and Ronda but we had to pay our pound of flesh! We had to spend four hours of the holiday listening to a skilled and persuasive salesman who waxed lyrical about the delights of time shares in Club La Costa. To be frank I was dreading this phase of the holiday but it turned out to be the best moment of our time in sunny Spain.

Frank (not his real name) picked us up in his posh car and took us to a restaurant on the resort. He asked Anne about her work and she told him about working with traumatised asylum seekers as a therapist. Anne asked him about his life and he explained that he had been a soldier in Afghanistan for many years and still suffered sleepless nights mulling over the horrors of war. Anne was delighted to find out that Frank was fluent in Pashtu and Farsi! Frank looked ’emotional’ as we probed him about his life and work experiences.

Frank then asked me about my work and I told him a bit about RealityBites. I told him about Randy Lewis and his baptised imagination – employing thousands of autistic and disabled people at Walgreens. I told him several heartwarming ‘faith in action’ stories and he seemed delighted and intrigued.

When we got to the sales pitch both of us were struck by the endless references to luxury hotels, meals, massages and the ‘five star’ treatment. We explained to Frank that we had no wish to live in this kind of luxury ‘story’. He told us that he had never met anybody who had a well-thought out critique of his pitch. I told him the ‘parable’ about the rich man who spent all his holiday complaining about the shoddy 25 year old malt whiskey in his luxury suite. He smiled and told me that all of his customers were like that!

I then outlined the consumerist ‘way of life’ and told him that we didn’t live in that story! He paused reflectively and told us that he had never met people like us before!

He told us about one of his clients who offered to fight him (bare knuckles) and if Frank won the ‘punch-up’ he would automatically sign up for the time share ‘deal’! Frank contended that many of his clients were rude and ‘nasty’ people. He told us twice that it was an honour and a privilege to meet us! He confided in us that we were the only clients who had ever taken an interest in him! I was astonished to hear him saying this.

In the final moments of our time together he said something quite odd. He blurted out – “Muhammed didn’t come back from the dead but with Isa (Jesus) it was different! He has no tomb”. I was then able to talk to Frank about my conversion to Christianity from atheism and the good news of the resurrection.

It’s amazing what goes on in the Costa del Sol. It’s not all beers, sunbathing and sangria!

Mark Roques

Mark Roques

For eleven years Mark taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at Prior Park College, Bath. As Director of RealityBites since 2005, he has developed a rich range of resources for teachers and is a popular speaker at educational conferences in the UK, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. Mark is the author of three books, including the Religious Education textbook The Good, The Bad and The Misled, and his innovative approach has led him to appear on television (Channel 4) and radio.