Serendipity II – Ana María, a car service and sushi

Serendipity II – Ana María, a car service and sushi

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, ‘serendipity’ is the fact of finding interesting or valuable things by chance. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary goes for the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. When Paul Whitelock rang his garage to book a service, little did he know that serendipity was about to strike again…

While I was in Ronda on Friday last, I had to go to the cajero at my bank. I transacted my bank business and, since the bank is opposite Las Maravillas, one of my favourite places to eat and drink in town, I went for a coffee and to catch up on my phone calls.

Car service

I rang my garage, but the number I used was declared non-existent! Humph! I tried another number – same story.

I googled the garage to find that it was permananete cerrado! Had they gone bust? Surely not. I was there just two weeks ago.

Then I found another number. It rang. Phew! But nobody answered. I finished my coffee and tried again. This time the automatic menu answered. I pressed 1 for taller. Nobody in the workshop picked up.

Ana María

I happened to have the private mobile of the receptionist, Ana María, so I dialled that. Ana María answered: Hola, Pol, qué tal?

I said I needed to book a service. Oh I don’t work there any longer, she said. However, she confirmed that the garage was not bankrupt nor permanently closed.

When I said nobody was answering their phone, she said they were short-staffed (partly caused by her leaving, I guess!) Her brother, Salvador, the workshop manager, was still off sick following a hernia operation, but that I should persevere in ringing.

I asked where she worked now. I’m a waitress at the Japanese restaurant on Calle Jerez. Japanese restaurant?  In Ronda?  Blimey!  Whatever next?  An Indian?  (No chance; Indian or Bangladeshi food is too spicy for the Spanish, so, despite several attempts over the years, they’ve never taken off in Ronda).

On the spur of the moment, I asked if they might have a table for that very evening. My wife, Rita, and I were going to a Fashion Show, Ronda de Moda, that evening and were intending to eat dinner afterwards. We recently enjoyed a great Japanese meal in Germany, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for my other half.

Ana María was due to start work at the restaurant within the hour so she said she would check and call me back.

As I ordered a second coffee I was greeted by one of the owners of Las Maravillas, José María, my former vet. He is no longer a vet, but a restaurateur!

I rang the garage again and got through to a rough-voiced man in taller.

I need a service for my car.

Certainly, sir.

Hang on a minute; is that Salvador? I thought you were on the sick?

I am, but we’re short-staffed, so I came in today to help out. (The garage is a family firm, so that figures!) Next Monday at 9.00 am, ok?

Fine. I’ll be there on Monday.

I hung up. My mobile rang immediately. DHL. We have a packet for you but can’t find your address.

It was my long-awaited passport. After some verbal to-ing and fro-ing we arranged that my valuable document, for which I have to sign, will be delivered to me in Montejaque on Tuesday morning.

[Editor’s note: To read how to get a UK Emergency Travel Document, click here.]

I paid for my coffee and left. I needed to go to the Casa de la Cultura to pick up tickets for a play about refugees that we wanted to see. The Japanese restaurant is just across the road from there, so I decided to pop in and take a look.

Miyagi Express Sushi Bar

Ana María was there along with colleague Rubén. Then she told me something that took me completely by surprise. The joint owner of the sushi restaurant is none other than Marcos Marcell, the Ronda-born professional actor and director who runs the theatre school where I was a member, Proyecto Platea.

Another person who has diversified, similar to José María at Las Maravillas.

Fashion Show

Come 8 pm and it was time for Ronda de Moda at the Convento de Santo Domingo.

You’ll probably be the only bloke, said Rita.

Wrong, there were lots of men, some very pretty and camp, but other blokes of my age and younger. The place was heaving: women of all ages, men and children.

We found two seats in the third row from the pasarela (runway) and sat back to enjoy the display of fashions from local boutiques, including three of Rita’s favourites: Colette, El Diván de Frida and N de Nati.

My first time ever at a fashion show, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t yawn once during the whole of the two-hour presentation.

The models were stunning, by the way – the female ones too!


Then it was off to the Miyagi Express Sushi Bar for dinner.

Small and intimate, the restaurant is at the bottom of Calle Jerez opposite the church.

We were welcomed by Ana María and sat in the comfortable reception area while our table was readied. Marcos Marcell came over to welcome us and to say hello. He hadn’t met Rita before.

He told us that his production of the play El Enfermo Imaginario (The Imaginary Invalid) by Moliere would be on at the Teatro Vicente Espinel in January. Out of interest I was due to play the lead role of the imaginary invalid, Argan, until I became a real invalid with Covid-19 during early rehearsals and had to pull out.

Rita was excited in anticipation of our meal. Me too. We’re both very inexperienced in Japanese cuisine, so we ordered two different kombos to share, which offered us practically all the different types of sushi on the menu.

We enjoyed hosomakis, nigiris, futomakis, uramakis, gyozas and ensalada wakame (seaweed). No idea what they all mean, but who cares, they were delicious.

I had two Japanese beers (brewed under licence in Bavaria, Germany) and Rita two glasses of verdejo. Just over 50 euros altogether.

We’ll be back!


Miyagi Express Sushi Bar is open from Thursday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. They also offer a takeaway and a home delivery service.

Calle Jerez, 2, 29400 Ronda, Spain.

Tel: 642 62 32 80


Oh! And should there be any doubt, Serendipity is alive and well in Ronda

Editor’s note: To read Serendipity I – straw bales, double doors and a house for sale, click here.




Paul Whitelock

About Paul Whitelock

Paul Whitelock is a retired former languages teacher, school inspector and translator, who emigrated to the Serranía de Ronda in 2008, where he lives with his second wife, Rita. He spends his time between Montejaque and Ronda doing DIY, gardening and writing.