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About Anna Ungelo

Anna Ungelo

When Anna Ungelo, a young Finnish writer living in Paris, visited Nerja for the first time around 1957, it was still a small and quiet fishermen village: no hotels, no souvenir shops, no supermarkets, hardly any foreigner and just one car, the taxi. Anna fell immediately in love with the uniqueness of the place.

With her husband Maurice Zalcman, they rented a room in the only bar in that alley that would later become world famous as ‘Balcon de Europa’.

Anna Ungelo (Lahti-Finland 1932) is the daughter of the Finnish writer Yrjö Kokko. She met her husband, a Polish-born French artist, during a study trip in Paris. The couple was traveling along the Andalusian cost as part of a remembrance tour for Maurice to recall his dramatic journey as a soldier, during WW2, when he fled through Málaga on his way to join the US forces in Africa. You can see more about his life and his art in this page.

The young couple quickly befriended with local families in Nerja, who then truly adopted them as ones of their’s. Anna was privileged enough to have a view on Nerjeños’ intimate life, behind the shutters. She found out how these seemingly ordinary and peaceful people were dealing with the trauma of the civil war, just a few years earlier.

From these encounters she wrote her novel, in Finnish, ‘Pysähtyneet Kellot’, namely ‘The Still Clocks’. The stories take place in the imaginary village Alhama, and person names have been changed.

From that time, the family would spend all their free time, first in Nerja by their friends, and later in their small house in nearby Cantarrijan. Anna would drive the then 4 days trip in their car with the 3 children, 2 adopted Andalusian dogs and often guests, to finally reach that place where they felt they always belonged.

Now in her later age, Anna Ungelo sees the memories in the ancient Nerja in her dreams. Her book has just been translated into Spanish, finally. Anna wants to introduce to the readers the Nerja that she remembers, to let them meet the people that she met. She wants them to see, like she saw herself, what Nerja was like once, long time ago.

Listen to the voices
In her book the author is talking about friendship and love; she takes you back to long-forgotten places.

The next time when you’re visiting Balcon de Europe, close your eyes and listen to the voices of Plácido and Antonio, the voices of Paco and Filomena. Listen to the happy laughter of the people who are very much alive in the heart and mind of the author. Take a stroll in a Nerja that doesn’t exist anymore, a Nerja that we should remember, meet the friends that are not forgotten. The Nerja we see nowadays is maybe not the same anymore but somewhere her old heart is still beating, is unattached by time. That is the old Nerja Anna is showing in her book: a small village that she has loved her whole life, a village where life was peaceful floating from one day to another and where time had seem to disappear: Los Relojes Parados.