“Un muerto en España está más vivo como muerto que en ningún sitio del mundo.”
“A dead man in Spain is more alive than a dead man anywhere in the world”, Federico Garcia Lorca, presumed assassinated by the Falangists (Fascist movement founded in Spain in 1933; the one legal party in Spain under the regime of Franco).
Now that the ferocious winds are hopefully behind us and the nights are still quite chilly, the sun on our bodies is a tantalising reminder of the consistent warmth to come. The light is clear and sharp, the warmed soil is greening up, the butterflies are fluttering by, the figs are coming into leaf and the blue tits are dancing together outside the bedroom window. This is the glory of Spain.
A slight drawback to the drier weather is that the roads become even dustier and the hikers become more plentiful so it’s only courteous to slow right down for them which usually results in a sort of inane waving session, then making a very quick assimilation as to the language to greet them in. The noisiest by far are the Spanish, the English smile and wave (the Nissan has Spanish plates so they don’t initially know we’re English). The Scandinavians and Germans use walking poles, all the correct attire and – how can I say it – are less effusive in their greetings, if they greet at all!
We’re so lucky to mostly have these brilliant trackways to ourselves for most of the time, save for the goats of course. This lot appeared from nowhere and decided to risk life and limb by leaping out in front of the car. Unusually, no-one was in control of them, and they obviously realised this! Yesterday we had a similar occurrence: a herd without a controller, but instead of flying goats, we were confronted by about 30 inert and largely comatose sheep lying across the track, sunning themselves, They took a lot of moving.
Ricardo’s brother is still managing the 120 or so goats while Ricardo is recovering from his head injury. In addition to his job as a mechanic, Antonio somehow manages to drive to the campo to milk all the goats – this has to be done every day – deliver the milk, return to the village, come back to let the goats out, walk god knows how many kilometres up hill and down dale (and it is really steep) for hours and hours before returning them safely home just before dusk. Then he beds them in and feeds the dogs. And he is often out again first thing looking for strays. What dedication all that must take, for such small rewards. Brotherly love perhaps? He said the other day (in broad Andalús) that he was so happy to be in such a heavenly place – a little different from his brother’s outlook.
We have been continuing to pick up stray stones from around and about, and it’s such a pleasant interlude that we’ve started to take with us a thermos of coffee and sit in the sunshine watching nature go about its work. No need to rush around; we’ve got all the time in the world, haven’t we? We found a Eucalyptus shaded nook with a small waterfall and the remains of a centuries-old wall, Moorish maybe? Don’t worry, we left that exactly as it was! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe that all this is on our doorstep.
The path and step building project is gaining momentum. In the rainy season a barrage of water cascades down the drive and unless it’s channelled properly it can wash away the drive. Joe has now constructed this stone bridge over the drainage culvert and he is now making his way down into another section of the woodland, huge stones for steps, all with a character of their own.
Watching him is like watching a master chess player. He has an uncanny ability to pick up a stone knowing it will fit exactly into his plan. He digs away at the bank, makes a precise space for each stone, then pounds it in place, only stopping when the back of the car is empty! Ready for the next load.
We inadvertently gave a little gekko a lift the other day, having found him during the unloading process. A bit like the somnambulant sheep, he just would not move off this stone but reluctantly scurried away when prodded. I don’t know what they eat, but to the right of him was some sort of cocoon thing, so that could have been a meal he was reluctant to leave.
Our new network of steps and paths is on the side of our land bordering the Parque track. It has sweeping views across to where we get the water, to Ricardo’s goat house, and the ruined finca, now inhabited by some large bats.
Standing there, the two of us, it’s a good vantage point to watch people come staggering up the stony track from the mountain village behind us. It’s rare that they look up and see us as, coming to the end of a 2km vertiginous walk in the getting-stronger sun, they could well have more pressing things on their mind.
The sunshine hasn’t had such a beneficial effect on Harry the horse and although alive and well, he was beginning to look a bit dry and flaky. Some quite large cracks were beginning to reveal his humble construction origins – a local artist made him from spare bits of moth-eaten, worm-ridden timber. Anyhow, I’ve now saddled him with a coat of paint which should just keep him going for another year. One day he will disintegrate but fingers crossed not quite yet!