Well, the three of us have finally arrived back at the finca.
Since Partner decided to get himself A Job, he and the dog have not been out of Gib.
Anyone who reads this blog from time to time will know that I, on the other hand, have been leading an adventurous life on buses between La Linea and Málaga, on my regular trips to check the finca, feed the chickens, water the garden and collect the post. Oh, and I got to sleep in a proper bed which is more than we have in Gib.
On the first day back, Partner took some teabags from Gib round to some English friends. He managed to avoid anyone Spanish.
The next day was unbelievable. José next door hollered for Partner. Beaming all over his face he proudly handed over half a dozen huge lemons and clasped Partner as though he was his long-lost son. (Actually he doesn’t see his son very often, not only does he not live in the same street, he doesn’t even live in the same village). I thought it was so sweet that he felt he had to give Partner a present because he hadn’t seen him for so long.
“Me alegro. Cuanto tiempo,” said José, still shaking Partner’s hand vigorously. Much Feliz Año Nuevos were then exchanged, followed by “How skinny you are with all that work.”
A bit later Adelina came out. The same procedure, except she got kisses, and the same conversation. Nobody told me I was skinny, probably because I have put on weight over the last few months.
We started to fiddle about with the Land Rover in the street. The neighbour two houses up (José and Adelina’s son-in-law) waved and tooted. Half the time they pretend we don’t exist.
The bread delivery man drove up. We used to get bread from Manolo when we first arrived, but then I started to make my own so we haven’t bought from him since. But he never fails to wave and smile, and he is a nice guy. So he slowed right down, and his arm was out of the window to shake hands and have a chat.
Juan the Gitano, the one who gave us the cockerel back in April drove past on his quad. And stopped. More “Me alegro de verte. Where have you been? I’ve missed you. But if you need money you need to work where you can. Hasta luego.”
Tia Negra walked past. When we first arrived she had black hair and she is the auntie of one of the neighbours, hence the name we gave her. Auntie Black Hair. She stuck her hand out too. “Como estas? Me alegro. Feliz Año Nuevo.”
Today he cycled into town. He went to the veg shop. The owner put her hand out straightaway. “Hijo, te echado de menos. Donde estabas?” “Well, I’ve been working in Gib,” he answered. The (Spanish) guy behind nearly fell on the floor. “Well, where is he from?” he asked the shop owner.
“He lives in my pueblo,” she said proudly. “He is a buen constructor, pintor, mecanico, he is a very good worker.”
He bought some beautiful peas, artichokes, pimientos, tomatoes, green onions, and a couple of cucumbers. Almost all of the stuff is grown locally. It’s interesting to compare the difference with the veg I buy in Gib. I think it is much fresher here.
The old guy in the bike shop repeated the whole scenario. Handshake, Happy New Year, and I’ve missed you.
Then he went to a bar. Joachim naturally shook hands and asked where on earth Partner had been. He speaks good English, and French, but given that we live in Spain we always speak to him in Spanish. He goes by the name of Jack to most people, so one day we asked him what his real name was, and he always looks so pleased that we call him Joachim, and speak in Spanish. There was a Spaniard in the bar, he’s about 80 odd and has an andador – a walking frame. His eyesight is going, but he obviously remembered Partner’s rubbish accent. More hand-shaking and Feliz Año Nuevo with Antonio.
The English owner had been worried. She had rung us on our Spanish number a few times to find out if we were ok. “I’ve missed you,” she said, exactly like all the Spaniards.
And, on his return home from town, he has seen both of next-doors’ daughters. More kisses, hand-shakes, and chat.
Now I can understand people with a business missing the trade (having had a business ourselves), but all these people in the village being so pleased to see him? We haven’t even met the dog-biscuit man and his sons, or José Antonio who works in the fields and lives up the back. If we went back to the city in the UK where we lived for ten years, we wouldn’t get any of this. Spain. We like it. So does the dog.