Enjoying ill-health – Spanish style

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“Catalina, Catalina!” called José today.

Partner went out on the assumption that he is a man and therefore José was calling for him although his name sounds nothing like Catalina.

I went out too, and José gave me some more huge fresh lemons. We obviously haven’t outstayed our welcome yet.

Anyway, I digress. The other day, Partner had cycled into town, José had gone for his paseo (walk) with his mates, so there was just me and Pippa and Adelina and Lassie (if a Spanish dog has a name, it is invariably an English one).

“¿Come estas?” I asked, thinking it was time I improved my Spanish which has deteriorated a bit while we have been in Gib, even though I try to keep up to it in the street, shops and bus. Naturally asking how someone is here guarantees a loooooong conversation, or at least a long monologue. All I have to say is “Ahh,” and “Si,” accompanied with a long, sad, and sympathetic face. I knew I would be in for the duration though.

Adelina’s first response was “Me duele todo/mucho el cuerpo.” That’s what she invariably says. I suppose it literally translates to my whole body hurts so much. I would probably say, I’m in agony. It’s usually her back. Sometimes it’s her chest. Occasionally her legs. Or she just feels flojo (weak and feeble).

She’d been to the hospital. She’d had radiography before we came back so she had been for the results. They were recommending an operation for a 78-year-old woman with osteoporosis, and a problem at the base of her spine.

Sensibly (in my opinion) she had declined. “Me da miedo,” she added. (Translates as “I’m frightened” – quite right too sweetheart, I’m not 78 and I wouldn’t fancy that sort of stuff either.) So they gave her some tablets. Vitamin D and calcium.

She reckons it’s because when she was young she was mal-nourished. Who knows? She worked in the fields as a very young girl, can’t read and write (except her name), and often the family just cooked what they grew. She said for ages she lived on the beans they grew because they couldn’t afford to buy anything.

Maybe she has bought into the mega milk and cheese advertising that now goes on here, and thinks she was deprived of it. It’s ironic when in the UK, the so-called Mediterranean diet is touted as being so healthy (ie little meat and dairy produce, more fish, loads of fresh vegetables and salad).

Advertising and media have a lot to answer for. Edited to add: Big business has a lot to answer for. Not that it ever will.

She also had to go down to the water tap, and carry heavy containers of water back to the house. It seems to me that she had a lot of physical work to do at a young age, and maybe did or didn’t get enough food. Can’t say.

Sometimes she is mareada (dizzy). A lot of Spaniards suffer this when the wind comes from the wrong direction. It sounds like something out of Mary Poppins but I joke not.

Then she told me about her grandson who had been admitted urgently with appendicitis – so much of the family had been meeting up at the hospital. The grandson had been discharged so he was ok. I proudly showed her my scar, and talked about my gangrene. I can’t usually add much to these conversations so this was a big moment for me. She acknowledged my scar graciously. We returned to other mundane health issues.

In winter everyone goes shooting off down to the medico (doctor), to get their ‘flu jab, and then later when they still get ‘flu anyway, they go for tablets.

We saw another neighbour – José Antonio – the day before yesterday. He was off to the the medico to collect medicines for his parents.

It’s obviously quite a social event down at the medico’s, although not something in which we participate. I think the older Spanish spent so long without an NHS under Franco that they still love the novelty value of being able to wander down, and get seen, and get treated for free.

Anyway Adelina is a great creaking gate, and I am fond of her. She has a wicked sense of humour in spite of all her ailments.

Oh, and the pictures? Just that we had peas yesterday, lots of them. Yummy. With fresh onions, carrots, parsley, lettuce, garlic, olive oil and a drop of (bottled) water.


3 comments on “Enjoying ill-health – Spanish style

  1. The veggies look so fresh in your pics, and my mouth was watering just at the thought of the lemons.Poor woman, her medical stuff sounds a nightmare. I had to laugh though at the bit where you said about the conversations in the street where all you have to say is “Ahh” and “Si” etc, and adopt a long sad face….There is an old Scottish guy I meet on the dog walk, we always have a very long conversation, but he has such a broad Scottish accent, I have to do exactly the same as you!Sometimes, I worry after speaking to him, that perhaps I have agreed to something without realising!!IMHO in the UK there is far too much dairy produce consumed generally. I just wish we could get back to the old type shops instead of the UK domination by the big supermarkets.Love and light – Jeannie xx


  2. In all my lovely tech skill I locked myself out of the dogs email yesterday so have to wait 24 hours. I should be able to get into it today and get your card!Thank you for thinking about us :)Those veggies look so fresh!Maryann


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