Saturday, January 12, 2008

The extranjero returns - absence makes the heart grow fonder

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.


Jeannie! said...

oh you made me feel I want to come back to Spain. I did a post the other day about our amazing holiday in Frigiliana.....and after typing it all out, and viewing the photos and vids, I so, so, so, wanted to go back!

We met with nothing but friendly people while we were in both Frigiliana and Nerja, and I know it was only a holiday, but I really felt sad when it was time to come home. Also the fresh fruit and vegetables, they do taste better when they are locally grown. I am starting to dislike TESCO instensely and their domination of this country.

Your comments at the end about if you went back to the UK after 10 years absence, ring so true.

I have lived in the same house and road for nearly 25 years, and still do not know hardly anyone! I often think if we moved away tomorrow, no-one would miss us or notice we were gone. And we are very friendly and gregarious people!

I have not spoken to my next door neighbour would you believe for over 20 years!!!!! My you, he is a weirdo, but even so, it beggars belief.

What a wonderful homecoming for you all! Viva Espana!

Blue said...

UK neighbours!
Don't get me started.
How delightful to be so welcomed back to Spain.

I've just given you a blogland award. I think its deserved.

Best wishes

Flowerpot said...

havign good neighbours makes such a difference doesnt it? In fact we did get a welcome like that when we came back from a few days away last year from our neighbours - quite made the day!

The Brat Pack said...

What a great post, thanks for sharing it. What a nice homecoming!

I remember growing up and everyone would sit out in their yards in the evening, everyone knew everyone else. Now not so much in my world anymore anyway. We all pull in our garages when we come home and I can barely tell you the names of two of my neighbors. It's sad when you think about it.

I'm envious your homegrown veggies. I'm having a hard time finding anything here that's not big name.

Frasier said...

It seems like family!!!

Frasypoo said...

I did an India post today

The Brat Pack said...

Hey there
I saw your comment on my be honest I'm trying to use all the other stuff (like the workouts) to distract me from last week. I have the bad habit of consuming myself in the bad and I'm trying to stop. (ha)

I never lose weight, I gain muscle but that's about it. Mostly I would like to be in better cardio shape so I could go hiking and things like that. I have NO stamina now so it wouldn't be very enjoyable.

You're my food hero. :)

Ruby Bleu said...

That really is a wonderful thing. I get the feeling you still (like I would) find it a bit 'odd' to get such a warm welcome, but it is great. Kind of makes me wonder why I live where I live!

Ferndoggle said...

Spain sounds so wonderful! My neighborhood is nothing like this. We barely talk to each other.