(“I’m turning into a nomad”)
by Bob Fretwell
(ex-El Burgo, ex-Fuente de Piedra, ex-La Roda de Andalucia)
(previously ex-Warrington, Swadlincote, USA, Mexico, Paraguay and a few others)
Last time I wrote we, my wife Julie and I, were living happily in El Burgo, where they have the annual fiesta I wrote of [Fiesta fireworks!] …but we moved! Here are the reasons why.
When we moved into our wonderful El Burgo home (we were renting, and still do) it was described as a “big” house by the owner. When we viewed, it looked tiny from the front, but in the magical way of Spanish builders EVERY house, shop, etc., expands once you get inside. (Back to Harry Potter magic again! Or maybe Dr Who’s Tardis.) It looked like a single storey, but because of the very steep mountainside it was built on the house went down three storeys and was, in fact, an old olive mill. We loved it.
Unfortunately, one summer (2 June) I was working on the computer around 7.00am, when I was startled by the sound of pneumatic drills from above…
What I didn’t know was that the property line(s) for our house and those of our neighbours criss-crossed in a pattern that can only be guessed by Spanish lawyers!
Our neighbours on one side owned the upstairs of the house next door and the ground floor of the house on the other side of us. Their plan (though we didn’t realise that then) was to join their properties together by building over us. It took more than six months. The only time the space in the very narrow street outside our home was free of piles of sand, cement, bricks and concrete mixers, etc., was for the afore-hinted-at Fiesta in the August.
When it was finished, and the dust finally settled, we were proudly shown round the new three-storey edifice that towered over our home (and I mean on top of it!) and looked forward to a period of quiet, when we could enjoy our home and avoid having the computer crash every time the electric hoist was commissioned to hoist a wheelbarrow full of cement to the top of the building site. This ALWAYS tripped our electricity!
It worked! Until I tried to light our fire. We had a large fireplace which we had enjoyed the previous winter with metre-long logs crackling merrily. During the building work our chimney had been cut off (as it now went through their living room) and reconstructed to emerge another 15-20 metres in the air above their own chimneys. Unfortunately there was now insufficient drawing power through the system to allow any smoke out. It DID get out, but only through our house and poured out of the front door with us coughing and with eyes streaming.
“Lo siento,” (I’m sorry) they said, “we’ll fix it tomorrow.” (This being January.)
In March, they put a spinning cowl on top which improved matters a little, except when there was no wind, and when the wind was too strong.
We loved the house, and the village folk, so we persevered, until… One of our next door neighbours (We now had four families. This one was the ground-floor (rear) neighbour who was the mother/father of one of the ones that went over us and into the house the other side…Oh, this is far too complicated to explain…let’s just say a neighbour) had a severe stroke. It took quite a while for her to get back to normal. As a way of recompensing his wife for his continual absence her husband bought her a puppy, which stayed in the house with her for company. No problem.
When she was sufficiently recovered, however, and in the way of many of the Spanish, the dog, now considerably bigger, was chained up in their yard (which we overlooked) with their other dog, a miserable-looking soul who had rarely barked and was chained all the time as a “guard” dog. They now had two.
Rarely fed, these dogs were chained so they couldn’t actually reach each other, and only occasionally could they reach the half-loaf of stale bread that was thrown to them every two or three days. When this happened and the birds flew down confident that neither dog could touch them and devoured their only food, both dogs would break into a frenzy of frustration that would last for hours.
The dogs’ solution to this dilemma was to bark. It didn’t get them any food, but they seemed to like this break from monotony. So much that they continued to do it, food or not, birds or not, visitors or not, passers by or not… well, you get the picture. All night it went on; every half-hour or so the young one would bark, then the old one would join him, then other neighbours’ dogs across the back, across the vast countryside (and, seemingly, in our bedroom) would all join in with a nightly cacophony that seemed never-ending. We couldn’t sleep.
The decision to move came when the top-floor neighbour of the house next door over the other next-door neighbour’s bit… well, again let’s just say “a neighbour”, had two truckloads of roof tiles delivered, then a truckful of building blocks, then sand, cement and the compulsory concrete mixer… This coincided with the imminent end of our rental contract with our landlord.
Julie said she had to go… and fast!
Sierra de Yeguas, Málaga