Waiting. The man from the gas company is due any time from 10am. He has to check my gas fittings, fit new tubes (they must be replaced every five years, and are stamped with their expiry date – the ones in my house have expired without ever being used, while the house stood empty), give me a contract, and supply me with two bombonas, big gas bottles, one for the cooker and one for the water heater.
Waiting. Things to do. Lorenzo, who is building a new house next door for his son, sends a painter in to whitewash my patio wall and repaint where he had retiled his son’s roof and had replastered the top of my wall. The painter does a good job, paints more of my wall than he has to, and leaves the patio clean and now even brighter. I beg a favour from Lorenzo, who kindly tweaks my cistern to stop the constant dribble of water into the toilet. Rocío, my lawyer, sends her husband in to change the locks. Poco a poco, little by little. The jobs get ticked off the list.
Waiting. Candelária pops in from the house opposite. She is pleased I have moved in but is worried I may not have water to drink or bread. I assure her that I do. She says that if I need anything from the shop I must ask her to get it for me. She is approximately 112 – shouldn’t I be doing her shopping? She is about to leave when suddenly she sees a religious icon on the wall. Despite my atheism I had asked the previous owner to leave me a carved stand with terracotta oil pots, and the painting on the wall above it – both looked so right in their positions I felt they should stay. Candelária bends her knee and crosses herself in front of it, then presses a kiss to the glass. Fittingly, the painting is of the village saint Candelária, for whom my neighbour was named. She pulls from her neckline a miniature portrait on a silver chain, the same picture as mine. Her thick Andaluz accent becomes faster and harder to follow as she extols the painting’s virtues and her excitement at seeing it. My attachment to it increases as my understanding grows of its story and its place.
Waiting. Until the gas man comes I cannot go out, cannot even waste an hour sunbathing as I may not hear the door from the roof terrace. There is no doorbell – do I need one? Or does everyone just shout and bang the door? Another question, another task. . Poco a poco, little by little, jobs get added to the list.
Waiting.. More coffee. It occurs to me that there is something very Spanish about waiting. No rush, it’ll happen when it happens. In the meantime – relax, have another drink. No pasa nada – there is nothing amiss.
Waiting? No. Not any more. Just relaxing ……. thinking ……. being.
© Tamara Essex 2012