Seriously. There are no words.
When I walked (staggered) into the village health centre on Thursday morning I didn’t need any words. I stood swaying in the doorway and three waiting patients grabbed me and guided me to a seat, while two doctors and two nurses rushed to my side. For a smallish village we are lucky to have a 24-hour “Urgencias” onsite and our own ambulance, and it wasn’t long before I was strapped in and the siren sounded and we headed for Málaga. Continue reading
And finally the rain came. Not enough, but it rained. Across Andalucía farmers breathed a sigh of relief along with the bomberos (firefighters), the dryish leaves on my patio trees lifted their faces and cheered up a little, and everyone gratefully flung open all the doors and windows to allow the cool air into the houses. I pottered outside for half an hour, moving plants to the centre so they would catch more of the precious drops, enjoying standing in the cool, gentle drizzle. It’s refreshing. Continue reading
She’s not at all an unpleasant woman. Not as far as I’ve seen, and nor does anyone mention they’ve found her difficult. A bit grumpy at times, but then this is not the life she had imagined. Perhaps a bit judgemental, not really willing or able to see that nobody else wanted to be there either. Doesn’t participate in group activities, seems to sneer slightly at the art and craft workshops. But pleasant enough, a nice smile, easy to chat to. Continue reading
Language is cultural as much as grammatical. The Spanish don’t say “my” as much as we do. I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing, something to do with not wanting to boast, not wanting to appear too proud, or what. It felt odd at first, but you become accustomed to it. “The head hurts me” to the doctor. “The tooth hurts me” to the dentist. No need to say “my tooth” – after all, nobody else’s tooth is likely to hurt me. Continue reading
The arguments have been much more vicious, more deep-felt. People have been unable to agree to disagree. It’s been far worse than an ordinary General Election. Perhaps because we’ve had our whole adult lives to get used the concept of different political parties, different viewpoints, different ways of organising a country’s budget and services – different, but not radically so. Not really. Continue reading
You gotta have roots. Life would be just … I don’t know … just too transient and superficial without roots.
Living in a new country, you have to find ways of accelerating the process of putting down roots. A sort of Baby Bio for immigrants. Continue reading
Suddenly Paqui began to sing. The room fell silent, and even the aggressive guy in the corner, who had been talking to himself and shouting randomly, looked up and listened quietly as she sang a saeta. It was Mercedes’ birthday and twenty of us gathered to celebrate with her. She received her gifts with gratitude as enormous as her smile, and she closed her eyes tightly to make a wish as she blew out the candles. People laughing and chatting – smiles that could light up the darkest of spaces, the darkest of lives. Paqui finished her song and received applause, shouts of “¡Óle!” and a hug from Mercedes. Continue reading
Lorenzo picked a red plastic tricycle wheel off the cushion and lowered his not inconsiderable frame into the armchair nearest the fire. He’s a man of few words; he settled himself down, and gazed around. His wife, their seven children, half a dozen of the children’s partners, eleven grandchildren, and a couple of young boyfriends of the teenage granddaughters, plus a random cousin or three, were variously clambering on the backs of the sofas, curling their hair in the bathroom, stirring huge pots on the stove, wiping down plastic chairs, and counting out 32 sets of cutlery. Continue reading
Christmas in Palestine. It’s something that calls to many people, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, or even agnostic. Birthplace of the alphabet, of Judaism, and of Christianity. With a million years of human settlement, it was one of the earliest places in the world to see organised human habitation and agricultural development. Continue reading
There’s a guy called Dirk Wolz in a small town in Germany who has opened his home to twenty-four Muslim refugees. #Respect. There are few people who would do that. Very few. I couldn’t. I have only one, and that’s been challenging and enriching in equal measures. Continue reading