The sound of a group of very loud Spanish people could be heard from the cortijo. I put down my glass of wine and the novel I was reading, and went to the balcony to see who was there. It was a Sunday afternoon, hot and sticky, and quite often walkers or nature lovers would pass by. The group were a blur to me through the olive trees however I waved and shouted a friendly Hola!, to which they all shouted enthusiastically with an unsynchronised Hola! in response. They walked on by and I went back to reading my book with my Sunday glass of red.
About an hour later I could hear the animated voices I had heard earlier but seemingly much closer this time and again went to the balcony to see what was happening. This time they were in the patio and shouting questions at me in Spanish! I decided to go down and see what all the excitement was about. There were seven of them altogether, and like all Spanish, spoke very loudly and all at the same time. When I responded in my not so fluent Spanish, an uninterrupted hush hung in the air until I had finished and then they all spoke at me together again. Silence fell as I answered and then they all spoke at once again. This was going to be difficult, I thought. The youngest of the group, a beautiful young 21 year old named Irish offered her pigeon English to compliment my pigeon Spanish and she introduced her family to me – her mother Fina and father Agustin, her father’s brother Francisco and his wife Mara, and the mother of her mother and the mother to her father. (I think !!) Making 3 generations of a family I later found out has over 500 people within it.
Irish told me her family had connections in the past with Cortijo Las Salinas. It was a very famous house and a landmark with a great history to go with it. I couldn’t believe they had just turned up this way as I had recently begun to do my own research of the house and its past occupants and believed that serendipity was afoot. I eagerly showed them around proudly showing off mine and Steven’s restoration achievements to which they approved, thankfully. When we came to my studio a great mutual appreciation society was born due to at least 75% of the party being artists or poets. I proudly showed off my paintings and explained the ones hanging around the studio again to the hushed group and a connection between us had been made.
After about an hour we finished the ‘tour’ at the threshing circle that we have, and Irish told me many weddings had been held there in the past. The older ladies of the group were getting tired and I could see I was reluctantly going to have to draw a close to the excited evening we were sharing. We exchanged names and email addresses and Irish and I promised to keep in touch, I wanted to know more about my house and Fina, Irish’s mother, I discovered had started to do her own research about 3 months ago, the time I began mine.
‘Are you scared here all by yourself?’ Fina asked, just before they left.
‘No’, I said, ‘should I be’? Fina smiled. ‘I do ‘feel’ things though’.
Just then, my cat Picasso appeared from nowhere. ‘Did you bring your cat from England?’
I shook my head. ‘No, he arrived here soon after we did’.
‘He will have been sent to protect you’ Fina said superstitiously as Picasso rubbed himself through my legs.
After lots of kisses and adios I waved them off with Picasso standing next to me watching everything knowingly. This encounter had left me with a strange feeling of excitement and anticipation of what I might find out about Cortijo Las Salinas and its past.
A few days later I was laying in the bath after a long day working on the cortijo and was disturbed by the telephone ringing. Normally I would not leap out of the bath just to answer the phone, preferring to check my messages later or press the missed calls button. However, this particular evening something made me leap out of the bath and actually run to the phone. It was Irish. I somehow knew it would be and between our smattering of each others language we arranged lunch with her family in Granada.
To say I felt excitement is an understatement and to make this meeting work I knew I had to enlist the translation services of my very good, multi linguistic friend, Fran.
‘Fran, I need your help’ I said and went on to explain what had happened. ‘So, can you telephone Irish and confirm I have the day and time correct. Oh, and can you tell her you will be coming too!’
Fran, always happy to help, and keen to know more about the secrets of the house telephoned Irish and then called me back to say I should have more confidence in my Spanish. The date and time was correct and that she would definitely have a place at the lunch table.