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Friday, December 3, 2021

Childhood memories from the Spanish countryside

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Flying Dutchman
For detailed biographical information, please check the very first article of this blog. Thanks!

It had been a long time since I had lunch with Spanish friends two days in a role. This wasn’t just because of the coronavirus pandemic, but also due to the fact that it often takes weeks to make an appointment, including social gatherings.

Today I went to a little village of about 100 inhabitants, approximately 60 kilometers north of Valencia, with a Canadian friend and his Spanish wife, who emigrated to the country with the maple leaf flag about 25 years ago.

We met a former classmate who bought a house there a while ago and renovated it completely. He nowadays spends most of his weekends there with his spouse far away from the busy city where both of them work.

Four of us went on a long walk through the countryside and we passed an old wash house which immediately reminded me of the one in the village where my late father acquired property in the early 1970s.

For me as a young boy it was kind to shocking to see the local women do their laundry there, even in winter at freezing temperatures, as they had been done for centuries.

I’m still not sure when the first modern washing machines arrived, though probably at the end of the decade and this old ritual suddenly belonged to the past.

The rapid modernization also had its obvious disadvantages. All kinds of non-reusable containers started to litter the environment and before the regional government placed a trash container to be emptied regularly, the growing amount of garbage was thrown onto a little field nearby and then burned without any control whatsoever.

Although there were only 25 people living in the hamlet at the time, there were three bars. Business wasn’t particularly good during the week, but during the weekend it improved significantly as tourists started arriving.

The Catholic Church build a youth summer camp for children from less affluent families very close by and the place step by step became quite well-known. One of my school buddies ended up there a couple of times and really liked it.

So famous that at the peak of its popularity one couldn’t find a parking spot on the only square. The priest soon had enough of so much hustle and bustle. He asked to be transferred and I never saw him again.

I have absolutely no proof for this theory, but I think that maybe because a foreigner had purchased a rambling old shed in a dying one-horse town it somehow came back to life and actually boomed.

Probably 25 years have passed since I was there for the last time and I can’t say that it miss it at all. My oldest brother sold what was left of our inheritance many years ago and has never given me my share of it. Well, that’s a different story…

After our return to the host’s home, the five of us started to eat around 2 PM, which for a Sunday in Spain is pretty early. The food was good and the company even better. Of course the whole event included a short siesta. Spaniards do indeed know who to enjoy life!

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