Friday, 17 August 2007
Sahagun, it's a helluva town!
I woke up with an Electric Light Orchestra song stuck in my head: Mister Blue Sky. And indeed, the sky was brilliant outside the plank door of our cave.
Paddy had been up for ages. He scowled and said little, but had excellent coffee. We went over to the bodega, which is white as a dove now that the two coats of whitewash are setting up and sealing all the little pits and holes in the concrete. We put the last of the Luminous Blue on the lintels. It´s a knockout. You can see it all blinding white from out on the N120.
The inside is still a spider-hole, and Paddy calls the bodega our ¨whited sepulchre.¨ (He is such a ray of sunshine.) We both are very pleased with how it´s turned out. A concrete mixer of our own may be grinding away in our future. You´re not really a homeowner if you don´t have one, and there really are 1,001 applications for concrete on any given weekend.
We expected the plumber and builders and plumbing supplies to show up today, as yesterday was the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady and everyone was off. We set off early for Sahagun. I had to take my spankin´ new Stihl back to the Chainsaw Boutique. I believe I ordered (and paid-for) a 160cc, but the one I got is a 140. Clarity is needed. The man who sold it wasn´t there, so we have to go back tomorrow. I think it was an honest mistake, but I wanna know. We are getting a bit fed-up with people sorta-kinda taking more of our money than we agreed to pay, or being given products of lesser quality, and being expected to suck it up…
Sorry. Anyway, Sahagun is throbbing these days, with TWO traffic cops valiantly trying to keep the cars from triple-parking on the incoming Avenida de Constitucion, while the big weekly delivery to the Lupa Grocery arrived on the next street up and proceeded to unload for an hour, effectively blocking the outgoing traffic artery at the busiest time of day. Then a funeral cortege tried to leave St. Lawrence church. The grocery truck driver, with a whistle-tooting cop and several formally attired funeral-goers shouting at him, finally just abandoned several pallets of dairy goods just inside the sliding doors of the packed market, slammed the truck doors shut, and pulled away… and back-ended the meat delivery truck double-parked outside the butcher shop on the next block.
The funeral people were apoplectic, and the crowds coming and going got a heckuva show. I don´t know if the dead person ever made it to the cemetery, but If nothing else could make the dead get up and walk, this might do it.
Meanwhile, I went to get a haircut. I love getting haircuts in Sahagun, because Peluqueria Conchi, where I go every six weeks or so, is such a vortex of strange and wonderful ladies.
And it´s just up the street from the remains of San Facundo, a Benedictine monastic complex that once ruled this sector of Spain and spun off Conquistadors, saints, scholars, and wicked abbots for a good 600 years. All that remains now is a clock tower, a fabulous Mudejar church, some well-preserved ruins, and a prim convent of a dozen or so Benedictine nuns who watch over the remains. (San Facundo --> Sahagun. Geddit?)
Conchi (whose real name is Concepcion), is related to at least one of the sisters, and she routinely does their hair. These nuns still wear veils, so you´d think what hair they have wouldn´t require a highly skilled beautician. But one thing I learned there is that nun hats pinch, and nun scalps get very irritated and sore where the stitching rubs, and some of the sisters have ongoing infections. Conchi keeps a special set of combs in an antiseptic solution, just for use on the longsuffering Benedictinas. They offer up their injuries for the salvation of our sinful world, presumably.
The last time I went there the woman in the next chair ¨had a little accident.¨ Her false teeth (which looked from the get-go like they belonged to someone else) fell out of her mouth and skittered across the floor, and the woman, swathed in an apron with her hair half-covered in highlights, attempted to drop to her knees and feel around for it. Conchi saw the teeth grinning down there, and quite casually picked up the plate, rinsed it off in the shampoo basin, and handed it back to the lady, who popped it into her mouth as she regained her seat and her dignity. No one said a word about it.
And today, another old lady in the chair chatted happily about how she looked forward to the fiesta her pueblo is holding this weekend, how she loves to dance jotas and paso dobles, how this is the only time anyone gets to dance these dances any more. She demonstrated the proper positioning for fingers and hands – there´s a Catalan way and a ¨regular¨ way, she said, and showed us both from underneath her cape. Cochi clicked and snipped a castanet rhythm with her thinning shears, then swept away the apron and spun the chair around. She handed the lady her walking stick and helped her to her feet. Only then I saw a large section of the lady´s shin is gone, surgically sheared down to skin and bone. She smiled and hobbled out, wishing everyone ´felices fiestas.´ She´ll be dancing jotas all weekend, if only in her great big heart.
I got my ten-Euro shampoo, cut, and blow-dry, and the bells at San Facundo chimed noon as I stepped out the door.
We headed home, where Paddy made tuna steaks and couscous and pimientos de Padron for our al fresco lunch. We drank cold vino verde and looked at the newest ´Casas de Campo´ decorator pornography magazine. We talked about color schemes and lighting and tiles, while our half-finished house glowered quietly behind us.
The bozos didn´t show up again today. Tomorrow, they said. ¨No te preocupes.¨ Don´t worry.
I´m not worrying much, as this weekend is the fiesta in Moratinos, too, and there´s plenty to do around here. I am helping clean the church and snap beans for a huge community paella, things women do. (And the Benedictinas in Sahagun, knowing I´m a Federation hospitalera, this evening called and asked if I´ll run their pilgrim refuge from the 24th to the 31st. I´ll have my own cell in the cloister. Cool.)
But Paddy is worried, burdened, and not feeling well. All the struggle and shouting is really wearing on him, and the things I use to keep myself going aren´t the things he needs.
What is required is progress. A good plumber, a houseful of hammering and pounding, painting and wiring, some visible payoff for all the money we´ve spent. I think we really just need to get this building project over with already.
Maybe next week I´ll get the Benedictinas on the case. I understand they´ve got powerful connections to a certain Carpenter.