Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Falling snow & tumbledown houses
It´s been a while since I posted, but I have to wrestle the computer from Libby´s claw-like grasp to use it. She´s fixing to go back to Ohio, and she´s job-hunting and she´s homesick, too. So I kinda leave her to it.
Biggest news round here is the season´s first snow is falling, as I write! I know it´s nothing compared to the great dump of white now being enjoyed by my friends in the US Midwest and central Canada, but it´s always an important seasonal marker for me: It means summer really truly is over. Waaaah! It also means the Spaniards will now barricade themselves at home for the next couple of days, as even a few flakes of snow means the roads are impassible and dangerous, and it´s way too cold for anything but playing cards and drinking orujo. (The web connection will doubtless go down, too, so I better hurry this up!)
The skies have been startlingly blue here for days and days, as you can see from at least one of the pictures. I love these landscapes, or skyscapes, really. Some poet once said "the landscape of Castile is in its skies." Amen, poet!
The reason for the tumbledown house pic is this is what´s known as "the French House." It is tucked onto a triangular patch of ground downtown, between the ayuntamiento and the bodegas, just off the Plaza Mayor. Jacques, a French former pilgrim, bought the abandoned house about 5 years ago and had impressive architectural plans drawn up for the site. He wanted to knock down the mud house and put up a modern, efficient 14-person pilgrim hostel. Our neighbor Modesto, a sort of Town Father, has copies of the drawings. But the Frenchman´s marriage broke up, and Real Life intervened, and nothing ever came of it. No one saw Jacques again, or thought about him, until this Spring, when the house fell down.
Estebanito the new mayor sent a letter telling him the place is dangerous and needs to be knocked all the way down. And so now Jacques, apparently, is moving on it.
No one´s sure whodunnit, but somebody´s put plastic barrier ribbon around the site and attached a sign saying "Private Property: Work to Start June 08." No one knows if they´re just going to demolish the place, or put it on the market, or go ahead and build a hostel there. Modesto said he hasn´t heard from Jacques in ages.
The answer lies in the Ayuntamiento, and sometime soon I am sure the news will leak out. No matter what is said, I will lay odds we won´t see any kind of action until August at least. Unless the French are a do-it-yourself demolition team. Or something completely different is going on. Or no one´s really planning on doing anything at all over there, they just want to get The Man off their case.
It´s all part of the ongoing excitement here in Moratinos.
Meantime, the Jameses, the UK-based young family who really are working on a mud house for pilgrims in town, have taken refuge in Ireland for the winter. We´ve taken a couple of their more tropical plants inside to protect them from the nighttime cold, but I think it may be too late for the orange trees.
And the other cool thing is the footprints we´re seeing more and more over at The Promised Land. Here´s a pic. I snapped this morning. It´s the biggest dog foot I ever saw... that´s a Euro coin to one side, about the size of a US quarter or a UK 10p. piece. This is one BIG honkin´ dog. Or could it be...? With the snow...? A YETI! Woohoo! Gotta get this critter over the highway and onto the Camino! We could make a FORTUNE!