Living in Spain, warts and all

Snail’s pace

The rain in Spain has continued to be a pain for much of this week. Patchy it may be but light and refreshing it isn’t. The heavy and ominous clouds roll in menacingly from the west and the long grey tendrils descending from them can be seen to be lashing the countryside on approach long before their staccato sting can be felt. I have been obliged to drive up to Alicante airport and back twice in the last five days and I can honestly report that on both occasions I have actually seen waves on the surface of the motorway.

The downside of such aggressive precipitation whilst driving is that of necessity it slows me down considerably, and the journey that normally takes me just over an hour one way (as long as I stick to the new 110kph speed limit, that is) then takes considerably longer.

The upside is that the Spanish, unaccustomed as they are to driving in such conditions, fear the wet and tend to pull over onto the hard shoulder to sit it out while the heavens empty, leaving me my own personal three-lane road.

The inclement elements put paid too to the Semana Santa parade in Bullas on Sunday  (and, I understand, in many other towns) . Here it was summarily cancelled on the basis that the costumes (the inverted ice cream cones, or Klu Klux Klan outfits as they are popularly known) do not come with an aqualung as standard. So they will just have to stay in mothballs for another year, and the kids will have to do without the armfuls of free sweeties that are normally hurled about for their delectation during this parade.

Back at the finca, the rain has flushed out from the fields a gazillion snails that escape the waterlogged mud to gather on the camino. This makes driving along the camino at such times a decidedly crunchy experience, what with the slowly-advancing army of the snails themselves coupled with the hordes of Bullas gente who also gather in the camino and can commonly be seen stooping low to collect sackloads of the poor gastropods for the old paella.

The rain, while saving us considerable time (and cost) by negating the need to water the crops and the garden every day, has on the other hand made it difficult to get any work done outside while John has been here. We are in the throes of erecting a wooden pergola on the patio at the front of the house, in the hopes that we will have created some much-needed shade there come the uninterrupted summer sun. This pergola is to be built along the same lines as the porch, with railway sleepers forming the pillars, and large-section timbers for the beams.

The sleepers, laden with tar already, have been lying outside (in the rain) for some months now, and so have become sodden. This has made them even more ridiculously heavy than they already were. John, a firefighter, is quite capable of lifting heavy and awkward weights – a mere 5’8″, he is nonetheless a powerhouse and doesn’t flinch when hoisting a 20st man on his shoulder and descending a ladder with him. But even he found himself heaving and straining and turning purple to manhandle these sleepers into position, and I didn’t have a hope in hell of budging them.

We managed, though, mainly through John’s efforts, to place them correctly, albeit prone. Also to notch them all appropriately so that they are ready for the fitting-together stage of the main frame, which we hope can be carried out when John’s out next (weather permitting, of course). I don’t even want to think about the effort that is going to be involved in lifting them into the upright position and holding them steady until they are braced, but hey! No gain without pain, as they say. “They” being sadists, I expect.

I do glance out each morning to check, but alas thus far we haven’t been visited by the pergola fairies.

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