I look at the clock It’s 1pm, and five minutes later than I last looked. I’m ready to go. Well, I say ready – I’m physically ready. I’m washed, dressed and I have some wine and homemade biscuits to take with me. I look at the clock again jeez what do you expect it to do? Start waving it’s arms??
I mentally revise some Spanish vocabulary. I desperately need to improve my Spanish, yet the thought of sitting and eating with a load of people who I don’t really know and who can’t speak any English is daunting. The situation would be daunting enough with strangers using the same mother tongue. I look at the clock once more, yes this is uncomfortable but very necessary. It’s not possible to attempt to learn a language without having someone to speak with and its not possible to be fluent overnight or speak without making some mistakes…naturally I’m going to get laughed at. Just get over it I say to myself.
The cultural difference in time keeping is astounding. My culture suggests 1pm is 1pm on the nail, the dot – as the clock strikes the hour.
1pm in Spain is sometime after 1pm but not before. At 25 past the hour the squeaking and groaning of the white van’s suspension can be heard in protestation at the uneven surface of the forestry road.
Sergio emerges with arms wide and lips pursed in anticipation of yet more kisses! I dutifully submit my cheeks to the onslaught of puckered lips and return them in what I hope is enthusiasm
Sergio opens the van door and before I can even attempt the climb up into the seat he lifts me and swings me in. I’m surprised by his strength, I’m no lightweight even though I’m slim. I look at my boyfriends face surveying for annoyance – there’s none, only a look of amusement….instead he openly wonders how to ask if Sergio’s back is still intact The cheek! Digging him in the ribs I try to translate the open thought as best as I can – the ice is broken as Sergio laughs heartily and then admits I’m heavier than I look.
In excusing my lack of feather weight qualities I explain I am quite fit and actively participate in lots of gym activities…the result a slimmish frame considering how much food I eat but yet I am often a good 14 pounds heavier than someone else who is roughly the same size but not as active.
Sergio begins to admit his love of yoga, the countryside and meditation. Great! I’ve found another closet hippie – Basking in my inner thoughts and sheer joy of finding a like minded person so soon in the village I’ve failed to realise we’ve arrived.
Rushing to climb out of the van to avoid potentially being carried over the threshold we’re greeted by several people all smiling arms braced for hugs and lips ready Am I ever going to get used to all this kissing? Do I want to get used to it? Yes…yes I do.
After yet another round of kissing and hugging the formal introductions take place. Julia is around 17 with beautiful skin and hair, her parents, Nella and Roberto plus two friends and their two year old daughter.
I wonder to myself if Sergio has a wife and family of his own. As if mentally connected to my thoughts yet again! How weird.. he answers my unspoken question while passing me an absolutely HUGE glass of red wine and directing me to the tapas on the table. There is one there is one thing the Spanish do not do… They do not drink without eating something! Even if that something is a plate of nuts, a small plate of crisps or some bread and cheese. I try to move a chair to sit down. It’s huge! I need two arms just to pull it out enough to sit down. What is it with grow me potion Alice in Wonderland stuff here?
I finally hear that Sergio has a daughter and a wife…..who visit occasionally. Occasionally??? I check to make sure I’m understanding what’s being said. Yes occasionally.
She lives in the centre of the city with their daughter. She hates the countryside and prefers the convenience of all the city’s offerings. He elaborates further by telling me he’s a furniture maker and he has a small factory close to the city…he drops in on her from time to time. In my mind I think this is a weird situation but hey…who am I to pass judgement!
I look at all the furniture it is really beautiful. He tells me he made it all, including the table and really heavy chairs. Then he offers to give me a guided tour of the house. It has four big bedrooms – complete with matching furniture that he has made, it is simply stunning! All the windows complete with shutters and matching internal and external doors are all made by his hands. I look at his hands, I can’t help it. They look really smooth and well cared for. We enter another room off the living room. It’s his meditation room complete with massage table. He waves his hands in front of me and tells me their not just good for carpentry and joinery…he can give me a massage if I want one…and, not just any old massage but a proper sports massage.
Under normal circumstances I would find a complete stranger lifting me into a van, driving me off for dinner and then offering to massage me quite creepy! I would probably run for the hills at lightening speed and never return. Yet I look at this man before me oozing such respect, friendship and integrity and I know he isn’t displaying any sexual undertones or connotations to his offer. I find myself trusting him instantly and then dreaming of my poor battered Achilles tendon receiving some much needed care and attention.
A shout interrupts our conversation, everyone is outside sitting in the sun‘s winter rays. I’m directed outside towards the voices for a continuation of the tour. Rows and rows of vegetables are beautifully tendered. Including the very expensive Saffron spice. Chickens cluck contentedly in the distance as I survey for melons. Is Sergio the melon man? I desperately need to know.
I ask him directly –
“do you grow melon’s?”
“Sometimes” he replies
“but I prefer to grow saffron as I sell it at the local market along with my eggs and honey”
I sigh. In my own heart of hearts I know that he isn’t the ‘melon man’.
“Why do you ask?” he replies after seeing my despondency.
“No reason” I reply.
I’ve made my first Spanish friend. The Melon Man will have to wait.