Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pepe and the drowning boy.

The skies are full of planes once again. But not the sky above our village. It's strictly a flight path for birds, and always has been. Thanks to the incessant rain we've had during our very long winter, the wild flowers are now beginning to shoot through the soggy soil and cover the hillside with shimmering blankets of yellow and scarlet. Scarlet being the poppies.

Annie, my last retreat guest, soon to be married, joined the thousands of stranded passengers at Malaga airport last Friday, and turned her delay into a wonderful adventure. She said shelter,food,and communication with loved ones quickly became her priority. Her blackberry, and a brave sense of exploring the completely unknown served her well. Having been told it would be a week before she could fly back to London, she moved to Madrid where she fell in love with the Spanish way of life. We exchanged many texts. However, she very was disappointed to find that in the cathedral, they had no real candles for people to light. Just a money box which when fed, lit up electric ones. For somebody who works in an ancient English cathedral, this was a real disappointment. I had asked her to light a candle for our Miguel. I'm a little worried about his health. He's our 60 year old bachelor- goatherd, born and bred in the village. A few days ago as I drove home, he appeared on the crest of the ridge above the village. His six shy goats instantly shot down the ravine when they realized my car was stopping. Miguel had the bloodiest nose I've ever seen in years. He looked like an extra in a horror movie. But were were the rest of the cast? What had happened?
'I'm fine,' he said, smiling as always. 'Don't worry about it, the bleedings stopped.'


After my weekend adventure to Madrid to see Cirque Eloise, I've been asking myself the question, Why write a blog.?
I'm not traveling around South America any more, so why am I doing this?
Who's interested ?
The first and only blog site I've followed was called Open Veins: Life, Politics, and Friendships in Bolivia. I loved it. I would read more blogs, but my very slow dial up connection to the Internet doesn't allow this. The writer of Open Viens was a young journalist called Nick Buxton. My interest in Bolivia had just been torched by finding out about the work of Ivan Nogles in El Alto , the 'slum city' above la Paz. The extraordianry story of Ivan adopting seven boys from a boys prison (where he'd been working as a weekly prison visitor/teacher of circus skills ) had set my heart on fire with admiration. Nick's blogsite then filled me with the background information of this fascinating but wildly unstable country. I wanted to visit Bolivia, but couldn't quite muster up the courage. I was convinced I'd die of altitude sickness there. Nick's posts came to an end after he found love,and finally moved to California where his partner would give birth to their child. I didn't want them to leave Bolivia! I wanted to experience more of this extraordinary country though his eyes.

I'm continuing to write my blogsite because in telling Annie the story of Pepe and the drowning boy, I realized the importance of 'sitting under the tree' telling stories. Stories that touch the heart. As a grandmother now, I feel I can sit under my tree (my laptop!) and share some of the beauty and mystery of what I see, and have seen in the world . I'm giving myself permission. And if you experience a fraction of the pleasure I got from readings Nicks blog, great.

Pepe and the Drowning boy.
A true local story

It was New Years day, the year 2000. Spain. The scene, a small hamlet and hour south east of Granada.
Pepe, a farmer, was then about 70. The boy around 17. Pepe lived in a hamlet by a river, a beauitful place, but a place with dark secrets of the civil war. Pepe knew most of these secrets. He was and had always been a kind and a brave man. The boy arrived to drown himself having taken handfuls of drugs (for the first time) at a party the night before. He arrived with a friend who attempted , but wasn't able to pull him out of the water. Pepe took over. The friend was dispatched to tell the parents the boy was found. Pepe hauled the teenager into his field and sat him down under the old olive tree.
" Cigarette?" he asked the boy.
They sat together drenched to the skin, smoking silently for quite a while.
" You know," said Pepe, "if you ever want to talk about anything, anything at all, we can sit together under this tree. You'll know where to find me."

There are time when words aren't necessary, and times when they are. Grandfather Pepe knew the difference. His death last year left a huge hole in many of our hearts.
Thanks to Pepe, I learnd many things when I lived in his hamlet. The main one being: being part of each others stories, even a very small part, is what makes us matter to each other. Even if we start as complete strangers, we can soon become allies. My retreat guests and Miguel the kind goat herd teach me this constantly.