Most of these seasonal visitors originate from within Spain and many are either Barcelonés, (the collective name for residents of Barcelona) or Madrileños the Madrid equivalent. These summer migrants left the area in their youth to find employment in the more prosperous cities of Spain.
Two such summer migrants to our home village, are Mariano and his wife Isa (pronounced Eesa). They live in Madrid and every year escape the stifling heat of the city for the peace, quiet, and
freshness of village life in Galicia.
Mariano told me his age once but at the time it didn’t seem
important and now I can’t remember. If I had to guess I’d say that he’s about 80, give or take a couple of years. He’s a retired banker from an era when banking was a respected profession and an occupation to be proud of.
When we first moved into our new home, Mariano was the first man from the village to really speak to me. I’m not saying that everyone else wasn’t courteous and polite; on the contrary, we were welcomed from the start. However; many villagers were reticent to attempt meaningful interaction with me, the strange and unusual Englishman. I suppose being suspicious and cautious is human nature.
Mariano on the other hand lived in Madrid, a thriving metropolis and cultural melting pot. For him, I was a person of interest: a man to be questioned.
His examination began lightly enough, ‘What are you planting there,’ he asked, pointing at a dry patch of ground I was busy preparing.
This modest question immediately raised my suspicion. I’d become accustomed to statements from the neighbours rather than questions.
‘That’s very good soil for growing vegetables,’ would have seemed a far more familiar remark.
‘I’m going to plant a lawn,’ I replied, fully expecting a brusque rebuttal along the lines of, ‘Only sheep eat
But to my astonishment Mariano responded with another, more investigative enquiry.
‘Why are you raking sand into the ground?’
I explained, ‘It will help with drainage and make the ground harder wearing.’
‘Like a football pitch,’ he replied.
I suspect he knew the answer all along but was keen to test the knowledge of his new English neighbour. Once I’d established my intellectual credentials we went on to discuss more worldly issues.
Ten years on I still look forward to their arrival; and although his health is not what it was, I like nothing more than sitting in the shade, discussing matters of global significance with my friend the Madrileño.