Tales of the Lecrin Valley

A personal view of life in an andalusian village.

Last week we had a service in the church in front of the office which was  a sober reminder that Spain is a new democracy and the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship ended not too long ago.  A crowd began to form and three hearses arrived, each with five or six small coffins aboard.  These coffins measured about three feet by one and contained the remains, now just bones, of a group of men believed to be from Malaga.  They had been driven from there to our village where they had been executed and buried in Antonio’s huerto behind the church.  No-one knows who they were or what their allegiance, although it is assumed they were Republicans.  I took a few photos but in my desire not to be intrusive didn´t focus too well.  But I am sure you will get the essence of this sad affair.  No military funeral with bugles and flags, pomp and circumstance, just a group of inquisitive villagers, some of the older ones almost certainly thinking, “There but for the grace of God, go I,” or as is the case after so many civil wars, “What was that all about?”  Thank goodness that most young Spaniards just can´t imagine how it could have happened and refuse to believe that it could happen again.  Let’s hope they are proved right and this great young democracy continues to grow at the astonishing rate that it has over the last thirty-five years, and that it suffers no more internal (or external) strife.

Civil war burial ceremony

Civil war burial ceremony

Civil war burial ceremony

Civil war burial ceremony

Civil war burial ceremony

Civil war burial ceremony

After a few thousand kilometres of driving back and forth across Morocco using Rabat as a base, we are back in the saddle in Melegis.  Diesel at 67cents a litre made the driving a bit more palateable, but the roads soon negated that, except the motorways which are not too bad.  But they have no barriers and people seem to delight in picnicking on the central reservation and popping across the two lanes to collect something on the hard shoulder.  Exciting stuff.  The cost of the tolls was nothing, 7 euros for 200 kilometres.  And there were surprisingly few cars with dents and scratches, unlike here in Spain.  This is probably because everyone drives without concern for anyone else and people have to concentrate, use all their mirrors and expect the unexpected, which makes for exciting if not safe motoring.  Rabat is very cosmopolitan and like many colonial towns.  Food was cheap, especially if the classy restaurants were avoided, and we had some lovely meals for about a fiver a head.  Even the best restaurants were 30 per cent cheaper than in Europe.  The Police like to flex their muscles, but if you are subservient enough and roll over and ask for your tummy to be stroked, they are fine.  As soon as they knew I was English they told me that their sister town of Sale, just across the river, was plundered many times by English pirates, (about three hunderd years ago) and they haven´t forgotten.  The suq was the same as any other suq except for a bit of a scrap one day between two of the stall holders which is unusual in Muslim countries.  That apart, we made a lot of friends and contacts, especially in the legal profession and with judges, and had a productive time.  Below are a couple of photos of Rabat river and a nice queue outside one of the Government departments.  Women on the right, men on the left, Englishmen can wander around  and will be called when their turn comes as they are far too used to orderly queueing to be allowed to get involved in a Moroccan free-for-all.  Carmen had to queue as she was a  woman, but she was eleventh in line as opposed to my twenty-eighth, so I handed all the papers to her and met her later.  She told me that she had made a lot of friends in the queue and as one spoke Spanish and one spoke Italian, she kept the women amused for the two hours she was queueing. Evidently she had seven civil servants stamping her papers at the same time when she eventually got inside.  As these queues are to be found in front of every Government Department every morning and last for hours, I was trying to get a Moroccan lad to come in with me to start a little business with a stall selling sandwiches and coffee in front of every office.  I would put up for the equipment and he would find the staff and make the food and drink and we would split the profits.  But as he was earning 800 euros on the dole in Spain he wasn’t interested.

Rabat river with Rabat in background

Rabat river with Rabat in background

Rabat ferry to Sale
Rabat ferry to Sale

Women on the right, men on the left
Women on the right, men on the left