Bonding over the logs
Today we have had a bit of a breakthrough! We have engaged with the villagers!!
The children are arriving tomorrow, so it was agreed that I would do the Carrefour trip while Andrew stayed at home and worked. As the Spanish festivities tend to only kick off once Christmas Day is out of the way, Carrefour was hellish, but that’s another story….
Our first load of logs had all but gone this week, as we have been using the open fire as our main source of heat in the house, and as it seems to be getting colder and colder with each passing night, so our log consumption has increased. I have been trying to catch the eye of a passing neighbour all week to ask ‘¿sabe usted de donde puedo comprar la leña?’, to no avail. So, as I was leaving the house this morning for my 3 hour food shopping trip, I mentioned to Andrew that he might like to find a neighbour and ask the question.
Sure enough, whilst I was fighting my way through the snack aisle, I got a text from Andrew saying that he had spoken to the neighbours and logs were being sorted for 3pm and could I get cash out….but no idea how much.
Evidently, Andrew had chatted to our immediate neighbour, Visi (short for Visitación) and asked where we might buy our next load of logs, upon which Visi marched off, beckoning Andrew to follow, whereupon she knocked, determinedly, on the door of a house on the other side of the square. The lady of that house appeared at an upper floor window, looking as though she might just have woken up, and there was an exchange of words, a time was agreed and the job, seemingly, was done.
Sure enough, after I had arrived home, Visi and the man of the house across the square came to size up the job: €100 for a store full and €200 for twice as much (makes sense). We agreed on the €100 batch and they were to be delivered at 4pm.
Francisco, as this is the name of the log-man-neighbour, duly pitched up at 4pm with a motorised caterpillar-tracked cart piled with logs, and accompanied by his young daughter. Visi and her husband (whose name we have not yet quite caught!) came to supervise. Andrew and I learned, in one of our online Spanish lessons, that the Spanish absolutely love to give advice. Francisco is a fit 30-something chap clearly used to hauling heavy objects around. Visi’s husband must be in his late 60s, but he was extremely keen to impart his knowledge on size of logs, how to wield an axe, where to wield it, how not to hit a beam with said axe, and so on, with barely a pause for breath. We managed to discuss wood, the make-up of the neighbouring houses, the cost of heating - well, I say we discussed; Visi’s husband chatted and I nodded sagely, saying ‘Si’ as often as I felt it to be appropriate. But, the three of us, Francisco, Visi’s husband and I happily stacked logs, aided by Francisco’s daughter, from whom we should probably learn Spanish!
In the middle of our log stacking, one of the other neighbours popped her head into the patio, as neighbours are wont to do in these parts. Her name is Isabel, and I learned that Francisco makes beehives and delivers them all over Spain, and Isabel has one of these hives and creates honey. At least I think that is what was said, but it could have been something else totally…..It doesn’t matter. We know some of the neighbours by name, and when we next run out of logs we will be knocking on Francisco’s door. We have already decided to buy Visi a little box of something chocolatey for New Year, and may even pluck up the courage to invite them round for a drink to celebrate Los Reyes Magos. The ice has been broken and that is what matters. I can see Andrew and I, as the weather starts to warm up a little, out in the square as the delivery vans come to do their rounds, catching up with all the neighbours, chewing the cud and offering our own advice to all and sundry….