2003: “It’s our 26th wedding anniversary.
“What would you like: flowers, chocolates, jewellery?”
“How about we buy a house in Spain,” he said.
I humour him by going out for a drive into the ‘pueblos blancos’ of Andalucia.
2027: In the village house, we’ll be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.
A PRESENT FOR THE FUTURE?
In August 2003, I visited Spain for the first time.
Husband Kevin had already been to the country on several occasions – to the Michelin test track in Almeria, and to the company’s manufacturing plant in Vitoria – and was enamoured. I had a yearning to live in France (I spent family holidays there throughout my teenage years, and can at least speak the language), but his comment was: “I’ve worked for them for 33 years; I don’t want to live amongst them, too.”
On the 20th of August, we followed the Michelin ‘Green Guide’ of “What to do if you have eight hours for sightseeing.” The guide suggested driving from San Pedro de Alcantara to Ronda, having lunch at the Don Miguel hotel/restaurant there (overlooking the gorge), proceeding on to Casares to see ‘the most photographed village in Spain’, and driving back to San Pedro via Estepona … eight hours.
We duly arrived in Ronda at 11:00 a.m. – after winding our way up the ‘road-of-365-bends’ (one for each day of the year). We looked at the view from the ‘new bridge’; after oohing and aahing (and my peeing my pants … since I’m scared of heights), we wandered into the back streets. We discovered a jeweller’s – Sr. Ramirez – where Kevin espied a gold signet ring in the window display. “I’d quite like a new ring,” he said; so we went inside.
After much gesticulation, pointing and hand-waving, we conveyed the message that we wanted to buy a ring. Sr. Ramirez brought out a velvet-covered tray, pulling back the covering to reveal … ladies’ rings!
“Perdon,” he said, trying to cover them up and get the correct tray of men’s rings.
“No, no,” I said. “That’s quite okay.”
Having settled on a delightful emerald and diamond ring for myself, we managed to organise a gold signet ring for Kevin. Gesticulations and arm-waving ensued. It seemed the rings (both of which needed re-sizing, and Kevin was getting his engraved, too) would be ready at about 12:30.
“Not possible,” we said. “We have a lunch reservation at Don Miguel at 12:30.”
(OK, it wasn’t as fluent as that, but we got the point across!)
“Don Miguel?!” said Sr. Ramirez. “Bah!” (or the Spanish equivalent thereof). “You should go to Escuderos.”
So he drew us a delightful map, showing us how to get to ‘Escuderos’ (behind the Bull Ring), where we had an incredible 5-course ‘gourmet’ lunch, finally swallowing the last of the wine and dessert at 2:30 … at which time nothing in Ronda is open – certainly not Sr. Ramirez, who had our rings!
So, did we follow the Green Guide instructions to proceed to Casares? Not likely. We wandered around the town and found a Real Estate Agent’s office, featuring pictures (in its window) of houses from 45,000 Euros.
The agent (Helena) was lovely. She recommended that, within our budget, we should look at the villages of Benoajan and Montejaque … which we duly did, having nothing better to do that afternoon until the shops opened again at 5:00.
We visited the village of Benoajan first … about 11 km. out of Ronda. We managed to find the town square, and had a cerveza (beer) in the only bar open. Pretty, but not impressive.
We then drove on for two kilometres to the village of Montejaque; as we rounded the bend, we both said, “This is more like it!”
In the town square, we enjoyed more cerveza under the trees, and decided that this was the village where we might buy a house.
Back to Ronda to tell Helena that we had decided on Montejaque.
“I thought you might,” she said. “Come back tomorrow and I’ll take you around the properties that are available there.”
We eventually collected our rings from Sr. Ramirez and went back down the road-with-365-bends to San Pedro de Alcantara.
Casares would have to wait …