AS I settle down for my first ever Christmas in Germany, I am reminded of a fascinating situation in Montejaque two years ago.
I was spending my first Christmas in Montejaque, staying with my German girlfriend (now my wife) and her two sons, who were also visiting for the festive period. One night, when we went out for a few drinks, we got a proper linguistic shock!
When we went out one evening for a few drinks in the village, we were astonished to end up in a bar in the village square where everyone present could speak German!
As we arrived in the bar talking together in German the landlady greeted us in fluent German. Anita, born and brought up in Knittlingen, south Germany, the daughter of emigrants from Montejaque, had met her husband, Antonio, also of Montejaque stock, in the Swabian town. They married and had two sons before eventually returning “home” to run the Bar El Rincón in the village square. Antonio worked in a factory in Knittlingen, so spoke factory German, while their sons, Diego and Antonio, are, of course, bi-lingual, having been born and educated there.
Suddenly, up piped a little old lady who had overheard us: “Ich sprechen Deutsch. Ich Putzfrau Knittlingen. Mein Sohn sprechen Deutsch auch. Er kommen jetzt. Er arbeiten an der Küste. Er sprechen gut Deutsch.” This lady, María, had been a cleaner in Knittlingen for many years. Her German wasn’t very good, bless her, but at least she could communicate. She’d told us that her son, who was due to arrive shortly from his job on the coast, also spoke German.
With that, in breezed Juan, and we quickly struck up a conversation in German. Unlike his mother his German was perfect – in fact, we were told later, it’s better than his Spanish. Well, he was born, brought up and educated there, so that’s understandable.
As the evening wore on our conversation became more fluid as the beer flowed. There we were: six Spaniards, two Germans, and an Englishman in a tiny bar in a small village in the mountains of Andalucía, all speaking German together. Something I will never forget. Fascinating!
¡Feliz Navidad! Frohe Weihnachten!
In the 1960s several hundred inhabitants of Montejaque and neighbouring village Benaoján emigrated to Germany in search of work. Many went to the town of Knittlingen near Stuttgart to work in the factories there as Gastarbeiter. Many have since returned to their home villages with their families, giving rise to the surprisingly high number of German speakers in this part of the Serranía de Ronda.
The strong links between the three villages developed into an official partnership which was officially signed and sealed in 2010.