During a break in the rain this afternoon, I went for a brief walk. The whole thing only took me about 40 minutes, and I met and spoke to three guys. The first, walking a small dog along the road down by the river, simply wished me good afternoon. Then I turned off the road onto a trail up between the olive groves and towards the pine woods.
There I met a neighbour whose first reaction was, “¿No tienes miedo de caminar por aquí?” I said no, I wasn’t afraid, and he hastened to assure me there were lots of jabalíes in the area; he definitely seemed concerned when I didn’t pale at the thought of bumping in to a wild boar in the middle of the afternoon half a mile from my own back yard.
He also told me that the path I was on was his – made by him and his neighbours – and that although a single walker would probably do no damage, he was fed up with the lads on their motorbikes.
In Spanish, bicicleta is a feminine noun, and so is the motorised version: una moto. Of course, there’s no difference in sound between that and un amoto, and even among Spaniards there’s an inclination to think that the “o” ending indicates a masculine word. So my neighbour, an elderly peasant – and I use the word advisedly – complained bitterly about los amotos that destroy the track he and other land owners have made to reach their fincas and olivares.
Although he told me I wouldn’t find a route through to the road above our house, I decided to walk on, up beyond the uncultivated plots and in under the pine trees.
A bit farther on, a chained dog challenged me and I would have turned back if another elderly chap hadn’t come out to see who was trying to cross his land. There must have been around ten cross-bred galgos chained or shut in the shack – it’s no wonder I hear so many dogs barking all day long – all complaining that I was trespassing. The guy was quite civil, though, and when I told him where I was trying to get to, he walked with me to show me the path I should take.
He, too, asked me what I was doing there on my own and I laughed and said I was a neighbour and didn’t feel worried about being a stone’s throw from my own house, even though Tito had just told me to beware of boars. He told me that the dogs were perros de caza for hunting jabalíes, but that boars won’t normally harm a person unless they are threatened or wounded.
I always tell people that we live in rural Spain, but in fact I know that el pueblo has all the mod cons and facilities of a small town. It’s odd then, to discover that just fifteen minutes from the house, I am apparently in the wilds of Iberia where I am liable to be attacked by wild animals, and where motorbikes are such a novelty that the natives don’t know the correct word for them.