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Spanish Secrets: All's Well That Ends Well

Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie are woken from their slumbers to solve a neighbour's water crisis.

To read more of Craig's wonderfully evocative articles about life in the depths of rural Galicia click on Spanish Secrets in he menu on this page.

A shrill clangour echoed through the darkness of our early morning slumber. Startled and fuddled, Melanie lifted the receiver on our bedside telephone. In a dry and throaty voice she offered an instinctive welcoming response.

The party responsible for our disrupted dozing was our good friend Mitty. She and her husband Rajan, own a holiday home in the hills above Monforte de Lemos. It’s a refreshing and relaxing contrast to their lives in California. In a mild state of panic she quickly explained that they’d risen that morning and discovered their water had been cut off.

It’s quite a common problem in small villages and hamlets, particularly at the end of a long dry summer. However, this was their first experience of such an event. We calmed Mitty’s fears and promised to investigate. Surely someone would know the cause?

Within half an hour we were heading for the town hall in Ferreira. We didn’t hold out much hope of gathering any information, after all it was Saturday, but at least it was worth a try. As expected the building was closed and the notice board empty. Perhaps one of their neighbours might have some answers? Without delay we headed off towards Mitty’s where we could ask someone in the village.

Within minutes we were pulling up outside the charming farmhouse of Manola and Eva, Mitty’s closest neighbours. The large wrought-iron gates guarding their courtyard were open. Just inside their two dogs were basking in the warmth of the morning sun. We rang the bell and entered.

From an open barn door across the courtyard Eva appeared out of the darkness. Sleeves rolled up and hands apart, the long, sharp blade of the carving knife she was holding glinted in the bright sunlight. Splatters of blood dripped from her hands and the knife as she approached.

“Look at me” she beamed through a welcoming smile. “I’m just killing a few chickens.”

Through the open doorway behind her, two pairs of upturned chicken feet pointed skyward from inside two plastic buckets.

We enquired about the water but Eva knew nothing. After this we continued the short walk along the lane to Mitty and Rajan’s country retreat. In their courtyard was Manuel the builder, busily working to complete some overdue renovations. As we greeted him Mitty appeared at the door.

She explained how their neighbours had come to their assistance. Although Mitty and Rajan’s water supply came from the council, one of their neighbours knew of an old well on the property that had once supplied the house. With the help of Manuel the builder, they’d broken into the locked pump house and tested the pump. Although broken, all they needed to repair it was an inexpensive electrical component. Rajan and his neighbour Manola had driven into town to buy the required part.

Mitty had barely finished explaining when Rajan and Manola returned. They’d managed to located and buy the necessary bit for the aging pump. Before long Manuel had reassembled it and water was once again restored to the house.

We never did find out why the water had been cut-off but as the saying goes - all’s well that end’s well.

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craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs

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