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Spanish Secrets: A Mason's Secret

Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie meet Angel the stonemason – and are shocked into silence when they see his astonishing creation.

To read more of Craig’s sparkling columns about life in Galicia please click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

It was a huge relief to finally reach an agreement with our neighbour Maruja. She’d agreed, albeit verbally, to sell us a narrow strip of land which would allow us to widen our driveway. It would then be possible to have building materials delivered close to the house. This meant a large saving on labour costs for the proposed renovation of our romantic rural holiday retreat.

With that problem solved we could set about tackling some of the others. The following morning we were back in the village. We’d arranged to meet a man who would quote for drilling the water-well, our third quote so far. After another unimpressive theatrical performance with divining rods, we were given an equally unimpressive drilling price. We thanked him for his time and then went in search of Pablo.

Agreeing to buy the land from Maruja left us with another problem. We needed to find a stonemason who could build the new boundary wall in less than 11 working days. Failure to do this might lead to a 12 month delay. Maruja and her husband were returning to their home in Barcelona on the 11th of September. She’d insisted that the work be completed before they left. If not, we would have to wait for their return - next August. Time was of the essence.

We decided to ask Pablo if he could steer us in the right direction. Once again he came up trumps.

“I know a man. Angel. He is doing some work in the village. Maybe he can give you a price? You must always get a price first. Would you like me to call him”?

Our response was instant. “Yes please!’’

After several failed phone calls he decided that it would be just as quick to drive to Angel’s home and ask him personally.

The short route took us along narrow leafy lanes, shaded in part by tall chestnut trees. Before long we were pulling off the lane and into an unmade track. Large, iron gates halted our progress a short way down the track. Two ferocious looking hounds barked our arrival. Despite this, Pablo insisted on ringing the weathered, brass bell securely attached to a sturdy looking gatepost.

Seconds later a small figure appeared at the far end of the track and ambled slowly towards us. He was a short, thin man with a deep tan and leathery skin. He looked like he could do with a good wash and shave, and a comb run through his wiry, greying hair. His clothes were old and tatty and his spectacles scratched and fingered.

Pablo announced him as Angel. We exchanged friendly greetings after which Pablo explained our plight. Despite his appearance he was a very pleasant man and agreed to meet us at the house tomorrow to give us a price for rebuilding the wall. Before leaving Angel asked if we would like to look at his pride and joy. Curious as to what this might be and not wanting to upset his feelings, we agreed.

He marched off down the lane with Pablo, Melanie and me in hot pursuit. After turning a corner at the end of his garden, he stopped and pointed. We were rooted to the floor in shocked amazement; wide eyed and open mouthed. It was incredible, enormous, unique and insanely crazy.

Mounted on a concrete plinth and cordoned-off on all sides by a length of chain strong enough to anchor the Queen Mary, was a rock. A naturally-formed, tear-drop shaped boulder standing three meters tall. We were all speechless. Why on earth would anyone haul a lump of rock, the size of a family car into their back garden and mount it on a concrete pedestal?

Whatever the reason, Angel seemed extremely proud of his unusual creation.

Tongue in cheek, we complemented him on the enormity of his artistic vision. It seemed the diplomatic thing to do.

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craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2007 Craig Briggs

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