Friday, December 27, 2019

White Rabbits

We are in that small space between Christmas and New Year (complicated slightly by the Spanish who insist on celebrating the Twelfth Night followed by school the following morning). We must face the disappointment of not winning a farthing on the Christmas lottery last week, together with the gloomy certainty that we also won't win anything on El Niño (drawn on January 5th), with a sense of inevitability, especially when we are repeatedly shown on the TV the people who won vast sums on their chosen numbers waving uncorked bottles of cava and looking just like the people did on the TV last time around. God, they are so undeserving.
I haven't enjoyed Christmas much this time to be frank, possibly because I was tricked by the calender hanging next to the computer (turns out it's from 2018) and so I missed the first day of December, and in consequence, my customary shout of White Rabbits, which brings - as readers will know - guaranteed perfect luck for the entire month.
And horrid misfortune if you forget.
My wife Alicia broke her leg on the first day, and has been in bed ever since. The national health, usually so good in Spain, was not up to scratch, and she had to wait ten days in hospital before she had an operation. So, she is running (a poor choice of word) ten days late on her recovery. I reckon it'll be San Valentín before she can get on her feet for rehabilitation and horseback riding both.
Amongst other disagreeable tasks, I have been obliged to take over the cooking.
This involves me receiving instruction called from the front room - Alicia is in the sitting-room supine on the couch - as I clumsily break eggs and stir the rice. Our diet has never been so varied.
The horses need attention as well: straw, oats, grain and so on, plus the shit duly shovelled. I have help for this, so don't have to get too down and dirty. Just an artful smear of poop on my cheek, and maybe a wet trouser-leg for effect.
I had asked for a small pension from the indulgent Spanish government back in February, but, as 'things from the palace move slowly' (a local axiom), I still haven't taken my seat on the gravy train a mere ten months later. In short, fourteen years of running The Entertainer (the precursor of The EWN) between one thing and another hasn't paid at all well.
Other misfortunes... well there were a few, but nothing which will survive into the early moments of January, when I shall be found standing on the roof, bellowing White Rabbits at the startled neighbours!

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Pirates off Macenas

A 'londro' - the kind of merchantman that appears in this story
In the middle of the 18th century, the Catalonian merchantman “San Raimundo”, was heading for Cádiz loaded with wine. She had been anchored off Águilas (Murcia), waiting for better weather. On January 22, 1741 she set sail and soon after, a Moorish vessel was seen to be in pursuit. Trying to flee from her pursuers, she headed for land, running aground on the beach near Mojácar's Macenas tower. The patron Domingo Benapres and the crew jumped to the sand: "without time to save anything other than myself and those of the six men and the cabin-boy, three rifles, a life-boat, five oars, the two anchors and some bedding".
The Moorish pirates managed to re-float the ship and took it with the cargo of wine included; but for some reason, they left one of their fellow-pirates behind on the beach.
The following morning, the Mojácar troop, which had come out after being informed of the presence of pirates, found the Moor, seizing him, and shortly afterwards, they also located the eight Catalonian sailors.
Following the strict orders of the time to avoid the costs of contagion of plague and other contagious diseases, they began a curious caravan towards Vera, which Diego Soler, one of the soldiers of the cavalry troop, recounted: “From the Rambla de Macenas, the Company of Mojácar escorted the Moor to Vera by foot in this way: at the distance of a rifle shot, while a single soldier went before to show him the way. Following the Moor at a similar distance went the eight sailors, and finally the troop with their weapons, without allowing any mixing the one with the other, as had been ordered by their captain despite knowing that none of the sailors or the troop had been at any time close to the Moor”.
The military commander in Vera threw his hands to his head when he saw the caravan arrive and ordered them to return at once to the place of the encounter, to pass quarantine there.
Luckily, the patron of the merchantman was able to justify the evident state of health of his sailors, and, sending word to the warden of the fortress in Águilas, the quarantine order was lifted and the crew were given permission to return on the first ship that could take them back towards Catalonia. As for the Moor, he would have to suffer his quarantine and, following that, be judged for piracy.

From an article in Almería Hoy by Mario Sanz Cruz.