Goodbye sand and suffocating heat. Goodbye political protests, shootings and constant helicopter activity above. Sadly, goodbye to our friends, too. To be honest, we’d grown fond of Bahrain and leaving it was harder than we thought it would be. I clearly remember our last day in Bahrain two weeks ago.
UPS came and collected our boxes for shipping, we handed in our apartment keys, and Ahmed the taxi driver drove us to the airport. We passed two military checkpoints, but, being Westerners, were waved through. We passed the Pearl Roundabout, scene of the terrible shootings last February and stared at the new highway intersection. Back in February, the Pearl Monument had stood there proudly, the most famous statue in Bahrain. Then the Shi’ite protesters camped under its giant shadow until government forces fired on them whilst they slept. Shortly after, the government demolished the monument, saying it had been ‘defiled’ by the protesters, and laid down a new highway intersection in its place.For a year we lived in the lap of luxury in Bahrain; our apartment was huge and brand new. But now we’ve returned home, back to our crazy little mountain village in southern Spain. When we unlocked the front door after a year away, the smell of damp assailed us. Spiders had worked unhindered, decorating every corner with cobwebs. Dead beetles lay on their backs on the floor, and the dust was deep and undisturbed. Both the TV and dishwasher refused to work. Our Spanish mobile phones had been de-activated and the car had a flat battery. In spite of our next door neighbour’s care, only one of our elderly chickens remained, and weeds reigned in the garden.
But would we exchange our ancient crumbling village house with the flashy apartment we had in Bahrain? Not a chance! Spiders, dust, damp and dead beetles are easily removed. All the other stuff is fixed now, too, and we can enjoy the birdsong, the greenery and lack of helicopters above. I can wear sleeveless tops to keep cool without offending Muslims, and not worry if I offer somebody something with my left hand.
There may be no helicopters here, but it’s certainly not quiet in our village. Dogs bark, our neighbours strum flamenco guitars in the street, the colourful bee-eaters trill and bicker, cicadas chirrup, and the churchbells clamour every hour. But these sounds delight us; Joe and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Er, perhaps there is one small thing we might change – shipping companies. Remember those two big boxes being shipped from Bahrain to Spain? Well, they still haven’t arrived. Apparently they’re stuck in a depot somewhere awaiting customs clearance. Hey-ho, never mind…
Do join me on Facebook to find out how we’re coping, day to day.
My recipe of the month – Mackerel Stuffed Tomatoes
(Recipe courtesy of www.OrceSerranoHams.com)
Stuffed tomatoes are a favourite in Andalucia either cold or baked with a drizzle of olive oil. This recipe calls for a browned manchego cheese topping, with the tomatoes themselves being stuffed with a combination of mackerel fillets, diced onion, basil and pepper. Great Spanish tapas for the summer that add both flavour and colour to the table.
You will need:
12 large vine tomatoes
200g mackerel fillets (tinned)
1 small onion, diced
2 basil leaves, finely chopped
75g Manchego cheese, grated
• Pre heat your oven to 180°C.
• Take each tomato and cut a thin slice from the bottom so that they stand flat.
• Slice off the tops of the tomato and carefully hollow out each one, creating a cavity. Retain the tomato seeds but discard the core.
• Place the tomato seeds in a bowl along with the mackerel fillets, diced onion, basil and pepper, mash up and mix well.
• Stuff each tomato with the mixture.
• Place a good pinch of grated manchego on top of each tomato.
• Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the manchego cheese begins to bubble and turn brown.
• Serve with salad and a good drizzle of olive oil.
“a charming and funny expat tale” The Telegraph (UK)
“Weeks later you will be doing the dishes and recall some fleeting scene with chickens or mules or two old fools and laugh out loud all over again.” The Catalunya Chronicle