It’s an uncomfortable feeling being without passports. We applied a month ago, and paid a hefty fee to have them delivered by courier. Had we filled out the forms correctly? Were our photographs acceptable? Had the passports got lost in the Christmas mail? Were they destroyed in the terrible floods that the UK suffered recently? Receiving mail has always been a bit of a problem in El Hoyo, as it often arrives on the Fish Van or needs collecting from the Repsol garage at the bottom of the mountain.
One cold, but sunny morning, we heard a commotion in the village.
“What’s going on?” asked Joe.
We could hear shouts, and a large engine revving.
“I’ve no idea,” I said, shaking my head.Curious, we went out into the street to investigate.
El Hoyo’s streets are extremely narrow, and the corners are all sharp right angles. Cars negotiate them with difficulty. Only pedestrians, uncle Felix’s mule and motorcycles sail around the corners with ease.
We turned the street corner, heading for the square and the noise, and saw the problem immediately. A massive yellow lorry was trying to drive up the street, but had failed to turn the corner. It was stuck. The driver had left his cab and was standing beside the truck, scratching his head. Being January, there weren’t many villagers around, but those who were there had congregated around the truck and driver.
Geronimo was gesticulating, pointing this way and that and shouting suggestions over the engine noise. Paco, our neighbour, fired off alternative suggestions, thumping the side of the enormous truck with his fist. Even ancient Marcia had left her shop and was leaning on her walking stick, shaking her head and muttering “madre mia” at regular intervals. Geronimo’s three dogs barked with excitement, while Paco’s new young dog cocked his leg enthusiastically on the truck’s yellow paintwork. Only Uncle Felix stood back, his gnarled hand holding his mule’s rope halter. The mule stood quietly, shuffling her hooves occasionally, bored.
The truck blocked the street entirely; it was going to take a lot of manoeuvring to get out of this jam. The driver climbed back into his cab and Paco, Geronimo and Joe took up their stations, shouting, waving and beckoning at the driver who leant out of the cab window, following their instructions. With much crunching of gears and squealing of brakes, the truck inched forward and back, forward and back, then reversed slowly back to the square.
The driver jumped out, and all the men clapped each other on the back. Success. The truck’s paintwork had only been scraped a little, leaving a telltale yellow stripe on a house wall. It could have been much worse. Geronimo drew a bottle of beer from his pocket and took a celebratory swig.
It was only then that I noticed the writing on the side of the truck. ‘DHL’.
The driver looked at his watch. “Does anyone know señor and señora Twead?” he asked.
All eyes turned to Joe and me.
“That’s us,” I squeaked.
The driver unlocked the enormous gates at the rear of his lorry, climbed in and disappeared into the cavernous depths. He reappeared clutching two small envelopes.
“For you,” he said. “Please sign for them here.”
I took the pen and signed, my face red. A truck the size of a house, and all that fuss to deliver two small envelopes to us?
Back at home, we tore the envelopes open, but we already knew what they were. In spite of Christmas, British floods and El Hoyo’s tight corners, our passports had arrived safely. If rather dramatically…
This month’s Spanish recipe
Tomatoes Stuffed with Herbs
(Tomates rellenos de hierbas)
~ 15 minutes preparation ~
~ 15 minutes cooking ~
There is nothing better than roasted tomatoes and this dish combines sweet, fresh tomato with aromatic herbs. Fantastic!
4 medium tomatoes
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
Salt and pepper
30ml (1 US fl.oz) extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Peel and chop the shallot and place in a blender (or food processor) together with the chopped herbs and olive oil.
3. Blend until the mixture is compact. (If no blender is available, chop the shallot as finely as possible and mix with the other ingredients.)
4. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and keep to one side.
5. Using a spoon, hollow out the inside of the tomatoes. (The flesh and seeds are not required for this recipe but they can be used to make a sauce or added to a salad.)
6. Turn the tomato upside down and slice a small piece off the bottom. (This will help it upright on the baking tray.)
7. Season the inside of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and then put a spoonful or two of mixture into each tomato.
8. Put the tops back on the tomatoes and place on a greased baking tray.
9. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes (until the tomatoes are cooked but still in one piece!) 10) Serve hot or cold.
by Victoria Twead.
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here or click the button below to view her own blog…