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Arguing about all sorts: the third year of our Spanish adventure

This account of our life in Spain is loosely based on true events although names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories and from my diaries of the time. I may have also changed identifying characteristics and details of individuals such as appearance, nationality or occupations and characters are often an amalgam of different people that I met.

The Spanish rural pastime: encroaching on other people's land.
08 July 2014 @ 16:56

A month later Marino had some Romanians working for him, clearing his avocado terraces. He'd already explained that although the local going-rate for labouring was fifty euros a day, you could get them to work for just thirty, because they were desperate.
'No thanks,' we'd said. 'We'll pay them fifty euros like we pay everyone else.'
He worked them hard, ordering them about and watching them like a hawk until his terraces were immaculate, free of all branches, old fruit, leaves etc. But for some reason, he decided to get them to dump a large pile of the branches and leaves and mess on one of our terraces, right next to the house. 
The next time I saw him I shouted up to his terrace.
'Hey Marino! The peones have put some of your rubbish on our land by accident. Mira.' 
'What am I supposed to do with it?' he called back.
'I don’t care. No es mi problema,' I shouted back. 'Make sure it's gone by next week as we've got tourists dentro de una semana. Make sure they're gone by then.' 
In fact, we had tourists due in a fortnight, not a week – I’d said that to rush him along. However, it was ten days later, while we were about to drive past on the main road below, that I spotted smoke coming from near our cortijo.  We went up to investigate what the smoke could be and were amazed to see the smouldering embers of a fire on our land. Marino was nowhere to be seen so I couldn't confront him.
The next day we drove up again to try and catch him.  Now, where the ugly pile of branches and mess had been there was a massive black pile of ashes and the earth was all stained black. That would be one of the first things the tourists saw upon arrival.
I heard a rustle from the land above, so I knew he was hiding there amongst the trees. I shouted up in Spanish: 
'Hey, you haven't got rid of your rubbish from our land and you've now made it look really feo. We didn't give you permission to light a fire on our land. Light it on your own land!'
'Que?' he replied.
'I don’t want your branches, your leaves or your ashes on my land,' I went on. 'Get rid of them.'
'No t’entiendo,' (‘I don’t understand you’) he shouted back.
'Si, m’entiendes,' (‘yes you do’) I shouted back. 'And make sure this lot is gone by this time tomorrow.'
On the Thursday (the tourists were due on the Saturday) he apparently tried to place the ashes on the track below. Simon spotted him and shouted at him that he had better not put them there as the wind would blow them all into Simon's pool below. 
We drove up once more on the Friday; we were worried about the awful impression the mess would create for the holiday-makers. Fortunately Marino had got rid of the ashes, but there was a horrible black stain left on the earth of our terrace. 
I just couldn't understand the mentality. There had been absolutely no need for it. He’d got the Romanians to clear and burn mountains of stuff on his land, and stains on his land didn’t matter as it is pure agricultural land with no house, no holiday let etc., so why did he have to encroach on our land?
As we continued to live in Spain though, we worked out that it was part of the Spanish mentality – amongst the little shitty Spaniards – “los malos” (‘the bad ones’) as one of our good Spanish friends called them – whereby even though they didn’t need to, they liked to shit on your territory, like an animal marking it. They liked to steal something, sometimes a chunk of your land, even; they liked to walk on your land, even though that might mean they were going the long way around, and so on.

To see the end result of all the work on our casa, take a look at the house now:

And also another of our completed projects:


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