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Garlic and Olive Oil

My goal is to paint a picture of life in Spain during the seventies and eighties, albeit from a foreigner's point of view. Excerpts are in no particular chronological order.

The Plan Is - Get Me That Cap! - El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, 1974
14 October 2013 @ 02:26

Valdelagrana, El Puerto de Santa Maria, 1974

     I teach English to this wealthy, educated man from Madrid. Due to his work, he's living in Andaluci, a region of Spain that does not appeal to him one bit.

     "The Andaluces are nothing more than patosos. Lazy bums who spend their time dancing and drinking." He shakes his head in dismay.
     "They are fun to be with, I must admit." I'm not joking about that. The local people laugh a lot, drink a lot, clap their hands a lot. Not too sure how much work they get done, however.
     "That's the problem. They are not the slightest bit serious, certainly not in the office. In Madrid, we work hard. We plan and we accomplish."
      He really is a serious individual. He studies his English seriously, and he looks serious; even his expensive clothes seem serious. Therefore, I am surprised one day when he introduces me to his wife. I'm expecting to meet a serious, formal woman wearing a fur coat despite the fact that it's the month of April. You can always tell the people from Madrid - the women wear fur coats and the men wear these really thick winter coats that resemble something Sherlock Holmes would be happy in. It's as if they don't know that the weather here in El Puerto de Santa Maria is mild all year long. Or, maybe they just like to show off their expensive winter attire.

      His wife kisses me on the cheek. Gosh, do I hate getting kissed by someone I've only just met. But, I've learned not to recoil too much. She squeezes my arm as if we've known one another for years.

       "Lovely to meet you. My husband enjoys his classes with you."  She smiles abundantly, seems very friendly and not the slightest bit serious. She's wearing a yellow blouse and red trousers that flair at the ankle. She smells of expensive perfume.

       "My husband tells me you have access to the American Military Base?"
       Gosh, maybe she's going to ask me to get chocolate chip cookies for her. Maybe peanut butter? Occasionally people ask me to purchase items for them on the Base.

        She touches my arm again and looks directly into my eyes. I think I know how a priest feels when he hears a confession. I just know she's going to confide in me.

        "My husband and I, we already have a child. A little boy."

        "Your husband has told me about him." In actual fact, her husband never shuts up about their son. He holds the boy's left hand behind his back to force him to use his right hand. He says the boy is very talented but needs lots of discipline and that he'll send him to an Opus Dei school when he's older.
        "We don't want to have any more children right now. Once we go back to Madrid we plan on having another child. That's the plan.  But not here."

         "I understand. "  I think I do understand, but I know I don't really. I'd just as soon talk about the weather or about the sales in the local boutiques.
         "You have a doctor on the Base?" Her voice is soft and her eyes plead with me.

         Now, why is she asking me about a doctor? Maybe she's ill? But, there are doctors in the town she can go to.

         "Yes. But I never go to him." I really don't. Why would I?

         "Maybe you could make an appointment with him?  Talk to him?"

         "About what?"  What on earth is she getting at? 

         "There's a contraceptive  device I've heard about. It's called a diaphragm or a Dutch cap."

          "I see."

          "We're not allowed to use contraception. I can't get this Dutch cap from my doctor." 

          Oh no. Surely she doesn't want me to ask my doctor for a Dutch cap?!

          "Perhaps," she continues, "You could get this contraceptive device and give it to me? You look to be about the same size as me.  I'll pay you."
           I'm speechless. I think my mouth actually does hang open and my eyes practically pop out of my head. I've been asked to get many a thing from the American Naval Base, but this is a first.


Like 0


alant said:
19 October 2013 @ 09:29

is it possible for any English speaking person to enter the navel base?

eggcup said:
19 October 2013 @ 09:37

Interesting piece. Of course, this is the way it is heading again. Once the right-wing Government has outlawed abortion, contraception would be the next logical thing to make illegal (then homosexuality etc.). How depressing for the women of Spain to have these people (mostly male) trying to control the most essential aspects of them. These extreme Catholics have more in common with Islam than they realise.

timmytoo said:
19 October 2013 @ 19:44


Thank you both for your comments. I appreciate them.

My husband was in the military at the time, the seventies, and so I had an i.d. card that allowed me on the Base.

I've never forgotten that woman asking me for a diaphragm or Dutch Cap! I was literally speechless. In case you're wondering, I did not get it for her. Lol.

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