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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 Sole of the Matter - 1982, Miami Playa, Tarragona
03 January 2014 @ 02:26

It's 1982 and we're living in Miami Playa.


I've just got back home and I notice the 35,000 pesetas we left lying on the wall unit is gone. A carton of cigarettes is missing as well. I'm surprised and shocked.  Surely we haven't had a burglar? I go into the bedroom. Nothing is different there. But then I remember my jewellery that I hid in a suitcase. I crawl underneath the bed and discover the suitcase open. My jewellery, all of it, is gone. It isn't much, but the pieces have sentimental value.


I feel numb. Someone has been underneath the bed? Someone has taken the time to rummage? Who? How did they get in? I examine the bedroom window. Since there is no air conditioning we leave the window open, but we do close the blind. It has small holes, so that way we can get fresh air. From the outside you can't tell that the window is open. The blind has been forced up and there is a footprint on the dusty windowsill.


Maybe someone saw something suspicious going on?  The only neighbours who are around now that summer is over are the strange Frenchman and his even odder teenage son. They basically do nothing and we wonder often what the boy does all day long.  I march down to ask the Frenchman if he saw anyone lurking about. Actually, I'm already beginning to suspect his strange son. I wouldn't put it past him to break in and help himself.


I yell through the Frenchman's open window. What comes out of my mouth is like a hyena screaming its head off. I just suddenly remember that my French isn't all that good, and that the Frenchman doesn't speak English or Spanish. He hears me and pokes his head out of the window.

"Bonjour, madame!"


I'm left standing feverishly trying to come up with some words to explain what has happened.

The Frenchman stares quizzically at me as I jump up and down doing charades in the attempt at conveying what has happened.  I even show him the sole of my shoe, just to let him know that I am indeed a serious and concientious detective and that nothing will go by me. If I can find the sole of the shoe that matches the footprint on the windowsill, then I have found the culprit.


I nod my head vigorously as if that might help get my message across to him.


Just then his son arrives. He certainly looks guilty, and I'm dying to see the soles of his shoes. There has to be a way! I could admire his beautiful shoes and ask to try them on? No, that wouldn't work. I could pretend to fall down, and grab his ankle, lift his foot and peek at the sole.


Too late. He goes inside his house without even a bonjour or salut.


His father, the Frenchman, is still staring at me through the open window.


"Bonne chance, madame. Good luck."


Since we have no telephone there's no other way but to go down to the police station in person. Off I go in the fabulously fantastic Alpha Romeo to Hospitalet del Infante and relate my tale of woe to the bored looking Guardia Civil man. He types the report so very slowly with one finger.


"Señora, it was probably gypsies who burgled you. Many of the foreigners around here have been burgled. The gypsies get a child to sneak in the houses, then the adults dispose of the goods. Your stuff is probably already in Morocco!" He snaps his fingers to show how quickly my jewellery has been transported and duly dealt with.


"There's a footprint on the windowsill." I declare, determined that he should investigate the scene of the crime.


"What size is the footprint? How much was the blind forced open? Do you think an adult could have climbed through the space? Think about it, señora!"


I do indeed think about it. Oh dear. It's possible he's correct. The footprint was quite small. Hmm, and the Frenchman's son is one big lanky fellow who has enormous feet. The space where the blind was shoved up was small. A great big tall lad like the Frenchman's son would never be able to squeeze in.


"I'm afraid there's nothing to be done. Gypsies are clever. They move fast and they don't stay around."


"You really believe it was gypsies?"


"Absolutely. Without any doubt. I'm sorry, señora."


I can't believe I was so dead set on the Frenchman's son being the culprit!  Imagine if I had grabbed his ankle to get a good look at the sole of his shoe! I almost did!


Granted, I jumped to conclusions.   But, who can be really sure that it was the gypsies who burgled us? They get blamed for everything. Shouldn't there still be an investigation, no matter what?






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