As your narrator, please forgive me for letting my guard down and thus giving Huckleberry a chance to steal my thunder for the introduction to Volume III of this adventure. Rest assured that no more first person coup d´etat will overcome this blog. If this was a third person omniscent blog, perhaps I would have seen it coming, and we could have avoided offending you.
Well, enough adoing about nothing.
Chapter 13: Garbayuela
One day over a raucous round of rapid cañas during la siesta here in Cáceres, Tomás and Huckleberry were talking about how little time he had left and all the things he had on his plate – besides the heaping mess of sweet and sour chicken over french fries next to the liter bottle of beer.
They were waiting for Gregorio to show up when Huck was explaining the last three Extremeñan things on his list before he jets off to similarily green pastures. 1. El monasterio de Guadalupe 2. La Valle de Jerte 3. Visit any one of the myriad tiny-tiny towns that exist in the vast countryside that is Extremadura, a place so big that hardly anyone in Spain has heard of it. Mallorca – tiny, famous. Galicia – small, internationally known. The canary islands – pequeñitos bikinis, photographed for Sports Illustrated and shipped to people all over the world. Extremadura – fairly big and relatively huh? Extrema-Where? Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
Huck was in luck. Tomás had gears grinding full steam ahead to get some of these guiris out to his family´s hometown. It just so happened that this train was headed for one of the tiniest everybody is everyones´ relative somehow someway type of boonie living country towns of Extremadura. Manolo, Gregorio, and Tomás are all from Garbayuela in eastern Badajoz. It´s as south as southern Spain gets without being Andalucía. Its as close to Castilla la Mancha as you can get without staining your hand with its rich history. And yet, it just might be the farthest thing from anything. Except for domestic animals. Here, you´re never too far from a sheep or a bull, a cow, a horse, a pig, or whatever. The usual Animal Farm suspects.
What does that mean? That means you´ll be driving through shrubbery scaped horizons in yellow and orange colored dirt that skirts the shadows of pines, olive trees, ferns, cactus and all sorts of mixed mediterranean and midatlantic climate cliches. It´s beautiful. If you haven´t, dear readers, already gotten the jist from this run-on blog thus far – Extremadura is a gorgeous place to be in the winter. Everything is ultra green, mossy, wet, and on a day with that peculiarly low hanging winter sun everything is maximally illuminated from within.
It also means you´ll be driving into the heart of the rocky, half mountain half sea bed plain, middle of nowhere land nicknamed the Siberia because it was once land where Europeans exiled people. This place is as gorgeous as it is empty of convenience. Manolo told Huckleberry that Garbayuela, and above all The Siberia, was the ass of the earth. However, once he got there Huck couldn´t help but notice how fine that a%& was. It was beautiful. Haters gonna hate, Extremadura so don´t let it get you down. Shine. Be somebody.
It also means you´re going to get to meet everyone in the family. Everyone. And everyone will give you the life story of everyone in their family. Which is the life story of every person inhabiting the space between the at the end of grandpa Joe´s patch´a land by the pond and the nearest mountain. If you didn´t know your family vocabulary before, you will never forget it later. Trick question, who´s the suegra of someone´s cuñado? Don´t drop the ball now Huckleberry!
It means you´ll eat some of the best homecookin left in this mean old world of microwaves and electric stoves. This abyss of ketchup and mayo. Yes, right in good old no where there´s a plate of cocido (traditional garbanzo and meat dish. RRRiquísimo) with your name all over it. Better clean up your plate with some of G´ma´s bread. The bundled masses of dried hot (MILD) peppers in the storage room celebrate with all sorts of conserved delights and preserved harvests.
It means you´ll finally hear the birds backdropped by silence and dust rather than the constant flux of motors, screaming neighbors, and random modern “conveniences” berating your eardrums at every waking and dreaming moment. Ah, the city life! Yes, going to Garbayuela means sounds. Not noise.
It means you´ll see the town´s soccer team have a win on home dirt.
It means you´ll see said town get heavily slammed and sloshed to celebrate their second win ever.
It means you´ll scale a couple castles left undestroyed by the rampage of constant tourism. One euro to see for miles where they filmed such blockbusters as A Land Before Time and Jurassic Park as well as the widely acclaimed Dinosaur? Yes. Huckleberry actually saw a dinosaur hanging out with the kitties on the patio deck backing up the house of Tomás´ grandma. Somehow, after the long drive to arrive, such a sight went without inciting surprise.
It means you´ll see the biggest water reservoir in Europe. Not bad.
Here, Huckleberry noted again how nice it is to be within view of large amounts of water.
It means you´ll take a jeep ride through the set of Jurassic Park (which they just left there, buildings dinosaurs and all) to see the clouds hovering over cliffs and edges and saw like hills as one might paint the hills of middle of nowhere Japan on a nice, cloudy, and rainy day.
It means you´ll get to stroll through lands of endless olive trees and no one will make you help harvest them. You won´t truly now just how good that deal is, until you get to know what harvesting olives is like. No one speaks affectionately of the harvest, save for the social time you get in compensation.
It means they will make you drink at any hour, in any one of the three bars in town – two of which are rented by the government itself.
It means they will ask you to drink beer at any hour.
It means you will probably be drinking beer.
Imagine drinking beer right now, where you are. All day long. Yep. Just imagine.
Trust is established by you accepting hospitality. Better down that beer boy or we might get to thinkin u are wonuv them imperialist commies wavin that redwhiteblue. No, its not that bad. They´ll just stare you down until they´re absolutely sure that you aren´t somehow a danger of some kind and most absolutely sure that you´re not the devil American everyone told them about during 40 years of dictatorship and 30 years of democracy´s reconstruction.
Don´t worry, Huckleberry, once they figure out you´re not here to intimidate anyone with your clandestine radical politics, art, and philosophy they´ll invite you to many, many more drinks and get along with you just like old pals. As Huckleberry once found out, the smaller the town – the more they drink. They were human after all, these Spaniards, he supposed.