Monday, January 3, 2011

ArtTraveler describes the humanity of his village, Canillas de Albaida, Spain

Image by S. van Drake: My view of our valley in the clouds.

Pepe's a regular feature of this village of perhaps 800 permanent residents.

Varies and explodes somewhat in the summer when seasonal residents return for weeks or  months of vacation from colder climes.

Daily, Pepe walks along Calle Estacion, always in slow motion, every step measured, walking with a stick, leaning against the walls of the townhomes, some dating back 700 years, as he negotiates and advances upon one section of this most narrow High Street of our village of Canillas de Albaida to yet another.

Then he stops and smokes a cig on my steps or near Paco's Bar and like many villagers watches other villagers go about their business. It is after all a small town and small towns everywhere in the world seem to emulate certain characteristics of communal behavior.

What is special about this place?

Pepe' cannot talk. I mean he can utter guttural sounds and when he takes three to four seconds intensely studying your face to focus and recall, then he suddenly erupts laughing and smiling wildly from his gut, which makes you feel so very good, and you know he does, too.

Pepe, before his stroke a few years ago, was the village's basura man.

At least three days a week, driving this weird two-cyclinder deisel-fueled contrapction, a very strange vehicle, usually driven in reverse with scoop and shovel all rolled into one and designed for the narrowest streets in the world, Pepe would drive about and collect and dispose of your garbage and unwanteds.

Joan, a Brit friend who has lived here many years and speaks fluent Spanish, this week told me this story about Pepe.

Once while in Paco's Bar (also known as Cerezeo's Bar Cafe Gallery), Pepe acted heroically in the face of a huge rat that sprang from behind a collection of Paco's stacked up empty bottles.

As the story goes, Pepe immediately stormed after the rat, grabbed his sorry arse and smashed him to the floor killing him instantly and then casually tossed the rat's now dead and sorry arse out the door onto Calle Estacion.

The village is an extended family of sorts.

If you're accepted, even as an expat and valued as a neighbor and member of this greater  fellowship, you will be protected.

Pepe has his family and his friends who keep him fed and physically well, but it is the rest of us who keep him (and us) smiling and laughing.

No one really knows what goes on in his mind. Even though he cannot speak what does he really understand?

I know for sure he understands humanity. And we understand his.

Rock on and practice peace and love, And check out my funky videos on YouTube.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM).

1 comment:

  1. When I was a student at Macalester I walked from Madrid to Granada. Had I stayed longer I might had made it to Canillas de Albaida and become part of the landscape myself. Had Pepe's rat appeared in an upcountry Thai village, he would probably have been eaten...