The wagon departed, with a troop of spare horses behind. The weather was fair and all the spectacle and splendour that his teacher had described unfolded before Manuel: a world of flat topped hills, raw earth and sheets of water, green tints bordering the blue; brown earth once more; until white painted peaks like the ones in the sierras of San Fiz de Lamas rose slowly over the horizon.
On a morning like any other, sometime around Christmas, amidst a lot of sun and seagulls, a ship arrived carrying passengers and cargo. The usual tangled uproar took place, the little tugboat blowing smoke while it towed in the chatas, which were carrying all sorts of things on board: scared, crying children; extravagant consignments — including one upright piano; men who would not let go of their bags and demanded to be carried to dry land along with them; women coming to make the impossible possible in this male territory of oil-workers and shepherds.
When Manuel and his friend were well seasoned by the sun and the ocean winds, the ship finally reached a sea of red-brown water which the sailors on their ship called a river. On the shore there was a big port and cluster of long, tall buildings, with police, customs, health inspection and a “Hotel for Immigrants”.
Don Emeterio Suárez de Valcarría y Candia was a great huntsman, and an even better womaniser. It was well known throughout the region that, as soon as the season opened, he’d be up in the mountains, day after day, goaded on by the smell of gunpowder with not a thought in his head but feathers and hides and trophies.
Years went by, possibly some twenty, and the spinners of Soacinsa rarely crossed Don Emeterio’s mind. Vicente da Rula fell prey to a cancer that morphine could do little to mask; and the chemist heard no more about that child in the mountains except — from what his servant had told him — that he was growing up happily, with his loving mother and the kindly verger of San Fiz whom the woman had ended up marrying.
Don Emeterio Suárez de Valcarría y Candia was a great huntsman, and an even better womaniser. It was well known throughout the region that, as soon as the season opened, he’d be up in the mountains, day after day, goaded on by the smell of gunpowder with not a thought in his head but feathers and hides and trophies. There were times when he’d be marooned by heavy snowfall and not return home for weeks — not that his family worried much about that, for there were arrangements in place for these absences of the master of the house: his wife took charge of the household and their nine sons, and they had an assistant to look after the chemist shop where the locals would still gather in the back to play cards and dominoes, buoyed by comments and conjecture about the chemist’s carryings-on.
Oh God, tonight. Just got back with Juliana and Leon. Tired and drunk still, but want to write.
El Valle de los Caídos, a Catholic basilica and monumental memorial
First day discovering Madrid.
Beginning of my pelicula. Sleepless night fretting. Low clouds of dawn.