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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part II. South West

Cádiz Tea Party

Steve Porter
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Not much could go wrong in such a small flat. But when the toilet was filling up with water Juan had to come round and do some stopgap plumbing. Mary put a pan on the stove to boil some water and asked Juan if he would like a cup of tea.

“Pero ustedes son escoceses. ¿No hay güisqui?”

Mary smiled and shook her index finger and head at the same time.

“Sorry, no whisky here.”

Juan decided it might be a novelty to drink tea like a Brit and agreed to join us. He finished tying a piece of string round the llave de bola (ballcock) and washed his hands. He sat down on the sofa, which doubled up us our bed and asked us about our plans for the future. How long were we planning to stay?

I said that this might be our last month. From the beginning we had agreed to rent on a month-to-month basis. The time had come to go back home and start earning some money. I didn’t want to teach and the glass painting wasn’t taking in nearly enough cash. Juan asked Mary if she enjoyed living in Cádiz.

“¡Oh sí, estupendo!”

He laughed at her choice of adjective and said he was pleased she was picking up some Spanish. Then he asked what places we had been to visit. I told him about our stay in Conil, where an old guy walked the beat, impersonating a policeman, directing traffic through the quiet streets of the town. I told Juan about my interview in Jerez and our visit to the white towns of Ronda, Arcos and Vejer. He asked about my favourite place and I said that Seville was hard to beat, possibly the most enchanting city of all Iberia. It was amazing to walk through streets lined with orange trees and I loved it down by the Guadalquivir River, with the Torre del Oro shining like a Terry’s All Gold box. It would be a great city to live in but I didn’t know if I could cope with forty-degree heat in the summer. At least in Cádiz there was a breeze blowing in off the Atlantic.

“Muy bien,” said Juan, looking at his watch, and getting up to go. “Hasta luego.”

“Adiós, Juan.”

I opened the door and showed him out. When I came back in Mary was attending to the hiss of steam coming from the hob on the cooker. Mary threw the hot pan into the sink and slapped a hand off her forehead. I knew for sure that the time had come leave. We had become so far removed from society that we couldn’t even remember to make a guest a cup of tea.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationOctober 2006
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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