Once, not so very long ago, I lived in Niguelas, a beautiful but remote Andaluz village, folded into a crack in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Populated mostly by geriatric olive farmers, Niguelans are known locally as ‘Los Lentos’ which either means ‘the relaxed ones’ or ‘the idiots’ depending on whether or not you live in Niguelas. Life here moves at the speed of a geographic era, and aside from the annual fiesta with its communal paella drowned in tartrazine, nothing ever happens. All the women do all day is sweep and scrub and wipe (in Andalucia, you are only as virtuous as your village is clean). Then they pour oceans of bleach down the storm drains and tuck in to their defrosted chicken dinners and their games shows, , wondering what they have done to deserve such terrible fibromyalgia.
Bored out of my mind, I spent my time shopping for cleaning products that I never used and trying to attract the attention of Salvador the stallion tamer.
I was secretly besotted with Salvador and wasn’t put off by the fact that his wife told my neighbour she wanted to boil my head in Churro oil. Unfortunately Salvador did not look remotely like the man in this photo. He had stubby legs, a beer belly and bulging hyperthyroidic eyes that stared out of a spade shaped head. But it was his eye teeth that really did it for me – sharp protruding incisors that said ‘Sure, I could rip the flanks off a wild boar if I felt like it, and if you mate with me, come the next ice age my ability to tear raw meat will greatly improve your chance of survival. Now get your knickers off.”
One day my only friend in the village – an Icelandic sex addict called Clara – and I watched Salvador break Tango, his enormous black Portuguese stallion. For 45 minutes the furious beast tore around the corral kicking his hind legs off. With ears flat to his head, he bucked and growled and foamed at Salvador who shuffled in a circle in the middle of the corral, his hand held aloft in Papal blessing, softly clicking his tongue at the stallion. This enraged Tango until there was just a blur of teeth and hooves. Then Salvador began to incant some kind of strange equine catechism at Tango. The recital got louder and louder until the sweat poured from the horseman’s neck and only the whites of his eyes showed. Then when Clara and I had melted into two pools of lust, Salvador stamped his foot, threw back his head (revealing a hairy throat decked with gold madonnas & crucifixes), and with a great shout of ‘abajo!’ (down!) the stallion dropped to its knees before him.
Of course it was Clara he wanted. Clara had a body like Barbie’s and pink wavy hair that went down to her bum. The following day Salvador invited her up to his cortijo in the high Sierra where no body goes except to fuck or be buried. In her haste to meet Salvador, Clara had parked her car in front of the garage of my other neighbour Conception (Con-thep-theon) which meant her missing her doctor’s appointment. Conception hated me singing Cher songs around the village at the top of my lungs. She hated that I wore Manolo Blahniks to school, viewed my morning yoga practice as ‘sexo repugnante’, and complained to Encarni the mayor’s wife that I let the village down as I never scrubbed my stoop. And now this! ‘La Zora Estranjera’ – as all women who refuse to wear the regulation taupe polo neck, grey track suit bottoms and pop socks are known – couldn’t even move her putamadre friend’s car!
Clara was in serious trouble. Bunking off with Salvador along with polishing off my Wise Woman eye wrinkle cream (she was 23!) had me sobbing into my pillow like Anna Karenina. When she returned at sunset, stinking of brandy and leather, she begged for my forgiveness, but I just carried on with my emails, purse-lipped, tortured by images of Clara and my sweaty stallion tamer, grappling in the dust like dung beetles.
That night at the local hop I glowered at Salvador over the goats meat barbecue. Then his wife strode up and slapped me in the face. So I went home, drank a bottle of white wine and sang “Do you believe in life after love” so loudly that Con-thep-thion thumped on my door.
But I needed no prompting. I’d had quite enough relaxation for one lifetime. It was time to move on.
*Salvador the horseman looked nothing like the above image.