We bought our Spanish house knowing it was in the middle of the countryside – a cortijo in ‘el campo’. Having worked in high pressure jobs in big cities for most of our lives, peacefulness and tranquillity was something we were looking for. However, I hadn’t quite realised that el campo also creates a lot of noise. From dogs barking through the night, to cockerels crowing at 3am (clearly something wrong with their internal clock – no way can that be dawn!), and birds tweeting and singing continuously at all times of day and night. The more we are there, the more we get used to this cacophony of animal noises. But some things are more difficult to deal with than others ….
A snake snaking about
One day when I was on the phone in the sitting room, my husband Hilary dashed in from the front garden to get his camera. I thought nothing more of it, until I saw the pictures he had taken of an enormous snake in the corner of our patio. I kind of knew that there might be snakes about, but seeing the pictures made me realise that they can be seriously big, and seriously scary. How Hilary managed to keep his cool and calmly collect his camera to take these pics, I will never know. He was working in the garden, literally no more than 1 meter away from the snake! Since then, we’ve tried to find out what type of snake it is, but so far haven’t been able to identify it. We’d love to know, though, for no other reason than to stock up on the right antidote, if and when it appears again!
A story about rabbits
Every Sunday in the autumn, local people will don their hunting gear, release their dogs and roam the countryside to shoot wild rabbits. On one particular Sunday, our neighbour Francisco walks in and proudly presents us with two – recently shot – rabbits. He showed us how to skin and gut them, hanging them from a nearby olive tree, and then expertly prepared them ready for dinner (with lots of chilis, wine and garlic, marinating for two hours). I probably should have cooked them for a lot longer than 90 minutes in the oven, as the dish turned out a bit chewy and still too reminiscent of live bunnies hopping around. Lesson learnt for next time (and I’m secretly hoping that there won’t be a next time …).
Zillions of ants
I love the film Antz with Woody Alan’s voice-over of the main character, Z, who is a worker ant, one of many billions, looking for an escape from drudgery to try to find Nirvana. Highly recommended viewing, and particularly relevant for those of us wanting to escape the rat race, but also during the months of May and June when our place is absolutely inundated by zillions of ants. Mainly outside, thankfully, but occasionally we realise we’ve left something out in the kitchen and the ants are there in a flash, making a long and orderly queue to pass the goodies back to their nest. So clever, though I’d prefer fewer of them, and they are HUGE! Putting your hand in an ant’s nest whilst gardening isn’t a great deal of fun either, so although I admire their organisation skills and work ethic immensely, I do use ant powder to keep the numbers down.
Lots more wildlife
Birdsong accompanies everything that we do, from early morning till late at night. The joy of hearing this beautiful sound is tempered by seeing – yet again – more bird droppings on our newly painted house walls. And from the hammock under the trees, we listen to the scurrying about of tree rats. Yes, indeed, there are such things as tree rats, and they’ve chosen our oak tree as their home. Makes for a somewhat less relaxing siesta in the hammock. Perhaps the snakes could eat the tree rats, and the tree rats could eat the ants. Now that would be a cool solution!