Farm girl does Spain

FARM GIRL DOES SPAIN

The ride from the airport to Portals Nous was cold and dreary. From the taxicab window, I saw a camel standing in the pouring rain, chewing cud like a cow. My daughter saw it at the same time. “What have you gotten us into, Mother?” She asked, and I remained silent for I did not have an answer.

Being a farm girl from Missouri, I had attended college, married and divorced twice in the same small town, and figured it was time to leave. My travel experience was somewhat limited during my formative years, but immediately following my second divorce, I sold everything I owned, packed my bags, and took my fourteen-year-old daughter to Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The fact that I did not know a soul or speak the language did not deter me.
From Kennedy Airport to Madrid, Spain, we did not talked much during the flight. She was a little frightened, and to tell the truth so was I.

We arrived in Madrid at four o’clock in the morning, and the first thing we saw was a group of soldiers, armed with machine guns. The Madrid Airport had received a bomb scare a few days earlier, which was frightening for both of us. When we checked in, we found that we had just missed our connecting flight to Palma and there would not be another until 7:00 a.m. For the next three hours, we sat huddled together in the Madrid airport, anxiously watching, and waiting.

It was cold, and raining when we arrived in Palma. After clearing customs I located a taxi driver, but he could not understand me, and I certainly could not understand him. Not one driver knew the address of the house I had pre-leased in Portals Nous. Finally one old man stepped forward and took the paper from my hand and nodded yes.

Six kilometers Southwest of Palma, we came to a small village that was to be our home for the next few years. The driver turned right at the base of the mountain, and we began our ascent until we came to a house that was located near the top. I paid the taxi driver twenty American dollars and the way he smiled one would have thought I had given him a thousand.

We were cold and hungry. The little two-story house, with its marble floors, was freezing. I tried to turn on the lights, but we had no electricity or water. I have always been up for a challenge, but this little adventure was beyond my scope of tolerance. Kim and I climbed into the nearest bed and held hands until we fell asleep. We did not awaken until noon the next day.

At one o’clock in the afternoon, the sun was shinning in a bright blue sky. Kim and I walked down the mountain and into the village. We found a small restaurant in the middle of town and went inside. The dining room was packed. I pulled out my Spanish book and preceded to order breakfast. “Two glasses of orange juice, (dos vasos de naranja) four eggs (quarto huevos, frio), fried bacon, (tocino, frio) and bread, (y pan).”

When I finished ordering the waiter had a very strange look on his face, but he shrugged his shoulders and disappeared. I was immediately served coffee that made my hair stand on end. It was very thick, very black and very strong. When our order came, Kim and sat looking at the raw eggs and slab of raw bacon, with hair sticking out of it, and we began to giggle. The waiter joined in, and everyone in the restaurant laughed hysterically. I had mistakenly said frio, meaning cold instead of frito, meaning fried. The waiter took our raw eggs, and bacon back to the kitchen and cooked them.

After breakfast we walked to the beach accompanied by several people from the restaurant. I had visited the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, but the deep blue, Mediterranean Sea was the most beautiful body of water I had ever seen. Our new friends took us to an outside market where we did our grocery shopping, and then I hailed a taxi to take us back to our new home.

The next few days were unbearable. Unable to speak the language everyday chores were a challenge. Renting a car, turning on the electricity, even getting water, which had to be delivered by truck and stored in a tank beneath the house, was difficult at best. My first shower knocked me on my rear. Somehow, the electrical wiring was crossed into the water pipe. I soon learned to wear rubber boots while showering.

A week after we arrived in Portals Nous, I rented a small car in the village and enrolled Kim in the American School of Mallorca. It was a boarding school on the beach, and Kim had to live in the school during the week. The first week-end Kim asked me if she could go out with some friends she had met at the school and I told her to be home in two hours. I waited anxiously for three hours. Terrified that something horrible had happened, I decided to go looking for her, but had no idea where to start. Somehow, I got turned around and headed up the mountain instead of down. When I realized what had happened, I tried to turn the car around, but the front wheels went off the side of the road. The car was hanging precariously off the side of the mountain. I abandoned the car and walked three miles home in the dark. It was nearly midnight when Kim got home. She too had gotten lost and couldn’t find our house. The next morning, with the help of the waiter we had met at the restaurant, we called the car rental company and they retrieved the car.

With Kim in school I began to explore the Island. I immediately fell in love with Spain. The ocean drive from Portals Nous into Palma was breathtaking. I visited the Cathedral, walked down Paseo Matritimo, and toured Old Town. I drank coffee at an outdoor café, and tried to meet some locals. Although, they couldn’t understand a word I said, I found Spanish people to be extremely friendly, and patient.

One day, I was touring the city, looking up at a magnificent building, and I rammed into the back of a car that had stopped at a stop sign. Low and behold, four overly excited policemen got out of the car. I had no idea what they were saying so I just kept nodding in agreement. They took me to the police station, and called the Consultant’s office. An hour later an elderly gentleman came to my rescue by the name of Senor Ruiz. His English was as bad as my Spanish, but he had a warm smile, and perfect, white teeth, and we immediately became friends. After explaining what had happened, and why I was in Mallorca, he asked me if I needed a part time job, and I said yes. Senor Ruiz told me, he needed help with visiting, English speaking dignitaries, and he would hire me, but only if I learned to speak Spanish. He gave me the name of a teacher, and when I got home I called her. Her name was Marta Alvariz. She was a thirty-nine year old Swedish woman who was married to a Spaniard. My classes began the following day, and enjoyed them immensely.

One afternoon I stopped at the Belvedere Hotel on Paseo Matritimo and ordered a cup of coffee. I met a lovely British girl named Maria, who invited me to have coffee with her and her friends. She introduced me to a man named Fernando who was twenty-six years old, and extremely handsome. Like Maria, Fernando was a tourist guide for a British Company and he spoke perfect English. Before I said goodbye Fernando invited me out to dinner the following night.

It was a beautiful night. Fernando and I were eating Paella at the Parlament Restaurant when Maria called. She said that an American tourist had suffered a heart attack, and had expired in his room. The hotel had called for an ambulance and the man was taken to the local hospital, but when the man’s wife arrived at the hospital her husband’s body was not there. This happened to be a holiday week-end, and the government agencies were closed until the following Tuesday. Fernando, Maria and I spent the entire weekend searching for the deceased man who was not to be found. The man’s wife was freaking out, the hotel was freaking out, as was the American Consultant’s office. Finally, on Monday night we tracked down the ambulance driver, who informed us that he had taken the body to a private funeral home near the Belvedere Hotel. When we went to the funeral home, the director told us he did not have a way to transport the body back to the morgue. We debated for an hour whether or not to put the dead man in my car, but finally decided against it. On Tuesday morning, the man’s body was taken to the airport and shipped back to the states. This was only one of many strange things I experienced in Mallorca, which made my stay memorable. The man’s death was certainly not funny, but the surrounding circumstances were hilarious.

As the weeks passed, Fernando and I became good friends, and he became my personal guide. He showed me around Palma, and took me to Palma Nova, Magaluf, and Illetas. One week-end, we took Kim, me, and several of her friends to Formentor, located on the other side of the Island. We climbed the mountain, and got a good view of Michael Douglas’s house. Driving through the valley, we stopped and helped a sheep herder round up his sheep, and then we shared a bottle of wine, goat cheese, and bread with the sheep herder and his girlfriend. They invited us to stay with them, but we declined, promising to return.

One afternoon, I drove to the Tennis Club in Palma Nova. After a game of tennis, I went into the bar for a bottle of water and I came face to face with a Greek God. Mario was French Canadian, and a boat Captain for a wealthy land developer from Madrid. He was six-foot-three, his skin was golden brown, and he had perfect white teeth, blond hair, and a smile that could thaw a glacier. Even more importantly, I immediately sensed that Mario was as beautiful on the inside as he was on the outside.

A short time later, Jim and Linda, my dear friends from Columbia came for a visit. The first thing Jim did was to repair my electrical problem so they could shower without the threat of being executed. Both Linda and Jim loved Mario, and the four of us spent quality time together. The night they left, Mario took me to dinner at a restaurant on top of the mountain, overlooking Palma. Their specialty barbequed rabbit, which was delicious. When we arrived home he told me that his boss had planned a cruise, and that he would be gone several weeks. He kissed me goodnight, and said that he would call as soon as he returned.

A week later, I met a giant of a man. He was Russian, and his name was Mirko. He was big, blond, and handsome, and the casino manager in Magaluf. Mirko and I talked for two hours, and then he asked me out to dinner the following week. I told him I was going to be traveling for the next two weeks but I would call him when I returned.

Traveling to Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Rome, London, and Morocco, I had a fabulous time. During my stay in Madrid, I met Lord and Lady Brennington who invited me to a party on their yacht the Sunday I was to return to Palma.

On Sunday, at one o’clock, I drove to the marina and boarded the Brennington’s yacht. It was a beautiful February day, cool but pleasant. The sun was shinning, and not a cloud in the sky. Several people were there, including my new French neighbors who had recently moved into the house next door to the German. Standing on the top deck, drinking champagne and talking to my new neighbors, I was telling them of my fear of water when the young man suddenly picked me up and told me he could cure my fear. He was holding me close to the rail when a waiter tripped over a cord and fell against us, and we went flying overboard. It was a long drop from the third deck and when I hit the water I kept going down, deeper and deeper. I must have passed out because the next thing I remember I was standing in a warm shower with Lady Brennington, shaking uncontrollably. I don’t remember how I got home, but later learned that my neighbors had driven me, and if it hadn’t been for him, I would have drowned.

The next day Mirko called and invited me to lunch. We spent the next few weeks together. He took me to a new restaurant everyday, and we spent the afternoons touring the different villages surrounding Palma. Mirko, I later learned, worked for the KGB as well as the CIA. In other words, he was a double agent. His cover was managing the Casino in Magaluf. He did not go into details, and I did not ask. Mirko was nothing like James Bond or a foreign spy you see in the movies. He was a quiet, considerate, caring man. The kind of man a woman could depend upon. We were never intimate, but we became very good friends in a very short time. At the end of the third week, Mirko told me he had to go to Moscow for a week. He left early Sunday morning, and I didn’t hear a word from him for three years and a half years.
A week after Mirko left, I began teaching tennis at the Tennis Club in Palma Nova. It was a riot. Twelve men showed up for class, and only four had tennis rackets. I charged fifteen dollars an hour but they didn’t seem to mind. I think they liked the idea of talking to an American.

One morning I entered the club, and found Mario sitting at the bar. It was great to see him, but I immediately knew that something was wrong. He was too quiet, and he looked as if he had not slept for a week. That night we went to dinner in Magaluf. Shortly after dinner he told me that he had gotten a young Spanish girl pregnant and she was living with him on the yacht. I asked him if he loved her. He said no, but he told me that he had to do the right thing. I saw Mario once more at a festival in Arenal. He introduced me to his girlfriend and baby boy, who was absolutely beautiful. Three months later I learned that Mario had died aboard the yacht. There was an explosion and everyone on board vanished, including his girlfriend, baby, and his boss. I will never forget Mario. I was never in love with him, but I certainly loved him. He was a very special spirit.

Early one morning the telephone rang and it was the American Consultant’s Office. I was asked if I could accompany Senor Ruiz to the airport to pickup a VIP who was to arrive at noon. He also asked if I could make myself available for the next 48 hours. He told me I would make $500.00 American dollars, which was a lot of money then, and I agreed.

When Senor Ruiz and I arrived at the airport in a black limousine, I was shocked when Mohamed Ali deplaned. I had never followed boxing, and I did not know what to think, but Mohamed was charming and wonderful. I had a fabulous time, but all through dinner he kept asking me why I was living in Spain. He could not understand why an American would choose to live in a foreign country. I did not try to explain and he did not push it. We dined together that night, and the next night he fought in a promotional boxing match. His opponent was small, and certainly not in Mohamed’s class, but it was suppose to be a charity match for fun. Mohamed Ali danced, joked, and refused to hit his opponent, and the crowd booed him. I felt badly for the American boxer, but he didn’t seem to mind. The next morning I delivered Mohamed Ali to the airport, and we said goodbye. It was a great experience.

Three years passed quickly. It was early Spring, and school was coming to a close. One afternoon, I met Maria and Fernando for lunch in Palma. We talked for hours and then I went shopping. I was trying on a pair of red high heels in the Charles Jordan Shoe Shop when in walked a gorgeous man, surrounded by four beautiful young women. The young man had dark, olive skin, and black, curly hair. He walked over to me and said, “you should buy those shoes. They look perfect on your feet.”

His beautiful brown eyes melted into mine, and knew he was the one. His name was Carlos. He handed me his card, and told me that he owned a Modeling Agency, and was looking for a shoe model. He asked if I could meet him at his office at four o’clock that afternoon and I immediately said yes.

The office was not far from where I lived and easy to find. At 4:00 pm I walked into the building, and found twelve beautiful girls hanging around the reception area. I asked to see Carlos, and the young girl buzzed his office. When he came out, he was smiling and we shook hands. Carlos and I talked for several hours. He invited me to dinner, and we dined at a small café on Plaza Gomilla. Carlos told me he needed help with a fashion show he was doing in a month. He also told me he couldn’t pay me much, but I didn’t care. He scheduled the photo shoot early the next morning and then we went to lunch. The following month was so busy I didn’t have time to think. We worked from 8:00 am until 3:00 the in the morning. I think I managed two hours sleep a night.

The fashion show was spectacular. It was held at one of the most beautiful discos I had ever seen. The floor was made of glass and beneath it was an aquarium. When you danced you could see the fish swimming below. The models were beautiful, elegant, and great dancers. At the end of the show, a machine blew confetti and colorful bubbles from the ceiling. I had never seen such an extravert, and glorious fashion show. The show ended at 2:00 am, and everyone stayed and drank champagne until five, and then we went out for breakfast. Somehow Carlos ended up at my house and that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

The months passed quickly, and the time came to leave. Kim graduated from High School and wanted to attend college at San Diego State, and I reluctantly agreed. That night at dinner, Carlos held me close. He told me that we would be together someday, and I believed him. Two days later, I said a tearful farewell to Carlos, and to all the wonderful friends I had made in Spain. When we boarded the plane to leave Mallorca, I cried like a baby.

A few months later, my daughter and I moved to La Jolla, California and I opened a business. We had only been there a month when I got an early morning call from Mirko. He told me he needed a place to stay for awhile, and, of course, I said yes. He told me he would call back at 7:00 am, and give me his flight number. That was the last time I heard from him. I have always wondered what happened to my wonderful friend, Mirko.

Ten years later I re-united with Carlos in Venezuela. We married on the beach in Macuto, and moved to Isla de Margarita where we spent eight wonderful years… But, as they say, that is another story.

Farm girl does Spain

Patricia Dexheimer

Lake Park, United States

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