For whom the bell tolls?: Fri, Mar 07, 2003

It could only happen to me! The other night I picked my daughters up from the airport at Malaga. During the 2 hr drive back to Lanjarón I told them how wonderful the area was, how lovely the people were, how cheap it all was. What beautiful views you could see, if it wasn’t dark! I related tales of history ….. of battles between the Moors and Christians. Told them about El Cid. I was just telling them how life was simple but good and people always had a smile on their faces when …………. rounding the corner on the outskirts of Lanjarón by the bottling plant at 1 am in the morning …………. we came upon……….. a Guardia Civil Police checkpoint!

No smiling faces, just dark, hard faces. Hands at the ready on pistols. “Ah” I said, momentarily lost for words. And, of course we got flagged down. Now at these times in your life thoughts pass by so fast. Do I get out and say “Viva La General (Franco)” ….. bad idea, because hes dead! Ok, then what about “Arriba la Republica!”. Better not. In the end I did the Yorkshire thing and said NOWT.

The officer looked at me and asked me for my passport. Guess what, I didnt have it with me. Things in my mind went from bad to worse. Was I to be thrown over a cliff into the gorge below? (as in Ernest Hemingway’s famous novel). Was I to face the full might of the Spanish Inquisition? Garroted? Hung? Put against the wall and shot?

They obviously thought Emma and Claire seemed suspicious and dodgy too (I’d been telling them that for years!), because they demanded their pasports for inspection. Things didn’t look too good. The turning point came when I told them in halting Spanish where I lived. As soon as the officer realised that I was “El Loco Ingles” with the “Grandes Perros” his atitude changed. Without further ado we were on our way with calls of “Adios” and “ha luego”. We will proably be good mates now! Viva Espana!

Written by:
Richard Hartley

Richard is an avid blogger and the founder of Spanish Highs Sierra Nevada. He is author of the Cicerone Guidebook Walking and Trekking in the Sierra Nevada