The families have come and gone. The house is empty again except for Granny and Beloved and their menagerie. Except for the wind which has returned with a vengence and is currently going in and out, especially at Granny's back in her rather cold office. She has replaced her shawl for the first time in over a month. She is wearing her sheepskin slippers. All of it is a sign, she fears, that the dread trade winds are limbering up to start on their over-long summer residence. Making the clouds gather, the chickens stop laying, the land dry up, the vegetables dwindle to nothing, in the curious Canarian inversion of the northern barrenness of winter. Time to go elsewhere, Granny thinks. Except that, thanks to the menagerie, this is difficult. Curses. This evening she and Beloved will return to their Darby and Joan existence, sitting alone by their fire. The fire hasn't been lit for a month. She intends lighting it tonight.
Trade winds or no trade winds, this island, at least, continues its normal not so merry way; suffering from the attempts of corrupt businessmen, corrupt tourist chiefs and even corrupter politicians, most of them related to each other - this is an island, darlings, and small - to concrete it over, to the sole advantage of the above and, in particular, of the already stinking rich construction industry. If this lot had their way the only open spaces left outside the national park would be golf courses. (Which use more water than the biggest town on the island; water here, by the way, almost all coming from the local desalination plants already doing their bit to add to global warming providing water for the new unlived-in houses, the new developments, ditto, the new never full hotels ; none of them wouldn't you know, provided with the water tanks - the aljibes - that used to catch all the rain and conserve it for use; not enough profit in that little extra, obviously. Madness. Also: how come it is worth the developers' if not the construction industry's money/time, building these things if they are so surplus to requirements? They must get some - even some large - profit out of it. Tax relief?? Granny and Beloved will use their now more extensive - if still limited - contacts to try and find out.)
There are signs, however, that things may change; a little. To judge from the local free sheets, newspapers, journals which Granny devours these days - her Spanish classes have had one good effect - the non-political worms, tired of the concrete, tired of an ever-increasing flood of what they call 'low-class' tourists, brought in to fill the houses/hotels at very low cost - to the tourists - and very little profit - to the locals - the tour companies take it all - are beginning to fight back. People thrown out of their houses and land in order for one golf course to be built, offered a mere 4 euros a metre in compensation, are shouting very loudly indeed. A new development, further north, has been blocked with the help of a community of German nudists; another, in Granny's own district which would have put paid to the spoonbills not least, has been vetoed by no less tham the Spanish Ministry of the Environment; thank god the Canaries aren't yet independent. Politicians of all colours, even the ones not yet in prison/court on corruption charges, are being slated on every side. New, purer (for now; until they too can't resist the chance to buy Armani suits, install swimming pools at their villas) political parties are springing up. Cynicism apart, next year's elections will be interesting. Granny as a householder has the right to vote in local elections; she has every intention of doing so. She is beginning to measure her growing love for this island she landed on by mistake by her growing outrage at what she sees being done to it.
Still, some things don't change; not least the way local festivities carry on, regardless of builders, politicians, tourists. On the evening of Good Friday she went out for a drink with Beloved's Beloved Daughter and her boyfriend. (Beloved was back home doing what he always does - how he always protects himself during these onslaughts of people; cooking.) The bar chosen - Granny's and Beloved's preferred bar, because it is mostly patronised by locals - sits alongside the main road through the town. All was quiet at first. But then suddenly the road was invaded by large numbers of junior bowls teams (Canarian bowls is something between English bowls and French boules and played by all ages, not just the aged as in England) each team wearing different coloured tracksuits; red, blue, green. Their brightness, their chatter was overtaken by the blaring of police horns, by blue flashing lights; one police car crawled ahead of a procession led by a woman carrying a large crucifix, another car crawled behind it. The procession itself chanted a low muted chant; apart from the priest and another man it was composed almost entirely of middle-aged women wearing brown and grey and black. The vivid, noisy children - their children, their grandchildren, no doubt- flowed around them, in the opposite direction Two worlds; one world. How the island is.
Between them they took over the main road. Granny and companions had to go home the long way round.
But now it's all over. Tomorrow Beloved will renew his non-festive communion with the bank. Of which more, next time.