Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Where Did They Come From?

While our girls were studying in the north of Spain and in France, our spare girls still lived with us most of the time. They were like five sisters and are still today. These three extra girls came from dysfunctional British families and we looked after them for several years. They started staying with us at very early ages and just stayed most of the time. They helped with all the chores and with the animals and really having six children (five girls and a boy) was as easy as having three. I still feel like they are still mine today. Sometimes I would take them on trips with me and we all had a great time. Because they all spoke a variety of languages they would mix them up and use the first word that came into their head and because they all understood all the languages it didn’t matter because it was like their own special language. One time I took one of the girls to France with me to get Jessica, who was at a riding-school, it was a no-break twelve months a year course so they could get in their studies and their riding: they had a month on and a month off studies. We took a train to the north of Spain and then rented a car to go to France. On the way back we picked up Amber at Izarra, the school she was at in the Basque country. By the time we were all together in our two cabins on the train in Vitoria for the ride back across Spain the girls had tons of things to catch up on so they jabbered all day. People kept coming out of their cabins to look and listen to the girls, wondering where they came from. Besides with the combination of languages there was the combination of accents. One girl was from Manchester, England and two from America but had all grown up in Mojácar. They all had the dreadful Spanish Mojácar accent but could also speak perfect Castellano if they wanted and our girls had also picked up a bit of a northern accent. Then there was French and a few songs in Euskera (the Basque language). I could hear the people in the other cabins discussing this strange phenomenon. It was certainly nothing they had ever heard before. It is very common here in Mojácar for the children to speak four or five languages by the age of six or seven and they mix them up when they are together but when they speak to someone from a certain country they speak that language perfectly. As I have stated before it is a shame that the school and town hall never took advantage of having such a cultural diversity at their finger tips. Anyway we loved having the extra girls, which we think of as our daughters, and still do.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Baby Takes Lessons

In our aviary we have Love Birds of every color and they have lots of babies all year long. They usually find a partner and stay with them for life sharing everything from building the nest to caring for the young. While the mother sits on the eggs the father brings her food and water, then, when the babies have pecked their way out of their eggs, the two parents share the feeding of the little ones. At this time, the babies are rather ugly, with bits of bristle and half-formed feathers on their tiny bodies. When the babies are ready to leave the nest, it is a lot of fun to watch them learn from their parents how to fly and eat and where to find water. They grow and learn very quickly and pretty soon they will find a partner of their own and start their own family. They are called Love Birds because once they find a mate it is for life and they like to do everything together. They are very affectionate and spend all day hugging and kissing and feeding each other. They are so close that if one dies usually within a week or so the other dies of sadness, they almost never find another mate. One day a snake got into a nest box with a mother and four babies. He ate the mother and smothered all but one baby. We had never seen anything like it because, out of character, all the birds in the aviary took turns taking care of the baby. They fed him and tried to coax him out of the nest but he did not want to leave. They started putting his food farther and farther from the entrance of the nest. When they finally got him out on to a branch they all stood in a line and tried to teach him how to use his wings. All synchronized they would stretch one wing and then the other while he watched on. He wanted to stay a baby. It looked like a Jane Fonda exercise class to watch. He would get very angry and stomp his feet and scream but the other birds were persistent. They kept moving closer and closer to the food and water trying to get him to care for himself but it was always another temper tantrum. It took him much longer to learn things than the babies with mothers even though all the birds were helping. He finally grew up and learned to do these things himself and then found a partner and started his own family. Besides being very funny to watch, I wanted to put on Jane Fonda Music for them, it is very unusual for this to happen. The father usually tries to take over both roles and is usually quiet successful, but if the baby hadn’t survived the father probably would have died of heart break. They are beautiful and wonderful birds and much more fun to watch the TV. When they are making their nests they take strips of palm branch and stick them in their wings until they can’t carry any more, they do not carry them in their beaks. They look like pretty colored porcupines. Our aviary runs the length of one side of the house so you can watch them while you clean the kitchen or from the bathroom, or of course, from the garden where you will be joined by some curious sparrows and other birds.

Dress for the Occasion

I wish the tourists could see themselves as we see them. It is bad enough to go into the bank and see oversized men in their Speedos and women in tiny summer dresses that look like they were made for their grandchildren, but when you go to have an ice cream or coffee and have to sit in front of a large dimply lady where you see right up her dress to her privates or another woman sat down with the back of her dress stuck on the back of the chair so during your whole coffee all you can see is her back side in a g-string, not a very pleasant sight. I know we all wear T-shirts and swim suits at this time of year but they should stay on the beach or people should take more care of how they sit. It is not just the women. When a big man sits at the table in his Speedo, he leaves little to the imagination but the worst are the men that wear surfer shorts with nothing underneath and then cross their legs while they sip a cool brew. You can see right up the loose leg of the shorts and well you can imagine what you see. I have nothing against the human body, but there is a time and place for everything. I don’t feel the bank or a restaurant is quite the place for this type of attire.