Paco seemed most amused at being the bearer of bad news. He watched the shock on our faces as our eyes scanned the empty parking spot where the car had previously stood. He started laughing, a raucous, great belly laugh. ‘Oh dear’ he said, wiping the tears from his eyes ‘You’d better follow me’. Out in the street there was a group of men standing around a small green car. As we approached, they stopped their animated conversation and turned to look at us. We’d been in the village less than 24 hours and already got our selves in trouble. ‘Paco, what’s going on? I asked ‘Where is our car?’ Paco pointed down the street and there was the Citroen casually leaning against a bent, metal bar, the only thing preventing it from plummeting down several meters of rock and hillside. It didn’t take much to work out that on its short, unmanned journey, it had come into contact with the small car that was the centre of so much attention.
‘You bloody fool, Irishman! Didn’t you put the handbrake on?’ ‘Yes! Of course I did, come and have a look’ ‘I’m blaming this on your father, Lottie. We never had problems with the handbrake before’ he cursed as we walked down to our car followed by Paco and the group of men. Sure enough the handbrake was on so it was a mystery as to how the car had managed to roll away and get us into all this trouble. The men helped push the car off the railings and then we walked back to where the green, wreck of a motor was parked sideways on to the road. There was much pointing to various bumps, knocks and scratches on the car, all of which seemed like old injuries to Irishman and me. ‘Whose car is it Paco?’ I asked. Manolo stepped forward and introduced himself. In rapid Spanish he started firing off a load of figures. 200 Euros here, another 100 Euros there, all the while pointing to the car and rubbing his hands in glee ‘You see it’s my brothers car and he won’t be happy about this, not one bit’. At this point Antonia came out from the bar to see what all the fuss was about. ‘Nonsense!’ she said ‘This car has always looked terrible, Manolo you can’t expect our new neighbours to have to pay for damage that’s already been there, you are making a fuss about a few scratches’ and with that she did one of those shrugs that I so admire and walked back into the bar to get on with her work.
When in Spain, do as the Spanish do. Irishman and I decided that our best course of action was delay any promise of money, or talk of insurance men until the following day when we’d had a chance to think about it. We thanked Paco and made our apologies to Manolo adding that we’d talk more about the car with him ‘manyana’. We’ve discovered since living here that ‘manyana’ is a most excellent delaying tactic and can be applied to anything and everything. It is also happens to be the most frustrating word in the Spanish dictionary especially when spoken from the lips of builders, plumbers and electricians. ‘Manyana’ does not necessarily mean tomorrow. At best it can be a stretch of many days, at worst, never.