The novelty of camping in our new home ended the moment the builders arrived.
Up until that point we’d been coping well; it was basic living, but we were managing. Within days of their starting work, the whole house looked like a building site and nowhere was spared the thick covering of dust, rubble and broken plaster.
Living with a carpet of dust and filth was bad enough but to add insult to injury the weather took a turn for the worse. Late autumn’s balmy days vanished overnight replaced with the first icy blasts of winter. This would not have been a problem if we had had a hermetically sealed home, proper heating. But we were living in a house that had none; only a gaping hole that lacked a door and ancient windows, many which had no glass in them.
The morale of Camp Nevin fell to an all time low. Surrounded by chaos, freezing cold, no hot water, washing facilities or kitchen I burst into tears. What the hell had I been thinking? I then thought of all the people in the world who have nothing, whose daily lives are a struggle with disaster. The Syrian refugees, those unfortunate people in the Philippines whose lives had been devastated by a typhoon, I thought ‘Pull yourself together, get on with it Mrs.’
Over the following weeks I held this sobering thought in my head as things slowly began to take shape in the house. Early one afternoon, I heard Miguel our electrician shouting from upstairs. He’d been chasing new wiring into a wall in one of the bedrooms and he had found something. Thinking the worst, I ran upstairs to see what had happened. Miguel pointed to a large hole in the wall and then made the sign of the cross. ‘Oh Lord’ I thought to myself, ‘he’s trying to tell me that we have a major problem’. Miguel put his hand deep inside the wall and pulled out a black crucifix and three religious statues, each about 22 inches tall. My fears were replaced with curiosity.
Miguel didn’t want anything more to do with the icons. It was clear from his expression that he felt that he’d inadvertently uncovered something that was not meant to have been found. There was only one thing to do, go and seek advice from Paco and Antonia.
Antonia poured me a glass of sherry and bought out some tapas. ‘What’s been happening my friend’ she asked. I told her about Miguel’s discovery and her face lit up. Seconds later she was on the phone calling Antonio and Anna (the previous owners of our house) The glass of sherry had hardly touched my lips when Antonio’s and Anna’s car pulled up beside the bar. It was clear that whatever had been uncovered was the cause of much intrigue and excitement.
Antonia, Antonio, Anna and a few other interested folks came back with me to the house. Lots of excited talking ensued, followed by furrowed brows. What did this mean? Where had they come from? I was hoping that Antonio and Anna would have the answer but alas they were as perplexed as I was. Anna spotted a small pile of photographs and papers that Irishman and I had previously unearthed from various cupboards and drawers on our arrival. She sifted through them and told me that one of the pictures was of a famous healer who had performed miracles in this area. My Spanish was not good enough to understand whether she meant that the healer had actually lived in our house but I did take it as something of a miracle that the week before I’d taken the saucy photos of naked girls, legs akimbo, out of the found stash. Anna would have been mortified.
Everyone wanted to know what we were going to do with the mysterious icons? I went back to the bar to finish my sherry and ponder on what to do.