Many months ago a German drew level with us on the mountain road out of a nearby village, Montejaque – quite a feat. He kept up for several bends, and seemed to be saying something so eventually I wound down the window. Turns out one of our rear wheels was coming off. This was the start of a long, ongoing, car care program at Jose Miguel’s workshop on one of the village’s upper streets. The various jobs – adjusting the headlights to point right, not left, scraping off rust, making it go – have an interval for lunch, and, during one, Dave ambled to the far end of a dead end lane leading up from the main square and then dropping down and, on the final crag, spotted a house with a Se Vende sign.
He came back very animated, and so I went with him to take a look from the outside. It looks almost Greek with its Aegean blue doors and windows, and stands on a rocky base looking out over the valley. Immediately below the terrace there are prickly pears, a small-holding and a braying donkey, and above it, a rocky hill. The fig beams of the terrace had rotted, as had one of the doors, but it still looked interesting and ergo, unaffordable.
We called the agent in Ronda who told us it was a bank repossession, being sold for €35,000, which was confusing news. A bank repossession, a house that someone else had lost? But €35,000? A village house . . . but on its own facing nothing but national parkland? Montejaque . . . but near Zahara. Smallish . . . but big enough.
I listed the factors for and against on my whiteboard and got on with other stuff. The idea of a house, any house, even the wrong house in the long term took root, and so with a mix of relief and resignation we toasted our decision, planned where we’d put the furniture, and decided to stick with a blue, but maybe go for a more Nordic, cooler shade, and called the agent to arrange a viewing.
‘Sorry,’ she said, ‘It’s sold.’