FOR SEQUELThe Continuing Tale of the Fabulously Fantastic Alfa Romeo

It's 1983 and here I am, in Andorra, trying to sell the fabulously fantastic Alfa Romeo. With our imminent departure for the United States, and the upsy downsy interpretations of Spanish regulations, I decided it best to go over the border to try and sell the fabulously fantastic Alfa Romeo. Or, at least get rid of it somehow. Nobody in Andorra wants to buy it from me, not even for parts. I guess I can't blame them. This poor car has a really odd pedigree - an Italian car, manufactured in Brazil for export to Poland.  Somehow, it ended up in Heidelberg, Germany where we purchased it.

I have to think really hard to try and come up with a solution of what to do next. No matter how hard I think, I can't come up with any solution!  In the end, I do what drivers do best - I drive. I just drive up the Pyrenees. Up and up and higher and higher I go.

I climb so high that there is no longer any vegetation. I climb so high that the road peters out to just a goat trail. Oops. I've been thinking so much about what to do with the car that it's  somehow escaped me that I'm driving too high up the mountain.

Now I have another problem to think about - how to get back down the mountain!  The trail is too narrow to do a three point turn. There is no guard rail. The only thing to do - is to reverse down the mountain.

I hug the back of the passenger seat with all the passion and strength of someone about to meet her doom. All the while my neck is twisted, straining to see where I'm going. Where am I going? Down would be good. Over the mountainside down into the valley, not good. Concentrate. Just follow the dirt road, low gear, feet in control, calmly guide the steering wheel.

I try not to look down the mountain into the abyss below. I think of only one thing, reversing down the mountain, however slowly I have to do it. There's nobody around. Imagine if I fall off the mountain?! Who would find me? When would they find me? What about the car? It has come all the way from Brazil to Germany, to Spain, to Andorra. I owe it to make sure it stays in one piece.  Don't I?

Maybe not. Must be the high altitude that's weakening my brain.

I make it far enough down to where the goat trail becomes a sort of a road. Suffice to say, there's enough space if I breathe in, to turn the car around. Not much room for error, but, tired of reversing I figure it's now or never. Three point turn! Here I come! I pull sharply on the wheel, bring the car horizontal, bumper bumping the mountain. Rev up gently, move forward deftly, without zooming over the mountain. Reverse once more, swerving. Let's get the hell out of here!

This Alfa Romeo talks to me. It's been enjoying the drive up the mountain, the exhilaration of the mountain air, the fun of reversing down a mountainous trail, and finally, the thrill of the race downhill. And here was I, not so long ago,  calling it nothing but a pest.

What to do with this fabulously fantastic Alfa Romeo?   TO BE CONTINUED








The Amazingly Atrociously Delightful Indefinite Future in the Subjunctive Mood- Learning Spanish

El Puerto de Santa María, 1972/3


My private Spanish tutor and I don't have any text books.  There are none. Instead of reading a grammar book,  we read newspaper articles together. I read out loud and he corrects my pronunciation. He talks of the present tense and the past tenses, all at the same time. And I've to look for examples in the articles.  He gives me dictations from the newspaper articles and we discuss them. Well, I don't actually, for I'm lost and befuddled.

He also talks of the subjunctive, the future, and the conditional, all at the same time. It's as if the present tense is of little importance. So much for memorizing the present tense of the AR, the ER and the IR verbs!

 I actually love the subjunctive mood in all its complexities. The Spanish language is perplexing and mystifying, intriguing and seductive. When you speak Spanish you have to pretend you're in front of the bravo toro, and give it your all. This is not some  wimpy, insipid manner of communicating, it's a do or die, and somehow you have to get your message out.

The Spanish subjunctive is passionate. When you want someone to do something, you really are commanding them to do it. Quiero que saques la basura. I want you to take out the garbage. When you love something, or hate something, you use the subjunctive. When you doubt something, you use the subjunctive. When you subject your will on that of another, you use the subjunctive. The subjunctive is precisely that - it's subjective.

What I find enticing is the indefinite future of the present subjunctive. It simply has a philosophical ring to it. We don't use this particular subjunctive mood in English for some reason.

When I go to the beach I sing 'Viva España' . In Spanish, is this the subjunctive or the indicative?
When I go to the beach I shall sing 'Viva España'. In Spanish,  is this the subjunctive or the indicative?

Why? Why?

Cuando voy a la playa canto 'Viva España'.
Cuando (yo) vaya a la playa cantaré 'Viva España'.

The first sentence is in the indicative. The second sentence is in the subjunctive. Why? Have you gone to the beach yet? No. You're referring to a future action that has not yet happened. Therefore it's indefinite.

Here's another example.

When I prepare the paella I drink sangría.
When I prepare the paella (on Saturday, as an example, referring to a future date) I shall drink sangría.

Cuando preparo la paella bebo sangría.
Cuando (yo) prepare la paella beberé sangría.

The delightful indefinite future! The amazing and atrocious, the weird and the wonderful, the Spanish indefinite future!

















The Two Colleagues and the Pregnant María del Pilar — Talavera de la Reina, 1980USEFOR EBOOK

1980, Talavera de la Reina

I was teaching English privately in my apartment on the Calle del Prado. One little group was made up of two colleagues who were advanced students of English and who worked together at the Colgate company, just outside Talavera de la Reina. They were always punctual, and always very well dressed, complete with suit, tie and shiny shoes.  They were always very formal and respectful, even using 'usted' with me, despite the fact that we were  around the same age, in our early thirties. They had studied English extensively and were coming to me for conversation. Many times I'd use National Geographic as a way to get them to converse in English.  They thought the articles and photographs fascinating and the quality of the paper outstanding. Sometimes we just chatted about this and that. I always liked the challenge of guiding the conversation and then later of coming up with a spur of the moment dictation based on what we had just been talking about. It was a good way to review new vocabulary words and pertinent grammatical points.
Alejandro, the slightly chubby one with dark curly hair always moved his chair a little bit apart from the other student, Roberto. I sometimes wondered if he were higher up at the company, or if he had more money. Or, maybe he sat apart because he was single and the other one, Roberto, was married with children. In fact, by dint of his being single meant Alejandro did indeed have more discretionary money to spend on himself.
One day, I learned something quite surprising about the two colleagues, something that I've never forgotten and which reveals how they regarded women in 1980 in Talavera de la Reina.
Alejandro announced, "Guess what I'm going to purchase?"
Roberto and I  sat in silence, waiting for some important revelation. What could Alejandro be going to purchase?
"A video cassette recorder." Alejandro beamed, his face literally lighting up as he awaited our reaction.  
"That must cost a fortune!  A video cassette recorder?!" Roberto, who was tall and skinny and who always wore a white shirt was stunned. 
"Yes, it is VERY expensive. It's the latest craze." Alejandro couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear. 
"What are you going to do with this video cassette recorder? What's it for?" Roberto frowned so much his bushy eyebrows came together forming a long fuzzy line of sheer perplexity. "Must be fine for some. My kids need shoes. My wife needs new clothes. I don't have the luxury of buying junk."
Alejandro shifted in his seat and folded his arms. "It's not junk. It's the future. Everybody will have a video cassette recorder one day."
"But what's it for, and how does it work?" Roberto hunched over looking down on Alejandro.
"I don't really know. I think you can look at films." Alejandro laughed and patted Roberto on his arm.
They both looked at me with blank stares as if to ask me, "Do you know how a video cassette recorder works?"
Now, I was and still am technically inept, and I hadn't a clue how to work a V.C.R. I think I had only ever seen one in a magazines. "I think you connect it to your television?"
We sat in silence until Alejandro piped up, "Well, I'm going to buy one anyway. I'll figure it out."
Roberto glared at Alejandro, probably miffed that he could use his pay check to buy something that he  too would like. 
"How are your families?"  I changed the subject, hoping to keep the conversation going in a non-confrontational manner, for normally all my students were happy to talk about their families. 
"My wife is SO jealous. She really is jealous." Roberto bemoaned.
"Why is she jealous?" Alejandro, the V.C.R. Man could hardly get the words out, before he added smugly, "I'm still single. And if I ever get married, well I'm the one who'll be in charge. I wouldn't allow her to be jealous." He slapped his hand on his leg.
"She won't let me go to London! And I should go. Shouldn't I? I mean, how am I to perfect my English?"
V.C.R. Man grinned salaciously. "You want to go to London without your wife? To learn English? Is that all you want to do?" He laughed and added, "I hear Soho is an interesting place!"
"It would just be for a week or two, that's all."
"Even if you were to get up to something in London, your wife still shouldn't complain. She's busy with housework and bringing up the kids, after all."
"I agree! How am I to improve my English? I wouldn't get up to anything, you understand." 
They shrugged their shoulders in unison. Agreement had been met. The wife was indeed jealous, and should let her husband go to London.
"Couldn't you take your wife with you?" What a leading question I asked!
The two men frowned at me.
"She's happier taking care of the house and our children. Anyway, London isn't a place to take your wife!"
"Why not?" I inquired, surprised at his comment about London.
"There's Soho. Places like that. Definitely not somewhere I'd want my wife to be. Absolutely not." Roberto slapped his hand on the table.
I added, "There are lots of places in London. You don't actually have to visit Soho."
My words fell on deaf ears. The conversation wasn't going anywhere at that point. Time to change the topic once more.
"How is work?"  That should keep them speaking English for a while.
"Do you know Maite? " V.C.R. Man addressed his colleague.
"Of course. She's pregnant. Everyone knows about her."
I looked enquiringly at both of them. There must have been some other part to this story about Maite. Why did everyone know her? 
"She's not married!" They both spluttered at the same time. They gesticulated with their hands as if wiping the floor with Maite the pregnant girl. 
"You disapprove?" I asked them.
"Absolutely!" V.C.R. Man had no doubts at all about his disapproval. "She's not married!"  He loosened his tie.
Roberto sat on the edge of his seat and nodded his head in agreement with V.C.R. Man.
"Then, do you disapprove of the man who got her pregnant?" I was genuinely puzzled at their attitude towards the pregnant Maite. 
"What?!  Why would we disapprove of him? " Alejandro's mouth gaped open.
They looked at one another in total shock that someone would even consider that they would disapprove of the man who got Maite pregnant.
"He's a man." Roberto leaned back in his chair. "He's a man."
It was interesting to reflect on how women were treated under Franco's rule in Cadiz,  back in the early seventies. There we were, in 1980, in Talavera de la Reina, and the double standard still existed. Women were supposed to cook, clean, take care of children, and most definitely NOT get pregnant if they were not married. Now, men, of course, without a doubt had their own set of rules.





Who? Me? You? All of us? - Learning Spanish, Part three, El Puerto de Santa Maria, 1972

It's 1972 and I'm living in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz.

I'm chugging along, getting used to not understanding what people are saying to me. I live in a cloud of words whose meanings are punctuated with lively eyes and hands that gesticulate. I try moving my hands, hoping that that will somehow make me understand people better, or that they'll understand me more. But it doesn't help.

It's not just the fact that I don't understand Spanish, it's also that I can't get the few words I know uttered in time before the topic of conversation changes! By the time I've figured out what I want to say, got the nouns and adjectives agreeing, it's already the end of the day and people are off to their beds.

The one BIG faux pas I make is one that is simply not acceptable. Says I, at any rate. I should know better, but I keep making the same error over and over.

Guess what it is?!

I talk to a group of friends and I say, "¿Quieres ir al Bar Central a tomar un cafecito?"

What's wrong with this sentence?

Hmm.

It should be, "¿Queréis ir al Bar Central...." That's if you're using vosotros. If you're being formal or speaking to Latin Americans, you should say, "¿Quieren ustedes ir al Bar Central..."

The point is that the verb should be in the plural for you are talking to more than one person. I'm too busy translating from English into Spanish and I come up with the singular. There is only one 'you' in English, that's why. Och. Who's daft?

I'm sure people are offended that I'm only inviting one of them and not the whole group to the Bar Central. But I don't know enough Spanish to explain why I'm making the mistake, or to quickly form  the correct part of the verb. So, I start gesticulating my hands, hoping that they'll get the idea. While they're gabbing to one another, their fingers dancing in the air, the conversation gets louder and louder, and I end up with a headache.

The good thing is, that we somehow all go to the Bar Central, and, instead of un cafecito, we have a nice wee glass of Tio Pepe. That's when I suddenly burst out with "¿Queréis vosotros ir al Bar Central?"

 I've finally got the verb!

They look at me as if I'm nuts.

"We're already at the Bar Central!"  They all laugh loudly in unison.





Learning Spanish, Part Two - El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain, 1972

1972, El Puerto de Santa Maria.

I have a lovely sharpened pencil and a notebook, and I can't wait for my first Spanish lesson. The doorbell of the apartment rings and I meet my very own personal private tutor for the first time. He's a bit older than me, and a little bit taller. He has a beard and also has very nice teeth.

"Agudas. This word is an aguda". He talks loudly and writes a word in my notebook, then underlines it. "This next word is a llana." He underlines it too. He has a  flair for underlining words. I haven't a clue what he's talking about. It's something to do with accent marks and pronunciation.

I ask him that question that native speakers of English always ask any time they find themselves in a situation requiring even just a rudimentary knowledge of a foreign language, "Do you speak English?"

His eyes twinkle and he grins broadly as he replies, "Why? What difference does it make?"

His English is certainly better than my non-existing Spanish. He reverts back to Spanish with a shrug of the shoulders.

Yikes! This is not going to be easy! I was kind of thinking the lessons would be in English.

"The vowels." He pronounces each vowel precisely and with the energy of someone running to catch a bus. He gets me to pronounce the vowels and the list of words he's already written. Then he talks more about llanas, agudas, and the strange-sounding esdrújulas, and writes umpteen more words. He circles each accent mark, all the while speaking in rapid Spanish. I get the impression that the esdrújula words always have accent marks. You don't have to think too much on how to pronounce them. Not that I really care. But it does seem important.  After all, accent marks help you to correctly pronounce the word. I learn how to pronounce words like, 'loro' which is a llana word. It ends in a vowel, so the natural stress is on the next to the last syllable. The aguda words have the stress at the end. Think of the infinitives - hablar, cantar, perder, vivir, etc.

"Tarea. Homework. Read a newspaper article and circle the llanas, agudas and esdrújulas."

Fantástico! That's all I can say. And that's my esdrújula for today.  I really do love to say the word, 'esdrújula'. It makes me feel as if I'm really speaking Spanish. Another word I fall in love with is, 'desafortunadamente'. What a long word! I go around trying to use my new words any chance I get.

"What time is it?"
"Esdrújula, I don't know."

"Where are you going?"
"Desafortunadamente,.."

I really need to add to my vocabulary list. A conversation using 'esdrújula' and 'desafortunadamente' is somewhat limited and people look at me with great big eyes as if they do not understand a thing I'm saying. It's okay. I don't understand what I'm saying either. I just enjoy the sound of the Spanish vowels. They're short, but powerful, unlike English vowels which sound as if they're whining and running out of steam.  And, my name sounds so important when Spanish people pronounce it.

My very own private tutor of Spanish keeps me focused on the task at hand.

It's back to newspaper articles. No pun intended. He underlines nouns and their articles.
"Each time you learn a new vocabulary word, combine it with an article. That way you'll know the gender."

He recites a list of nouns and tells me to give him the article.
hombre - el hombre
mujer - la mujer
dedos - los dedos
manzanas - las manzanas

"Once you figure out the articles and gender of the nouns, you can add on adjectives."
El hombre gordo.    La mujer alta.     Los dedos largos.  Las manzanas rojas

He taps his pencil on the words. "Don't forget. The 'h' is silent. And, always remember, the 'j' is mas o menos, something  like an English 'h'.  Pronounce the following words:  hola, hombre, jardín, jamón.

He taps his pencil again.  He screws up his face and exaggerates the sound. He really does have lovely teeth.


 TO BE CONTINUED










FOR SEQUELThe Big Fire - Miami Playa,Tarragona, Spain, 1982

It's the early eighties and we're staying in a nice, brand new house in Urbanización el Casalot, Miami Playa, Tarragona.

My husband tells me he saw a fire the other side of the mountains, over by Ascó.

"We should leave. The way the wind is blowing, the fire could reach us."  He announces.

Apparently some little old lady near Ascó has been burning olive branches.

"But, Ascó is far away from where live. So, we should be fine, shouldn't we?" says I.

 Famous last words.

The next morning, at around five a.m. my husband wakens me.
"The fire has spread. Look!   It's already this side of the mountains."
"Och, don't be daft. It's still far away.What a pest for waking me. I'm going back to sleep."

Just call me a grumpy grump first thing in the morning.

Later that day the fire gets closer and closer. The wind is howling spreading ash, embers,  and smoke in random patterns. The road from our house to the main coastal road is basically impassable as bushes and branches, all burning, blow in every direction.

The German man who owns the swimming pool and restaurant near our house is trying to control the flames with branches. My husband joins him as do other men. Whole trees crackle loudly as they go up in flames. In the darkness it looks as if there is nothing but flames and embers. We inhale smoke and ash.

Does anybody else know what's going on here? Is it just us, the people who live here, fighting the fire? How do we get help? We have no telephone. There is no line here at El Casalot, Miami Playa. There's simply no way to contact others.

Fortunately, our house is made of brick, and there's a brick wall around it, otherwise it could possibly go up in flames.

In the daytime you can see stretches of grass that have been burned and charred, and then other sections that are pristine, as if there has been no fire at all. We wonder about the wildlife, if any birds or animals were killed. We wonder about the people and marvel at the fact that it seems as if nobody has been hurt.  The wind starts up again blowing the embers in all directions.

The Guardia Civil turn up and tell us to leave. There are planes in the sky depositing water.

We get into our cars, complete with a budgie, a cat, and our small son and zig zag down the road intent on avoiding burning debris.

Who would have thought that the fire could spread all the way from Ascó, over the mountains, and over the autopista, down to where we live?!
















The Dogs - 1975 El Puerto de Santa Maria

It's 1975 and we're living on the Avenida de las Galeras, Valdelagrana, El Puerto de Santa Maria.

Across the road is a wasteland where the wild dogs roam. They come by in packs each day at roughly the same time. I'm not afraid of them, however, for they ignore me. They seem more intent on their wanderings and staying in a pack, their noses sniffing the ground as opposed to checking out the humans on the other side of the road.

The dogs who live with people are regarded as guardians of property, and not as pets. They're tied up in their yards all day and bark like crazy anytime you walk by. They look ferocious, ready to bite.

It's common to see stray dogs just lying on the pavement underneath a tree. They sleep all day and don't bother anyone. Even when someone throws a stone at them or kicks them, they don't fight back, they just remain motionless. Perhaps there's nowhere to run to. And the people who abuse them are the very ones who feed them, so they might as well remain.

One day I'm out walking and come across a box on the pavement. I look inside and discover a puppy. He's been abandoned, just simply dumped.  I pick the puppy up and take him home.

He's friendly and cute and cuddly. Someone obviously has been feeding him, so I don't think he was too long in the box when I found him. My husband welcomes the puppy who adapts very well to life in our house. I buy him a nice collar and leash from the American Naval Base and take him walks. I get him food from the American Naval Base as well. I don't think there are any pet shops here in El Puerto de Santa Maria. Pets that people have are usually birds. You see lots of small cages at the side of houses and you hear the birds sing and chirp. But people don't generally have dogs and cats as pets.

Our house has a small garden enclosed by a wall and railings. It's a safe place to put the puppy, for he's too small to climb up on the wall. To be doubly sure, I tie him up with a great big long rope.

One day, a month or so later I notice the rope has become loose and the puppy is free to do whatever he wants. He's big enough to climb on the wall, yet still small enough to squeeze through the railings and escape. He doesn't do anything. He's happy in his own little world. He knows that he'll have food, water, a nice warm bed, lots of petting. He wags his tail as I approach him.

He never tries to get away, never even peeks out through the railings, so I stop tying him up.

One late afternoon, after cooking dinner, I step outside into the garden. The puppy is gone. He's vanished. I call his name, and I whistle. I open the garden gate and run one way, then another, all the time yelling his name. But he's not to be seen.

He doesn't come back. My husband and I eat dinner in silence. I know it's my fault the puppy is gone. I should have tied him up.

We've heard of the gypsies who roam around. People say that they steal babies. But I don't think they steal dogs. I don't believe a gypsy would have taken the puppy. We search the neighbourhood, ask neighbours if they've seen our puppy, all to no avail.

The next day the pack of wild dogs appears across the road, just as they always do. They're large, ungainly, ugly dogs. Coming up on the rear is a small, cute little dog. It's our puppy!  I call out to him, I run across the road to pick him up and cuddle him. The pack of wild dogs, circle me and sniff at me. They don't growl, they don't bark, they simply stand their ground. I'm in their territory and I better leave. The puppy watches their every move.

And as they walk away, he follows them.







Learning Spanish - Part One

It's September, 1972, and I've just arrived in El Puerto de Santa Maria to teach in a bilingual school.

In the mornings I teach English to four year old Spanish children. In the afternoons I teach elementary subjects to children aged 5 to 9 who are native speakers of English.

Here's the problem. I don't know any Spanish. I have heard of the expression, 'Adios amigo', but that's it for my knowledge of Spanish.  Even my students who are native speakers of English know more Spanish than me. Everyone knows more Spanish than me. And my four year old pupils speak up in indignation each time I mispronounce their names. I, in my ignorance, at times think they're the ones making mistakes. "Federico? Shouldn't it be Frederico?" I actually think his name is misspelled on the roster.

"Senorita, mi nombre es FEDERICO!" He has his hands on his hips as he tells me off.

Time to do something about this appalling lack of knowledge on my part. It's time to learn Spanish.

I learned French in school, so that should help, shouldn't it? At least I'm familiar with conjugating verbs.

Someone, through the grapevine, as the saying goes, recommends this guy who tutors daft folk like me. He'll be my private tutor. How posh is that?! TO  BE  CONTINUED





FOR SEQUELWhat Nudist Beach?! Miami Playa, Tarragona, Spain, 1981

Summer, 1981, and my son and I are cycling down to the pool at Urbanizacion el Casalot, Miami Playa, Tarragona. We haven't been living here long. What do we notice lying on a wall?  A cute little stray kitten. He's black and white and looks up hopefully at us as we pass by. We just have to go over and pet him.

He's so happy. He purrs and smiles at us. Well, that's us hooked. I knock on the door of the house whose wall he's lying on in case he actually does belong to someone. Turns out the lady of the house is the owner of the house we're renting. She's Italian and the house she's living in just now is this huge mansion. It's just her little summer getaway residence. She's been taking care of the kitten, but is returning to Italy soon and doesn't want to take it with her.

Guess what?  We get the kitten. Off we go home and present him to my husband who is a real cat lover. We decide to call the kitten, Tom Sawyer. Tom for short. Anyhow, we have lots of fun playing with him. After a few days, we figure we can let him outside for a little bit as he'll know that this is his home.

Well, the most awful thing happens.

We have these really noisy, kind of obnoxious neighbours who are originally from Madrid. I can never keep track of how many people are actually living in the house. The wife of the man whom I guess is the one renting the house beams at me over the wall separating our two houses.

"Senora. Look what I found!"  She points to a black and white kitten. She picks him up and starts to cuddle him. "He just suddenly appeared in my garden. I've always wanted a cat.  I think I'll call him, Juan."

Oh no! That's my Tom Sawyer!  I almost yell the words like some crazy lunatic. He's mine! I did see him first and he's already settling in. Besides my husband and son have both taken a liking to him.

"He's actually our cat. I found him the other day lying on a wall."

"What do you mean? If he's your cat then he shouldn't be in my garden!"

She practically throws Tom to the ground. Her husband appears and pats her on the shoulder.

"Come on, my love. There are lots of stray cats. You can get another one."

She glares at me, then him, and then me again.

"I guess you're right." She reluctantly agrees.

He squeezes her and says, "Of course, I am. Now let's go to the nudist beach. That always makes you feel good."










FOR SEQUELThe Continuing Tale of the Fabulously Fantastic Alfa Romeo, 1983

It's 1983 and we're living in Urbanizacion el Casalot, Miami Playa, Tarragona.

The Alfa Romeo is sitting in the driveway. With so much red tape anything's possible, even a new deadline for when I have to pay the fine. Ha ha. Come to think on it, what will happen after I pay the bloody fine? Maybe I still won't be allowed to drive this fancy car with the odd pedigree?

This Alfa Romeo is nothing but a real pest. I did do what I was told to by the Customs in Tarragona, which was to take the car over the border every six months. I should have got the Tarragona Customs man's statement in writing!

In the meantime, now we find out that we're moving to the United States in a matter of weeks.  Oh?  Things change around here from day to day. What to do about the car? We don't want to take it with us. That would be even more red tape.

Finally, after cogitating and ruminating and speculating, I come up with a plan.Guess what I do?

I drive the Alfa Romeo to Andorra. I time the trip so that I arrive on the border during siesta time. That way, the customs people are usually snoozing and won't even look twice at me or my car. I breeze through customs and over the border into Andorra.

It's time to get rid of the car. Surely somebody will buy it? I go to one taller, workshop, and ask if they'd like to buy a nice Alfa Romeo car.

    "Where the heck was your car built, lady?  The parts aren't even Italian!"
I go to another taller, and another, and another.

     "Lady, this is the strangest Italian car I've ever seen. We can't even use it for parts. Who built it? Where?"

     "I could maybe rent it to foreigners. They drive anything.  But, no. I can't use it, sorry."

So much for the swanky Alfa Romeo!  It had indeed been manufactured in Brazil for export to Poland, and had somehow made its way to Germany. But, so what? It's still an Alfa Romeo, isn't it?

Nobody wants my car.           TO BE CONTINUED