La Leña – In Three Acts

We don’t need air conditioning in Galicia. Sure, there can be hot days. But, for the most part it’s between 70 and 80 degrees fahrenheit, or 21-27 celsius in summer. Very pleasant. So, no A/C in our future, which is nice since we ran ours non-stop in Valencia for 6 months out of the year. It was humid, even days when it wasn’t miserably hot during the edge season in May or October. The A/C took the edge off.

But it does get cold here on the farm, and we need to ensure that we have redundant systems to keep us toasty during what will be a long Galician winter coming very soon. Now that we’re past the summer solstice, the days are progressively getting shorter. This means we must start thinking about firewood and getting it into the shed so it has time to dry out before bad weather arrives with cold winds. It’s exactly what we did when we lived in Snoqualmie. Four cords of wood delivered by truck every summer.

Getting firewood here isn’t quite as easy as in the US. There, we had multiple websites we could consult to arrange delivery. Here, it seems Wallapop is our best bet from an internet marketplace perspective. But, we have found in Galicia that usually it’s best to just start keeping our eyes out for a hand written sign. It could be anywhere. Then take a photo and WhatsApp the number to get whatever the service is that we require. Heck, it’s how we bought this house. So when we saw the firewood sign during a long walk into Melide, I took the photo and added it to my list.

Act I – Kelli

**Me via WhatsApp

Buenos Dias – (The rest I did via Google Translate in Spanish) – I apologize for my Spanish. I saw your sign regarding firewood on the way into Melide. We would like to understand if you have any wood available for delivery, and also the price and size per shipment. We would like to arrange a delivery soon so it has time to dry before winter. Thank you – Kelli

I waited a day. Nothing. Then my phone rang. I answered and tried my best. The guy hung up. Then it rang again. Same thing. Then it rang again, and again, and again. I stopped answering. I knew it was the wood guy but we couldn’t seem to communicate effectively. So I wrote it off. I would need to use Wallapop and their messaging feature to get wood delivered. I decided the sign guy wasn’t going to pan out. But then…

Act II – Paco

**This is Jeff’s imaginings of how this happened.

Paco – the wood guy – walks into a bar. He sits down and the bartender serves him a cerveza – his usual drink. His comrades are all gathered round – as usual, for an evening after a hard days work. He takes a sip and listens to his friends rehash the latest Eurocup 2020 match, and how Spain is going to crush the rest of the remaining field. Glory will be theirs! His friend comes over to chat.

‘Que tal?’ He asks Paco.

Paco frowns. ‘I could use some money. My wife is nagging me we need a new sofa. And it’s been raining cats and dogs, so nobody is calling me. The wood business is down right now.’

His friend nods. He knows how the weather can impact cash flow.

‘I did have this one message. From someone who doesn’t speak Spanish and I tried to call her a million times but every time we can’t understand each other. I have no idea who she is but, I think, she wants to get some wood delivered. ‘

His friend listens, and then he has an idea.

‘I bet it’s the Americans.’

Paco seems skeptical ‘The Americans? How do you know?’

‘She doesn’t speak Spanish well. And everyone knows where they live. It’s the the white house on the right. Down that road after the village. Tonio and his wife saw them at their hardware store in Palas last week. And my wife saw her at the medical center. She said the woman looked confused, but nice enough. The husband doesn’t talk, at all. I drove them home in my taxi a month ago. Go there. You’ll see.’

Paco takes a drink of his beer. Interesting. ‘But what if it isn’t them?’

His friend pats him on the back. ‘I guess you’ll find out. And if it is them, you can buy your wife the new sofa.’

Act III – Paco and Kelli (and Manuel)

This morning I was up early, and got a bunch of stuff done, including turning my composter, and riding my recumbent on the trainer on the front patio. Pilgrims waved from the gate and we exchanged ¡Holas!. I have a bunch of stuff to do today, including getting all my paperwork organized with my new filing cabinet. A slice of heaven.

I was just getting started when there was a knock at the door. It was either Amazon or my neighbor, Carmen, delivering weekly vegetables from her garden. I opened the door and swiftly realized it was neither. A short, bald man stood twenty feet from the door, launching into a furious string of Spanish. But in the midst of all that, I heard la Leña – Firewood. This was the guy. I was pretty sure.

‘Si. Si. Si’ I said, grabbing a mask from the entry table and crossing the porch. Mr. Sir didn’t bother to stir from his bed on the patio chair. Wood doesn’t interest him. I, again, explained that I speak little español, but if he went slowly I could keep up.

He nodded, then said the same thing he had said before. Just as fast.

I decided to go another way and ask the price and the amount of wood. I know how to do that. But he didn’t seem to understand. Then he turned and motioned to his friend, Manuel, who was standing outside the gate by the car. I was hopeful Manuel had a little ingles, but when he arrived he too only spoke Spanish. Luckily, he was able to do it in smaller chunks, and slow enough for my brain to process them.

We went back and forth. I escorted them to the wood shed to show them what we needed. They gave me a price and told me they could be here to deliver on Friday morning. They will do one load and see how much it fills up the shed. Then we will determine if further loads are needed. They quoted me a price I would have been thrilled to pay in the US. All of this before Jeff was up and out of bed. I am on fire today.

I put my hand down so you can see the scale of how big these are.

As a bonus, Manuel advised me that the mushrooms near my wood shed are delicious and I should pick them and cook them up for lunch. Gift with purchase.

The End

I came back into the house as Jeff was coming down the stairs.

‘I heard voices out the window.’ Rubbing his eyes. ‘Who was that? I only have one thing outstanding from Amazon, and it won’t be here for weeks. Or was it Carmen?’ Craning around me looking for a box of vegetables.

‘Neither.’ I told him. ‘That was the firewood guy. He just showed up and knocked on the door.’

Jeff looked confused. ‘I thought you couldn’t communicate with him. How did he know where we live?’

‘I have no idea. I sent him that one WhatsApp message and he tried to call me a thousand times, but we could barely get past Buenos Dias. I guess he decided to swing by.’

‘You didn’t give him our address?’ He seemed concerned.

‘No. Just my first name.’

Jeff laughed. ‘I’ll tell you what happened.’ and he proceeded to make up that little bar interaction, which is likely not far off the mark in our little community. So La Leña is on the way. We are assured of being warm and cozy this winter, even without power or sun on the solar panels. And we’ll have fresh mushroom stroganoff for lunch. A delicious way to start the day.

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