Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Madwoman of Carantoña, or how Camelia's Babies Found Homes...

Where to start?

When I left Marbella, I had to find a home for Ruby, my lop-eared rabbit, with whom I had frequently learned humility (rabbits are the most misunderstood animals in the world)and frequently cursed for over four years, especially after the last of my ADSL cables got chewed in half!

But I missed her.

In addition to the donkey next door at A Caso do Raposito in Carantona, there appeared some hens and five rabbits. Then four rabbits, then three ... well you get the idea. Rabbit is a delicacy here in Galicia.

Finally we were down to one white rabbit with skew-wop ears and pink eyes who had become my special friend. I went away to Malaga.I said to my daughter: “If she is still there when I get back I am going to ask Alberto if I can buy her and maybe keep her where she is, with the hens.”

Well, guess what? I approached Alberto: “Don’t laugh,” I said (he did; totally cracked up), “but I would like to buy this rabbit, as a pet.” When he had straightened up, he said: “Ay mujer. Es un regalo!” (She’s a gift.) Camelia – for her pink eyes: the flor de Galicia - became mine.

All well and good until three days later she began to tear out chunks of fur: “She is making a nest,” said Alberto: “I think she is pregnant”.

Sure enough, on St.Paddy’s Day there is not one rabbit there are .... many squirmy little things under the fur and hay nest.
When I approached Alberto with certain concerns, he shrugged his shoulders: “They’re yours now,” he said.

What can I say? Like a proud Grandmommarabbit , I waited for them to look less like foetuses and more like rabbits (mice actually); I couldn’t wait for them to open their eyes! And when “Harris”, my favourite, (a little brown and white guy with great markings and an adventurous spirit – I like that in a rabbit) was the first to put his head out of the nesting box – you can imagine how my heart beat with pride.

In the last week, they have become a bit a nuisance to Camelia who clearly is a Feminist rabbit. They have started to eat “grelos” (Galician cabbages, which is a good thing because here we grow little else) and my nightly carrots and apple are a big hit. So, Mama is no longer necessary and waiting for a reprieve.

“I think it is time for them to have new homes,” I said to Balbina, Alberto’s mom, yesterday.

Now, first I have to explain: as far as Alberto was concerned they were no concern of his. But, Balbina is a Gallego widow. She dresses in Black. And (forgive me but I must) she knows the value of a buck.

I should have seen it coming: “The mother is yours, of course,” she said, “but the babies are mine. Soon we will take them from her and fatten them up with corn.”

“To eat?” I said. It was probably rhetorical. It was certainly pre-hysterical.

Si!” said Balbina, rubbing her substantial tummy. “Y muy ricos!”They were going to take my babies and ......ay que no puede ser...!
I want to buy them,” I said trying to keep the tears from my eyes. OK, so it was a bit impulsive.

Pues...” said Balbina suddenly turning into Shylock: “they are worth 6 euros a kilo when they are grown.”

A kilo ... oh my! Pass me the smelling salts!

“I’ll give you 10 euros each,” I said. “Eighty euros for all of them.” Meanwhile my other self was saying: “Are you MAD!!!?”

“I’ll have to talk to Alberto,” was the reply and sure enough, a half an hour later I had legal ownership of all eight of the rabbits I had formerly worried about finding homes for!

Today, I took the whole rabbit kit and caboodle to Santiago de Compostela. They stayed in the car park while I went to mass, but then I skrewed up my courage and retrieved them. “Where shall we go?” I asked them.

By that time, the cathedral steps were almost empty. I walked for a time realising that people were attracted to the sign but that no-body had` tried to wrest the cat carrier full of conejitos from my grasp. I chose a space where the two main streets divide in the old town. I sat....

For two minutes! I attracted a crowd. “Ayyyy! Que bonitos son...” and she took Harris, my favourite; the only male and the only one I had named.
WELL! If I could only do a book signing with this success. At one time there were two women arguing over which white ones to take. “Ayyyyyy. Que preciosa!,” she looked at her husband/partner. “Podemos...?”“Si te quieres.....”Finally, there was one white one left. The rest had `gone in under 30 minutes complete with my favourite shoes’ boxes (my beautiful and expensive Georges Reichs are now desnudo in the closet). One lovely gay waiter finally gave in: “I had to wait for my break,” he said. “Ayyyyyyy, que preciosa!” He gave me my only donation: Five euros .(I didn’t really press the point).

40 minutes, no mas!!! I had made the reverse of an investment by 5 euros. And I could not have been happier if I tried!!! Eight baby rabbits with homes; eight people really happy with their new pets. If there was money in this I might throw over the writing game and...

People were SO grateful when I wanted to be so grateful to them, for restoring my faith in humanity and reminding me that not EVERYONE licks their lips when they see rabbits. The horror on their faces when I pointed out the part on the sign which said: “No somos para comer” (we are not for eating) reminded me that some creatures – maybe just the cute ones, I don’t know – are just untouchable when it comes to butchering and eating.

What a great way to spend Easter Sunday!

But Camelia’s sex life is OVER!!!

There is now a pig next door... I have given him a name too. It is “Roast”.

Nunca Mais!!! Galego por: Never Again!


  1. I am happy the bunnies found good homes, but I can´t believe your neighbors would rip you off like that!

  2. I don't think it was so much a rip off, more a misunderstanding. After all, it was I who offered to buy them and I set the price. I got Camnelia for free; maybe I wouldn't have got her at all had Balbina and Alberto known she was about to pop! You live in the country too. You know that animals have a worth but it is generally en dinero and these rabbits were no exception. To me they were the little ones I had raised, cuddled and cooed over. To Balbina they were potential meat! I am sure that I have got a reputation now as an eccentric but ...better they find out now than later!
    The new owners were happy, I was happy, the bunnies were happy, and even Camelia is happy now that she has her cage back. All-in-all, a very Happy Easter.
    Next is to improve her little life a bit. I shall be introducing her to "meadow" a bit later this week. Now to go buy some chicken wire ... It's a busy life.

  3. OOf! I just read the stuff on CSJ on the last 'Little Fox' thread. I won't trudge through all the dross there, but this is just to say I stand with your supporters. Sad that people should have to rally round you - it shouldn't be necessary. There are it seems unpleasant people lurking around anonymously on CSJ. Surprised at JW. I wouldn't mind reading open criticism, but some just won't do that.
    I used to be on the forum till I got kicked off. I've done around 8ish various caminos, starting 1992ish so I have to laugh at the pettiness.It wasn't like that in my young day LOL!! The more I read the more I think they did me a favour in shoving me off.

    Even then don't drop them. Unless you have another means of telling pilgs you're there. That other UK camino forum is one place (tho' it's feeble). If you have a friend who is beginning the camino far away in France or Spain, a leaflet for each albergue might be useful? I do my hosp. thing in France on the Vezelay route,but that's too far away to be useful to many, tho' some go to SDC. I'll tell the right folk of you by word next April. This is too long; forget the detail, I support you as many do. Thats the main thing.