SUMMER – VERANO 2021

It’s only now that I have uploaded the photos onto the PC that I realise I haven’t been writing my blog for quite some time; since April in fact.

There are a few reasons for that.

Firstly, being a teenager-in-reverse means a lot of mood swings and a grumpy author is not the best starting point. With it come lack of sleep and therefore unfocused mind and a general feeling of malaise.

But never mind that, the sun shines brightly and it is a natural condition to be dealt with as best as one can, hand over the G&T…..

Then I have taken to updating my status on Whatsapp frequently with a nice photo, as a snapshot what happens here.

Not to forget the football season, as then my laptop is used to transmit the matches and therefore out of bounds for me in the evenings.

And since May we are blessed with a rotation of guests streaming in and out.

In fact, after the quiet 2020 we had thanks to the draconian Corona-restrictions, it is difficult for me to adjust to sharing our home again with people, be they strangers, friends or neighbours. But this is how we make money and there is a great deal of excitement and satisfaction in it.

Enough of the excuses; now it’s time for another episode of ‘Life at Finca Casa Halcon’.

Manfred and Angelina – Beware of the Scammers

Most guests are nice, respectful that this is our home and easy going. And then there is the other type. And this is the other reason I kept stumm, as I had to get over the shock of being conned out of €300.

In May I got simultaneously a last-minute booking literally, as the Spanish couple arrived half an hour later, hungry and needing to be fed, and a phone call from as it turned out a young German couple needing a bed for the night. They had no car so Nigel, ever eager to please, went to collect them in Almonte. Alas, he couldn’t find them and returned a bit put out. In the meantime I had several calls from them, Manfred and Angelina, quite agitated. In the end they took a taxi.

The minute they arrived, the drama began. They had been robbed on the train from Barcelona to Almeria, passport, credit card and mobile phone. Still, they pre-paid the night and their meal in cash. We got a barrage of stories about his wanderings around the world, apparently 47 countries and how this never happened before, blablabla. He told us about his job in tourism in Germany and we connected on Facebook, where I could see all his posted photos of his journey, videos with music etc.

They wanted to stay another night, but I just could not put up with more stories and this intensiveness. They wanted to travel on to Portugal as they had rented an apartment somewhere near Faro. So I put them on the bus the next day, being proud of me enforcing my boundaries.

On Saturday while I made lunch I received a phone call, again a Spanish number, from those two begging me to help them. They had no money left, nobody was helping them, not the police, the banks, the Money Union Transfer. They suggested their family could transfer money into my account and I give them the cash. Well, what was I to do? Leave them to their mercy? At any rate I was booked out and they had to sleep in their tent. I went to collect them, gave them €50 to buy food and a phone card. In the evening I received the email with a photo of the money transfer form with all details filled in.

Then I booked them a bus ticket to Sevilla, because from there they could go either way to Malaga or Madrid, where there actually is a German embassy to sort out the lost passports, but maybe that was a lie, well spun with all the details how Manfred went to the police to file a report of the theft.

I brought them to the bus station on Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday I received a messenger sms that they are on their way to Madrid and I also saw a video footage on facebook taken on a bus, over an hour long.

Since the Monday was a Pentecostal holiday in Germany I was not too concerned about the money transfer until the Friday. I tried to contact him via facebook messenger but – but I was blocked from his facebook account.

I went into his facebook through Nigel’s and there he still was, but all the previous posts since June 2020 were taken down. How very strange and discomfiting. There was obviously something wrong going on. The following Monday I made it my business to phone up the bank in question to ask about the transfer, but got nowhere. Only on the Friday I finally made contact with a nice person, who told me not to expect any money, as the emailed filled out form was no proof. I also tried to find out about the company he claimed to work for and they did not know a person by that name.

So it all turned out to be a very well executed scam. Or maybe I am just astonishingly gullible, naive and trusting. However, I will not just let it go and filed a report with the police in Germany and also added his and her name to a German facebook site (!Vorsicht Betrueger!) for scammers, just in case they continue to finance their tour of Europe through swindling money of others.

In the meantime the idiot has been posting again on his public facebook page and below it is a long rant from a fuming Portuguese lady, who apparently put them up for four days, she being out of money and sick, and they just run away. But one day they will get their comeuppance and karma is a wonderful thing.

New and shady Car Port

Since the lemon tree had to be chopped off to make space for the concrete lorry, we now had the space to erect a car port. Temperatures can go up to 40 degrees Celsius and are over 30 degrees for at least 5 months, so having a bit of shade is essential, if you want to be able to touch the steering wheel.

Nigel constructed the frame with nine uprights and cross beams and we covered it with a mat of cañas, reeds which we purchased at the local builders yard. It works a treat and hopefully the Passionflower plant will make its way up it.

Czech Invasion

Our international guests are back in full force. We had a French lady mad into horse riding, a Belgian documentary maker, an English couple looking for a patch of Andalusian soil and five Czechs, who are also all into horse breeding and love my food.

This last week we had seven people staying, lots of breakfasts, innumerable cups of coffee and some lunches to provide. We will be happy to see them again some time.

Peafowl Chicks

I am for the birds, but that’s not really news. I am now the proud owner of four cute pea chicks, pavo reales, but I have no idea whether they are male peacocks or female peahens, only time will tell. I adore their little heads with their black beady eyes, long elegant necks and the little crown of feathers that is just forming.

As small as they are, nearly from birth they can fly, and if they get a fright they will, which is astonishing.

It will take three months before I can let them out of the hen house, so the dogs won’t take them for dinner and two years before they become adults, four years before the long vibrant tail feathers will develop, in case I have a (male) peacock.

I have learned a lot about these wild birds with their haunting cries. For example, they only lay up to 20 eggs once a year.

Peafowl are not only beautiful, they are also useful. They will control vermin like rats and mice, snakes, reptiles, insects and bugs like ants, ticks, fleas and snails, etc.

They will also function as an alarm system in addition to our dogs.

As we can already hear peacocks not far away and there is a breeder down the road, our neighbours should be fine with the noise they will make in time.

I don’t mind the strange noises they make, the screams, honks, squawk and cries. To me it’s a sound of the wild, evocative of castles and the wonderful Peacock Island, with 67 ha, in Berlin, where my mum brought me often as a child. My brother even worked for a while on this small island as a gardener. It is a most romantic place with a mock castle, statues, peacocks strutting, an old dairy, and a rose garden.

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