A storm in a tea cup.

Theresa phoned me at lunchtime, all upset because Helen was upset. It turned out that Helen had been working on the steps outside the house when one of the neighbours came along. Now the neighbour is deaf and Helen’s Spanish is still limited, so obviously there was a good chance of a misunderstanding. But the neighbour appeared to be saying that the girls had to allow tractors to get past the place where Helen was building the steps, or they might get a whopping fine.

Not speaking the local language is stressful at the best of times. Being told you’re going to wind up in court for a crime you only half understand is guarenteed to send anyone’s blood pressure up. And there are two people who own land they have to access via my friends’ land, although they’re not currently farming any of it. So did I happen to know the Spanish law on access to farm land? There was no mention onthe house deeds, and they couldn’t think of anyone else to ask.

I don’t know spit about Spanish law, but I pointed out that you couldn’t have got a tractor down there before they started work. So I phoned the previous owner of the house who pointed out that:
a) Nobody has ever taken a tractor down there. Ever.
b) If you did get the tractor down, you couldn’t get it to the other terraces because the ramps are about 50cm wide.
c) He’d been planning to build steps himself, and the other landowners thought that was a great idea.
d) It would be very easy for a deaf old lady to have got completely the wrong end of the stick.
e) They do have a legal requirement to allow pedestrian access to the other landowners – and the old lady isn’t one of them.
f) It would be very nice for everyone, my friends included, if they made it easy to get a rotivator up and down.

I said thanks, and the girls had no problem with people crossing their land and were planning a rotivator ramp anyway.

So I phoned Helen and Theresa back and we all startd breathing again.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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