Two extraordinary things happened in Gaucín last month. On the evening of Wednesday 18th of January it began to snow and the villagers woke the next morning to find Gaucín magically transformed into a winter wonderland. The mountain was enveloped in a thick blanket of snow, proper snow – the kind you can build snowmen with. There are so many wonderful photos of this enchanted transformation out there that I am likely to come back to this. But for now, I want to concentrate on the second extraordinary occurrence.
The following week a dear friend in the village died. Born in Yorkshire, she had spent the majority of her life in the Midlands before moving out to Gaucín in her early fifties and had lived in the village for some years. My friend was a typical northern lass: outspoken, stubborn and sometimes downright bolshie. But she was also a sassy lady with a heart of gold, forever extending a generous hand.
She lived alone finding work where she could, but her final year was beset with illness and gradually her savings dwindled to nothing. Her last wish was to be buried in the village she called home and determined to honour this, donations came flooding in from all corners of this diverse village. The Mayor, Pedro Godino Martín, generously agreed to suspend the burial costs and enough money was raised to transport her back from the Ronda hospital where she died, and provide a simple burial in the village cemetery. Friends and neighbours of all nationalities turned out in the rain to see her off.
In this time of xenophobia, suspicion and global turmoil, this surely is a shining example of true kinsman ship! A community coming together to look after its own wherever they may originally hail from. The wider world should take note – the village is far from perfect and like any community has its petty squabbles and skirmishes – but a lesson in humanity can be learnt from these people living at the top of a remote mountain.