Once upon a time, in the most remote part
of "Llabritja" (the actual Sant Joan de Llabritja),
there was a young and beautiful girl called Rita.
She was the best looking; the most wanted
and courted young girl of the entire neighbourhood.
Rita had two pretenders; two young and handsome
boys called Lluc and Marc, both healthy and honest, deeply
in love, from good families, with the honest will of marrying
Two years before, both had started to walk
her back home (the mother following a few steps behind, watching),
from church, after the Sunday mass.
But Lluc was the older brother, therefore "s'Hereu" (the Heir) of most of the family possessions
and his family was the richest of all this part of the Island.
Obviously Lluc was the favourite of Rita's parents, especially
of her mother, an ambitious, heartless, dominating woman,
already dreaming of the big amount of wealth that she would
have as soon as Rita "fished" Lluc, a good boy,
but without much character, mentally a little wick, easy for
her to handle.
Nevertheless, Rita's secret favourite was
Marc, the youngest of four brothers, therefore he could only
expect his "Llegitime" (the small part of the inheritance
that all brothers, apart from the heir, must have by the local
laws), a small plot of land where he could build a house and
earn a modest living on it.
Marc was aware of his disadvantage and he
knew that he couldn't expect any more help from anybody, but
as he was also a good and intelligent worker, he had already
started - without telling anybody - little by little, to build
his own house on his small plot of land, full of enthusiasm
and hope, to offer it to his beloved Rita in case he was the
one elected by her heart.
Coming close to Christmas, her parents started
to put pressure on her to make a decision. "Rita,"
said her father, "as you are soon going to be eighteen,
it is the time for you to take a choice, for the next year
it will have to be Lluc or Marc, you will have to get married
soon, in two or three years, and you can't keep giving hope
to both, so make up your mind."
Rita was already expecting this ultimatum
from her parents, and she already had an answer. "Next
Saturday, when they come home for courting me, I will let
them know my conditions", she said.
And so it happened on Saturday evening,
as they were both in Rita's parents' house, seated one each
side, courting her.
She said: "Listen my dear friends,
my father and mother want me to choose one of you to marry
and so I will, but you are both good, loving friends. I don't
want to upset either of you, but on the other hand I want
to live in my own house, not in your parents' houses because
you both have big families and I just want to live with my
"I have decided that I will marry the
first one to build and finish a house for us to live in".
"Very well", said Lluc, thinking
that the amount of money his family had would allow him to
buy all the materials and pay for as many workers as he needed
to finish his house much faster then his opponent.
"Very well" said Marc, thinking
that his house was almost finished, just a few more weeks
and the house would even be painted, ready to live in.
"Very well" said Rita's parents,
who didn't know anything about Marc's house, so they thought
he would never have a chance, even to find the money to buy
the materials for it.
But just a day after, somehow the mother
found out about Marc's new house, (some said she was a bit
of a witch) and she was so angry that big red flames came
out of her eyes and mouth. No devil has ever looked more furious
and terrifying. She started then to chase the husband all
the time, insisting again and again: "na Rita s'ha de
casar amb en Lluc, devore ell, en Marc es un mort de fam".
(Rita must marry Lluc, Lluc, Lluc...)
After three days of listening to her, non-stop
with the same old song, as normally happens with most married
couples, the husband surrendered: "All right! All right!
It's enough", said the poor man, dominated by his women.
"We want Rita to marry Lluc and so it will be! His house
will be finished first, but don't ask me how I will do it
and don't say anything to Rita!"
Christmas soon passed, the "salsa de
Nadal" was already eaten and nothing changed, only Marc's
house was a little more and more advanced every day, the well
was already finished, with the lead on, and he was fixing
the last windows and doors, one or two more weeks and it would
be ready. Lluc, sad and miserable, when he knew about Marc's
new house, didn't even start his own, thinking that it was
completely impossible to compete. Rita was as happy as a pair
of castanets, laughing and giggling, thinking about how clever
she was. "Now I can get married with the one I want without
upsetting Lluc and with my parents' blessings," she thought.
The mother was more and more hysterical
every day, but the father was very tranquil, with a funny
smile upon his face.
The last day of the year, the father said:
"I have to go to Vila (Eivissa Town) for some business,
so don't wait for me until the day after tomorrow". But
instead of going to Vila, he went to Santa Eulari.
He arrived as the Sun was going down and
went under the old bridge of Santa Eulari River with a little
black bottle that he left there, without the top, and he started
looking all over the floor, in between the stones and the
river-side plants, until the new day of the new year began
That was when he found what he was looking
for, a small rare herb, "s'Herba des Fameliar" that
he put immediately in the bottle. As soon as the herb was
in the bottle it turned heavier, then he put the top on, jumping
and shouting: "Ja et tenc! Ja et tenc!" (I've got
you! I've got you!) because he knew he had found what he was
looking for, his own "Fameliar".
Then, with this fantastic spirit trapped
in the black bottle, he went to see Lluc, and said to him:
"Lluc, you want to marry Rita, don't you? So, show me
where you want the house built and don't worry about anything".
"Yes, of course" Lluc said, and
showed him the land on top of a little hill where he wanted
his house, thinking that the poor old man had lost his head.
"All right!" said the father,
"come back here tomorrow and see what happens".
As soon as it was dark, the father was already
on the hill with his little black bottle. He took off the
top and a scruffy little man, less then a foot tall, with
long arms, its head without a hair, like a little marrow with
an enormous mouth and tiny sparkling red eyes, the "Fameliar",
jumped out of the bottle shouting "Menjar o feina! Menjar
o feina!¨ (Work or food! Work or food!).
"Don't worry," said the father,
"I will give you plenty of work" and told him to
bring the materials and build a house big enough for eight
or ten people.
Within less time than I need for writing
it, the materials were there, the tools were moving so fast
that they looked like they were flying by themselves, the,
almost one metre thick, stone walls were ready in less then
two hours, an hour later the roof was done, and so on until
the Sun started to show. By then, the house was finished.
Then the father said a little prayer and
put his "Fameliar" back in the black bottle and
put the top back on. After doing this, and as he has to spend
two nights without sleep, he went back to his house looking
for his bed. "Now that Lluc's house is finished, knowing
that he will be our son-in-law and all his possessions will
be also ours, I think that I will sleep for two days"
Later in the morning, when Lluc walked alone
up the hill and found the house already built just over night,
he was so shocked that he couldn't move for a long while.
His eyes jumped out of their sockets and his mouth was so
wide open that he could keep the mule and cart in it. His
fragile mental health couldn't cope with it, he came down
the hill running, screaming and shouting like a real fool.
When Marc saw his opponent's house already
finished before his own, he never finished his, he left it
all and started walking away, disappearing for ever. Someone
said that he took a ship to Cuba, but no one really knows.
Rita had to marry Lluc and both moved to
their new house, as she had promised, but nobody could hear
her laughter any more.
They both died young. She died of annoyance,
Lluc died of real fear, he was terrified every time he walked
into the house, he couldn't sleep at night and never was the
same man again.
After the young couple died, nobody else
wanted to live in this dammed house. Rita's parents also died
of remorse very soon after their daughter, so little by little
the house just became a ruin and nobody wanted to work on
this part of land either.
If you walk by "Es Torrent des Jonc"
not far from "Sa Cala de Sant Visent", in between
the forest of one of the most lonely areas, you still can
see a big pile of stones where the house used to be, and some
swear that if you are there the first day of the year, you
can hear Rita crying: "Marc, Marc, take me with you,
away from this damned house".
This, and similar "histories"
of "Barrugets" "Follets" and "Fameliars", have made generations of Ibicencos cry and laugh, to dream
and to fight about it being the truth or not, they have kept
the young children awake in their beds for many hours, as
I remember myself, with my eyes and ears completely open trying
to spot one of the "Barrugets" that I was one hundred
percent sure was living in our house.
But there was a time that this history was
of interest to others, apart from children and simple peasants.
The Inquisition had at least two Court cases
in Eivissa that involved the "Fameliar." In 1675,
there was a hearing in Eivissa by the "Santa Inquisición"
(the Inquisition Tribunal) asking to denounce anybody who
have or have had a Fameliar by invoking Lucifer.
In 1744, Francesc Tur de Bartumeu from "Quartó
de Santa Eulari" was taken to the Inquisition Tribunal
because he wanted to buy a "Fameliar" from Pere
Antoni Puiggros, a merchant from Vila.
For some of our historians, the legend of
the "Fameliar" was just a cover to hide something
more serious, something that it could not be said in our Roman
Catholic society, such as the use of slaves in our Islands.
But this is another history...Anyway, don't
forget to leave a slice of bread and cheese somewhere inside
the house every night, just in case!
All Pictures © 1998
Marià Torres Torres - Antropologia d'Eivissa
I Formentera Volum 1
José P Ribas