happened the next day, after the party at La Parra. I met Jutta, at
last, when I came down for my breakfast in the all-green bar/dining room
of the Delfín Verde. I was rather later than usual, and a bit
unsteady still, with a slight hangover. She was sitting at my customary
table, waiting for me. With her was Chinese Rita who was quietly
nursing her brandy bottle, but whose eyes were bright, and whose voice
was animated. Her graceful hands were butterfly-active, as usual.
Dundee Doreen came gliding over to us from behind the bar as I sat
down. She was carrying my usual, a large plate loaded with bacon and
two fried eggs.
“Adam and Eve on a raft!” she sang out, “for the Thumper!” Her eyes
danced into mine and I knew intuitively that in her mind she was going
back in her young life to a time she must have spent in the States.
Because “Adam and Eve on a raft,” was short-order cook language, which
could only have come from there.
you can burn one with hot buns, wet!” I answered with a smile. Doreen
laughed out loud. I had asked for coffee and toasted buttered buns, as
well. And she knew for what I had asked! The Irish, it seemed,
absorbed American pop culture as plants absorb the dew.
got it,” she answered, with an exaggerated Yankee accent. And piping
hot coffee was almost instantly in front of me.
“It’s time we had a talk”, interjected Jutta, Her voice had a unique,
somewhat coarse, somewhat grating quality. It was both authoritative
and personal at the same time. There was that in her, perhaps her
manner, something indefinable, which put me on my guard.
“This is our Jutta,” Chinese Rita said, almost singing the words as she
introduced us, both with her voice and with her hands. “She has the
most wonderful house on Ibiza.” I was to learn, eventually, that Rita
habitually spoke in superlatives. (But this time my own experience
proved her about right.) “Jutta, say hello to the Thumper!” And she
added, triumphantly, “He put Unwanted Tom right through that!”
And she pointed to the main door. Then she made a sweeping arm gesture,
and said, “Whoosh!” at the same time, with closed eyes. It was intended
to indicate the speed with which Tom had exited the premises. Rita
somehow knew I had become guarded and was letting me know that Jutta was
one of ‘us’, that she was an accepted member of the expatriate
‘family’. That she was O.K. How she knew I was on my guard, I still
have no idea. She was a very sensitive receiver, was Rita, drinking or
you always ‘thumping’?” Jutta asked, with a special downward tonal twist
to the way she said the word ‘thumping’. “Or was this exceptional?”
Her English, spoken through thin lips which accurately articulated each
word, was precise in such a way as to inform that she had been carefully
schooled in the language. The question itself betrayed intelligence
quietly at work.
“Well, there were extenuating circumstances,” I said carefully,
wondering who she really was while I remembered with revived anger the
way Tom had kicked my little dog. The smile on my face did not disarm
her. She knew I was being cautious.
“Another coffee?” she asked, proving that she was as observant as she
was evasive. I had finished my cuppa.
I replied. It was one of the first Spanish words I had learned. Yutta
took the manner in which I had pronounced the word - correctly - to
indicate I was a Spanish speaker.
gentleman will have a carajillo,” she called out in Spanish to
Dundee Doreen, once again behind the bar. I noted that she spoke at
least three languages; German, her mother tongue, English and Spanish.
While I, poor, insular American, spoke only one.
“Don’t be fooled,” I said, “no hablo español, please stick to
English…I’m more at home in English.” Superficially it put me at a
disadvantage to say so, because it implied inferiority, but it also sent
a signal to Jutta. The signal said ‘I will only deal with you on a
level field, and on one of my own making’. But I was still ignorant of
what we were to deal about. Unless it was her guest house, Casa Paput.
I remembered that Big Mimi had told me positive things about it.
that was the way of it. Jutta, who was almost what is called statuesque,
and had the curly blonde hair, blue eyes and the ample body-lines of a
German house wife, soon explained who she really was. She was no
housewife. Capitulating to my defensiveness, she told me that she had
only two or three years ago arrived in Ibiza…from Colombia. She had
lived there for years, like so many other Germans who had immigrated
there after the war. She did not elaborate on that peculiar
movement-of-population phenomenon nor did I. But we both knew it had
been seriously noted. You must remember that this was only about twenty
years after World War II. Racial, religious and political issues among
the informed nationals of the previously warring parties were still
quite fresh in those days. Some would say they still are. She had
started a small business in Ibiza, she went on, importing high quality
artisan objects from Colombia. And she was sure I would like some of
the things she had to show from Colombia. Colombia, it seemed, had
figured largely in her post-war life.
was also, she said, as if it was of only secondary interest to her…or to
me, the wife of Emilio Schillinger, dueño of the Delfín Verde and
former manager of El Corsario, a well known hotel in the Old Town. You
will remember that I had met Emilio in Ernesto’s quarters. When I had
queried him about his obsession with the colour green, he had explained
it by recounting a chilling childhood nightmare that had thereafter
permeated his life. I had had political reservations about him at
first, but in the end had come to think there was no evil in the man.
And now, it would appear, the plot was to thicken. I was again having
political reservations, this time about his wife. It appeared that, like
Ernesto, I too, might become an unexpected tenant of his, because Jutta
was offering me the rental of Casa Paput, her guest house on the
property of what Chinese Rita had called “the most wonderful house on
Dundee Doreen had been serving me super-strong coffee, super-laced with
brandy. It seemed quite natural that the first carajillo should
be followed by another…and another. And before I knew it, I was feeling
quite warm, quite social, quite obliging. Especially endearing was the
comradeship of Chinese Rita, whose own brandy intake was nothing if not
negligible. So the conversation progressed without strain. Chinese
Rita and Dundee Doreen kept up a flow of assurances, in my direction,
about Casa Paput, and I knew that they genuinely had my welfare at
heart. Surely they were helping me to cut through a search for a place
in which to live, a search which might otherwise take me weeks. They
knew the island. I was ignorant of the island. They
confirmed and even elaborated on the wonders of the location and of the
comforts of the guest house called Paput. So when Jutta suggested we
go off and look at it, I was quick to agree, forgetting that I had
planned to look in on Flipper at Vicente’s, the vet, after breakfast.
drove out on the road to San Antonio Abad, all four of us jammed into
the little Renault along with the bulk of my things which were still
being stored in the boot and the back seat. Just before I turned left
at C’an Negre, Chinese Rita and Dundee Doreen began singing as they sat
crammed together. I can’t remember the song, but I do remember that
Jutta and I both applauded them when it was over. Then we swung into
the dirt track leading towards Big Mimi’s place and Jutta’s casa
was the first time I had driven that road in daylight and I was
surprised to see that it was thickly covered with a blanket of grey,
gravel-like material. Suddenly it dawned on me. I realized we were
driving on rock dust. Now what was rock dust doing on a country lane?
To where did this track lead? Rock dust could only mean one thing. In
my experience it meant a quarry was at the end of this country lane.
And what did that mean? It meant that large trucks with giant loads of
crushed rock in several grades of fineness would be constantly passing
to and fro in front of the “most wonderful house in Ibiza”. The
realization immediately placed me in the middle of a quandary. If I
felt I couldn’t live with large trucks passing to and fro in front of
me, then I would be unable to become the next tenant in Casa Paput. And
if that was true, then I would have to disappoint many of my new friends
who actively wanted me to become its next tenant. There was the further
question of why they actively wanted me to become its next
tenant. A question the answer to which was slowly percolating into my
Suppressing my initial urge to immediately withdraw from further
exploration into the possibility of renting Jutta’s guest house, was the
sudden, unbidden recollection of advice once given me by my father.
That advice had been in connection with the limited subject of mailing
angry letters, but its principle was and is, universal. He had urged me
not to mail such letters immediately they had been written, but to wait
at least a day or two after the fact, before doing so. If I still felt
they should be mailed then, they probably should be mailed. But, he
suggested, very few would be the times when I would feel that way. And
so it followed that very few would be the times when I would mail the
letter. I knew from much personal experience with that advice that its
principle was not to be violated if remorse was not to follow
impulsiveness. And so I decided not to foreclose Casa Paput right then
and there, and certainly not before I had had a chance to see it. The
affectionate remembrance of my father took me to see quite clearly in my
mind’s eye, as it always did, a group picture he had once shown me of
his family in Lithuania. There had been 32 of them. The Nazis and
Lithuanian collaborators, and even some of the German Army, had murdered
each and every one of them.
drove on toward “the most wonderful house in Ibiza” without comment.