'The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.'
- Thucydides Ancient Greek historian and author
Extract from: Chapter 2: Arrival & Encampment. Six weeks before Canana falls from the nest, the annual olive harvest is about to commence and the Gypsies are arriving in the valley. There is great excitement throughout the valley, as the appearance of the Gypsies signifies the olive season is about to get underway.
Extract From Chapter 2:
It was a few days later that a much greater Gypsy convoy made its way towards the centre of the valley. As usual, their arrival was a major spectacle to behold as they streamed into the valley. Over three hundred Gitano's made a noisy and colourful procession as they progressed ever closer to the valley's centre. As they passed through villages and towns, their inhabitants slung open doors and windows to get a better view. Many left their chores to watch these strange nomadic people make their way to their selected encampment ground.
The whole valley seemed to vibrate with the noise of their passing, as they moved through the Guadalquivir. Dogs barked in frenzy alongside laughing and screaming children running beside the brightly decorated wagons. From the horses that pulled these mobile homes, tassels, bells and ribbons streamed down, contributing to both the colour and noise. Some valley residents shouted greetings; or as was more often was the case, abuse at the Gypsies. It seemed that everybody and everything wanted to contribute to the already deafening Pandemonium.
Onboard the wagons sitting upright, expressions stern and proud, where the men of the tribe. Rugged was the term best used to describe them. Dark curly hair stuck out from the head-scarves they wore. Their faces were weather hardened and burnt brown from years of hard outdoor labour in numerous harvests throughout southern Europe. As they held firmly onto the horses’ reigns, they confidently guided their wagons through the confusion, navigating them along twisting roads and narrow village streets, ever further into the valley.
In contrast, most of the women sitting beside their men seemed much older than their actual years. The many childbirth’s and the constant hard labour of day to day life had taken its toll, depriving them of the beauty they may once have possessed.
It was only on the children's faces that this beauty still remained fresh. Happy and smiling, totally untouched by the cares and worries of everyday life, they walked confidently relaxed alongside the wagons. The teenagers of the clan accompanied their younger brothers and sisters alongside the caravans. The boys, handsome and strongly muscled would blow kisses and catcall any pretty girl they happened to see. Occasionally, some spirited female would smile and wave back, only to be immediately marched away by an outraged guardian.
In many ways, it was easy to see why angry and irate fathers often descended on the encampment, with complaints of incidents between their daughters’ and some of the young man. Normally, their complaints were met with a shrug of the shoulders and a muttered statement about nature always having its way, or boys will be boys. Invariably, the frustrated parent had to make his way back through crowds of grinning youths without having gained satisfaction.
If the young men were described as attractive, the girls could only be called stunning. Like their male counterparts, they also caused their share of problems between the two communities. As the young woman strutted through the streets alongside their kin, they were the main attraction for every hot-blooded male. These girls that were beginning to flower into womanhood were uniformly dressed in colourful skirts of many bright layers that fitted tightly around the waist and expanded outwards to fall just short of their ankles. Above their waist, they wore tight-fitting calico blouses printed with floral patterns over which was worn a snug-fitting waistcoat also adorned with brightly coloured designs that hugged their voluptuous figures to the best advantage. Over their upper clothing, their shiny long dark hair flowed over the shoulders and cascaded down to the waist. Nestling snugly in the hair was a pretty flower that could never match that of the wearer.
They did not really walk through the valley, these girls strutted with a 'come and get me' look in their eyes and a sensuous smile on their lips.
For many of the younger men watching the procession, it only needed one look to set their blood pumping fire, and their minds to be filled with erotic dreams of passion. Passions that may have shocked some of the older generations had they the ability to read minds, but which more than likely had passed through their own in their youth. Yet despite their internal desires, older and younger men alike knew better than to even approach these girls. So jealously protected by their menfolk were they, that a knife in the dark would be the only result of a liaison. Rumours had been told of many young men found dead after trying to fulfil their fantasies. It seemed the Gypsies held a very one-sided view of nature's way.