It 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.
And 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.
You got it, she answered, with
an exaggerated Yankee accent. And piping hot coffee was almost
instantly in front of me.
Its 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 not drinking.
Are 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
Another coffee? she asked, proving
that she was as observant as she was evasive. I had finished
Carajillo, 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.
The 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.
Dont be fooled, I said,
no hablo español, please stick to English
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
And 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
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.
She 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 Ernestos
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 Ibiza!
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
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 Vicentes, the vet,
We 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 Can
Negre, Chinese Rita and Dundee Doreen began singing as they
sat crammed together. I cant 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 Mimis place and Juttas casa payesa.
It 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 couldnt
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 consciousness.
Suppressing my initial urge to immediately
withdraw from further exploration into the possibility of
renting Juttas 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 minds
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.
I drove on toward the most wonderful
house in Ibiza without comment.