6 - Stories from Galicia 1960 :
by Michael Furstner
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A secret dinner of Buoy Francess
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When I arrived back in Darwin yesterday (March 7, 2010) I found a copy of Veldwerk Deel 2 (2010) (published
by the Leidse Geologische
Vereniging) Charley Arps had sent, waiting for me. It is a collection of
memories by former Geology students at Leiden University of their field work in Spain and includes two of my own
stories from Caión. I read some of the stories with interest. They transport me
right back in time to those wonderful days in Spain, 50 years ago, and two more of my
own experiences come immediately to mind. Here follows one.
Bembaree (spelling?, in English pronounced "Bembaray" - sitting between Freddie and me on adjacent
photo), was the blue eyed, blond hair and most daring fisherman in Caión. Like
all others on the coast he mainly fished for sardines, but now and then went very
secretly catching buoy francess (spelling?), a huge size crab (with 20cm, 8 inch
wide body), especially during their breeding season, when it was forbidden to do so, and
of course always just then secured the very best prices.
After one of these secret missions Bembaree invited my friends Henk, Freddie
and myself, as well as the local Guardia Civil to a hush hush very secret meal of
this forbidden fare, at our hotel. So one Sunday afternoon we quietly gathered in a
private back room of the hotel, whispering only, finger on lips, door closed. Spaniards
are experts at bringing out drama like that.
The five of us, plus the hotel owner who had also been invited,
were sitting around a large wooden table, waiting expectantly. After a while the door
opened and the cook came in carrying a huge platter of red boiled buoy francess. After
he had left, closing the door quietly behind him, we tucked in, cracking the crab shells
with wooden hammers on the wood planks in front of us. It was a wonderful feast lasting
for a couple of hours, and of course accompanied by lots of local wine. Upon completion
of the meal we left quietly, one at a time, not to attract suspicion, although I strongly
suspect that the whole village knew of it.
After the event the local Guardia Civil who himself had participated in the
feast, of course could not possibly charge Bembaree for breaking the law. So when two
large crates of buoy francess, hidden underneath a stack of boxes with sardines, drove
out off Caión by truck the next morning, he let it pass without a word.
Instead, the Guardia
Civil cycled on his bike to the next village down the road where he telephoned a
colleague near Vigo (large port and cannery town on the West coast of Spain, just
North of Portugal) and passed on the truck's registration number. In due course the truck
was inspected there and the illegal crab load confiscated.
Bembaree however had been paid before the truck left so was not disadvantaged. Likewise
the Guardia had done his duty.
Most loads of buoy francess arrived at their destination as planned, but occasional the
Guardia Civil had to step in and confiscate a load for appearance sake.
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner