“He realized at that moment that he had much to live for.” Ah, to fall in love at first sight… Carol, the original proprietress of 7F Lodge, wrote this tantalizing short story in honor of our Spanish hacienda. We refer to this cabin simply as SPAIN. Imagine yourself staying in this lovely place for a romantic getaway, and being transported to Pamplona.
She saw him first at the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Not as one of the furiously drunk on Madera and trying to prove to the watching world their bravery and stupidity , but rather at the arena, the bull-fighting ring where the enormous animals departed and where they eventually were herded back following their slippery, twisting gallop over uneven cobblestone streets and cheering crowds. He was in a noble position near the maquillador of his childhood carefully watching the entry of each bull into the ring as they trotted the border, slung the stringing mucus from their huge, snorting nostrils over their dense shoulders and paused in a ascillating discovery that there was no way out of this circle. Each magnificent animal had a unique response to this moment and Antonio knew how to read their minds. The manquillador watched with him, but didn’t dare gaze directly into Antonio’s eyes for longer than five seconds. To hold the gaze longer during this analysis was too distracting for the serious work of observation. These animals were all speaking their great truth, and Antonio needed to know as much as possible before the fight that would take place this Sunday afternoon. Any of these animals could be the one to square off against him in the ring, and any of these could win by chance. After all, in the art of bullfighting, there is but one winner: either it is the matador or it is the bull. And there is death.
Esperanza had been invited to the ring by her father. It was his glorious harvest of olives and capers that had put him in such a fabulous mood. Thousands and thousands of acres of trees had once again surrendered their abundance in record tonnage, and this he had turned to gold. Ships were departing daily for ports around the world, and virtually every hold was filled with his briny crop.
Courts and palaces demanded his name be placed on every stone jar in order to insure its contents were of the finest available. Yes, this harvest was greater than ever recorded in the 300 years of family propriety. “Magnificent,” she heard him say softly. “Magnificent.”
Straining to hear his near whisper words, she leaned forward offering a startling view of her cleavage that had been modestly covered by a lace shawl. As if carefully nudged by the universe itself, Antonio turned at the exact moment Esperanza bent forward, only to be hypnotized by her astonishing beauty and ample femininity. He turned back to the ring. He couldn’t pay attention. He returned his gaze to her, and pivoted his body in her direction. Arms by his side in straight attention, he stared straight at her, hoping for a return glance at which point her father slapped his knee and declared that it was time to go to the bodega.. They would return on Sunday to watch the great fight. And with that, they both rose and eased out of sight in under the cover of their many servants. It was only as they descended the first of many stairs that Esperanza glanced back over her shoulder to see Antonio frozen in complete stupor. It was her shy smile and tilted chin that seared him. She turned back to descend the stairs and arrange her skirt, ever careful not to catch a heel in her ruffled hem. She smiled with amusement at the thought of that glance. Her maid had taught her early the importance of an unspoken farewell. She would see him again. She could tell by the way her legs trembled. The matador was trembling as well. He realized at that moment that he had much to live for. Much, much more to live for now.
Sunday morning came quickly for him and slowly for her. There was much to do to prepare for the bullfight. Antonio must carefully arrange for the correct foods and exercise, the right mental focus and the appropriate rituals in dressing, prayer and traveling to the arena. He was not a superstitious man, but he was a superstitious man. If a ritual was imperfect, then he felt imperfect, and for this reason he continued to focus only on the event at hand. Of course, he was taken by this exchange of a few days ago and it haunted him from moment to moment, but he did have a dangerous and theatrical engagement before him. The closer the time trotted to his bullfight the more he fretted. This was unusual and the constant unraveling he was fighting to ignore began to became too much. He had to find the priest.
Storming the cathedral on such a morning was unheard of, but exceptions had often been made for handsome matadors. He moved with a madness, dressed in his suit of lights and already wearing the agile footwear of a high wire performer. He moved faster, his breath heaving in and out, as he interrupted the prayer and silent. At the confessional door, he moved to open it with a jerk and fell into it banging the door behind him. The attending priest recoiled with a jolt and asked, “What is it, my son?”
“What is it?” responded Antonio, “Father, you should be asking me ‘who is it?’ And I should say, forgive me, for I have sinned, and this time it is the worst. It is in my mind, Father. Completely in my mind.”
It would take at least an hour for the startled priest to hear of Antonio’s fantasies about the mystery woman that had watched him for so long before he turned to see her leaving. It was in his quiet time that he was driven to impure thoughts an, masculine fantasies. For as long as he had made bullfighting his career, his mind was a controllable machine, but now he seemed incapable of any discipline whatsoever. Ritual was done correctly, but it had no meaning. Preparation was executed as always, but it was hollow. He felt like nothing mattered but to get to her, to find her, to know her and to love her in every way he knew how.
As the priest amused at yet another turning in life, he thought carefully at the odds he had placed on this fight and where it might take him financially if the matador couldn’t grasp his thinking. “Tell me more about this woman,” he spoke with theological adroitness. “Tell me all that you can remember and I will help you speak to the Lord.” Antonio told all that he could and the Priest took careful notes. At the end of confession, the matador was given some reassurance that divine providence had a way of making all things settle out in divine order. He was blessed again by the priest and as quickly as he departed the cathedral, so did Father Balderas. He had little time to do big work.
In the alley behind the cloister entrance the Priest whistled for a young boy eager to help with any errand that needed speed. He was quickly dispatched with a folded envelope bearing the seal of the church and whispered instructions. The caper fields were at least a 30 minute gallop, but the market vendors knew more though servant gossip than sentries at hacienda gates. Father Balderas suspected that this woman was none other than the convent-educated daughter of Don Pedro Cuervo, the most generous patron of the neighboring parish. The young boy disappeared in a cloud of dust and soon he returned after gathering the necessary information: she would be at the bullfight with her father, her mother and a great-uncle from Sevilla. “Gracias,” the priest spoke softly as he handed the boy some coins and made the sign of the cross gently across his dirty forehead. “Thank you, my son. God will reward you.”
On Sunday at the scheduled time for the bullfight, Antonio was alerted by a smiling Father Balderas as to the presence of Esperanza, her location in the prestigious seats above the entry as well as her name, gentry and disposition. His chest swelled up with pride and determination. This fight would be for Esperanza.
Upon entering the ring and making his dramatic, overgenerous presentation to the crowd he approached Esperanza with a small bouquet of plumeria blossoms wrapped in a strand of his strong, jet black hair. The crowd roared louder as he deeply and slowly bowed before her, never knowing at that moment that in 25 passionate and powerful years they would be seated together, above the entry, in this very ring, hands clasped tight and hearts leaping wildly as their first son entered for the first time as matador, honoring the love of their parents driving and magnetic passion that brought him into this magnificent world of honor and fate.
From it’s peaceful fountain patio to its unique royal blue triangle shaped tub, Spain offers yet another unique 7F romantic getaway experience. We hope you can book an escape soon!