Excerpt from Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Driving Over Lemons

An Optimist in Andalucia

By Chris Stewart

Driving Over Lemons

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Georgina and Romero talked animatedly about neighbours and boundaries and water and rates and rights while I rocked back and forth on my chair and grinned vacuously. The dogs were quiet now as a result of being stuck together, looking bashfully in opposite directions, wishing perhaps that they'd never started the whole wretched business. The wine and the ham came and went, and I nodded off, then opened a heavy-lidded eye as Georgina poked me in the ribs.

'Slap this into his hand as if you mean it.'

She passed me a fat wad of peseta notes of large denomination.

'You're now the happy owner of El Valero and that's the señal -- the deposit.'

It really was no use arguing with Georgina so I did as she said and bought the place. There was a deal of backslapping, handshaking and grinning all round.

'It was a gift at that price,' lamented Romero and his wife. 'We're ruined, really we've given our home away . . . you've bought a paradise for pennies, but what could we do?'
I almost began to offer them more money but Georgina shot me a silencing look, and so, for a little under five million pesetas (25,000 pounds*, more or less), I had bought a farm that I would have hardly dared look at over the fence before. In a matter of minutes I was transformed from an itinerant sheep-shearer and tenant of a tied cottage beneath an airport landing path in Sussex, into the owner of a mountain farm in Andalucía. This would take some getting used to.

*25,000 UK pounds is about US $40,000

Excerpted from Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart Copyright© 2000 by Chris Stewart. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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