It was pretty strange to hear Don Rakow, the Cornell professor leading our garden tour of Spain to say, “95% of the women here have a crush on Eduardo!”
There might be a tiny shred of truth to his comment, observation or instinct.
Eduardo Mencas is a handsome, charming Spaniard who studied film making in the United States at California’s UCLA. He can cause a mass hypnotic state when he tells a story. And telling stories kept all ten of us on the trip enraptured and hanging on to every colorful word spoken in his richly Spanish accented speech. Eduardo produced a movie in California, but all he would tell us about it was, “It was a troublesome project.” He left the United States and headed home to Granada after his unhappy film experience.
Today he is in his home in Spain, where he is working on Le Merada, his ancestral estate consisting of approximately 1,000 acres in Guadalajara. “Working on the estate” does not really mean “working” in the normal sense of the word. But he infuses it with his creativity. Guadalahara is the home of “the deserted city.” This large complex of homes was built during the housing boom years, but now lies deserted and uninhabited.
Eduardo occasionally drives up from his home in the city of Granada, to look around and check on whether any more mischief has been done to the property. Although the estate overlooks a beautiful vista of the mountains and valley surrounding it, there is one small flaw in its location.
Among other incidents, once a group of patients from the hospital escaped and burned a portion of the surrounding forest that blankets the property from view of the hospital. Eduardo acted in a cool and creative way.
He hired a crew of workers to dig up the burned trees and plant them near his house. “Friends, let’s work together to make this a happier site. Let’s brighten up this forest!” He and is crew then proceeded to paint the trees in neon bright primary colors, mocking the impact of the mischief makers’ deeds. So part of his garden boasts the unusual sight of a small field of primary colored tree trunks. “When life gives you buckets of sour grapes, turn them into red wine.” And he led us to a table prepared with assorted cheeses, fruits and pastries. And wine. A delicious feast, enjoyed as we sat on the porch overlooking the dramatic valley, listening to Eduardo’s stories.
“No,no,no. Back in the bus; we’re off to our next adventure.”
Sorry, Professor Rakow, but that was far too much fun to have to leave so soon.