In Memoriam

April 7th, 2010 | Written by Simon Rice|


On my travels lately I’ve been stopping to examine old permanent stone markers that hitherto I’d always assumed to be associated with the Civil War. But it turns out that these, like the increasingly common floral tributes, mostly commemorate victims of traffic accidents. I found a new one just last weekend, returning from a country fair. A carved stone obelisk near the quiet village of Sant Salvador de Tolo, on what was once the only highway into this remote mountain region. The inscription reads, Aqui murio despeñado con su carro y caballerias Juan Bertran de Conques, el 30 de enero 1919. E.P.D., ‘Here died Juan Bertran of Conques, fallen off the cliff with his cart and horses, January 30th, 1919. R.I.P.’ (En Paz Descanse). It’s easy to imagine the scene; the clatter and stamp of the terrified horses, the calls of the mossos, drovers mates and labourers who always accompanied the old carros, the driver frozen in horror as the cart, as its wheels uselessly locked on the black ice, traces its inexorable path towards the edge. Nervously, we peered over the fifty-metre precipice, naively expecting to see some remains of the disaster. But there were just a couple of old tractor tyres. An example of Spain’s modernity, perhaps!