I immediately dismiss his apology. “No problem at all,” I tell him. If he hadn’t said anything, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed. “This is Benialí,” I reassure him. Here, no one will bat an eye if you show up in your pajamas in public. I doubt whether Raul, the baker who supplies all eight villages with fresh bread every day from his van, would even recognize us (and the rest of the local residents) in normal clothes. Reassured, the guests (who are still in their pajamas) sit down for breakfast. I walk back into the kitchen with a smile on my face. Happy that they feel so at home. That I didn’t have to wait long for their arrival. And that they were able to find us (on Google Maps) without the help of Melchior, Gaspar and Baltasar.
Our first guests after New Year’s Eve simply called themselves last Sunday to ask if they could make a reservation for that same evening. With the paintbrush still in my hand, I answered in the affirmative. “Of course I have a room available for you.” While I crossed my fingers, I hoped they weren’t already on my doorstep. “What time will you arrive approximately?”, I asked instead. Meanwhile, I glanced at the clock. Two o’clock. “Between five and six o’clock,” replied the voice on the other end. I sighed with relief. That gave me plenty of time to not only shower and scrub all the paint stains off, but also to properly check the current status of the house. While my parents were having lunch at El racó del Raval in the neighboring village Benissivà, I dragged the heavy saw table from the terrace over the threshold inside and ran after the remaining sawdust with the vacuum cleaner in my hand. The fact that it was quite windy, didn’t help.
Only after I had eliminated all traces of our most recent maintenance work and the fire started to crackle pleasantly, did I text my mother that we could not test the newly installed jacuzzi that evening. Instead, I handed our brand new guests two large yellow towels and quietly retreated to the living room. While they immersed themselves in the warm water, armed with a bottle of house wine and two glasses, my mom and I prepared an extensive tapas platter. Not having to drive another half hour to Ondara (where the restaurants are also open on Sunday evenings), the pair later settled down in their pajamas on the couch in front of the fireplace.
The fact that they preferred to lie in bed with a cup of coffee for some time the next morning (before appearing at the breakfast table with a profuse apology) rather than going for a walk, cannot possibly have been due to the beautiful surroundings. Because the ease with which they moved around the house in their pajamas is one thing. The fact that our house could easily compete with the beautiful Spanish nature (and even win every now and then) is something completely different. In my opinion, they could not have given us a greater compliment.