The monk and I stood near the roundabout, whose statues were still hidden from inquisitive eyes by a large cloth, and we looked on in amazement at all the activity in the other half of our village. People were coming back. Houses were cleaned, roof tops repaired, walls and doors got a new coat of paint. Only a few weeks ago this part of Virgen de la Epifanía – as the village was now officially called - was dark and dead at night and all of a sudden it was rapidly springing back to life. The metamorphosis was mind blowing. The baker was back and fired his ovens. A butcher next door had a sticker on his shop window saying 'Kosher' in Hebrew characters. A hand written sign next to the sticker advertised the fact that the finest and tastiest Serrano hams in all of Andalusia could be purchased here. I saw them hanging from hooks in the ceiling, an indication of the broad minded view the butcher had on the Jewish religious dietary laws of kashrut. Children were kicking a ball around in the yard and two women were hanging laundry. A car was approaching, a Seat with a family of five in it. On the roof rack a great number of suitcases were tied together with a rope. The car stopped in front of an old house that had had a sort of make-over recently and the man who got out I recognized immediately by his bulk and beard: Elia ben Oso-Pardo, the amateur historian and municipal surveyor. As his wife and children ran into their new home Elia walked up to us.
“Welcome back,” said Moshe Cohen. “It's good to have you in our community.”
“Well, that is one way of looking at it,” Elia responded. “We could turn it around and say that we welcome you into our community.”
Moshe Cohen smiled. “That's true, but when we came there was no one here to welcome us. The place was empty, a run down ruin.”
“Shmuel Eregast was here. He was holding the fort for us. Never in all history has this place been empty of Jews. Don't you forget that. This is our home.”
The conversation was becoming a bit terse, in spite of the smiles, so I changed the subject.
“Tell me, Elia, have the Archbishop and the chief rabbi confirmed their presence at the reburial of Lorenzo and the grand opening of the resort, the unveiling of the roundabout?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact I received their letters this morning. I have them here with me.” Elia ben Oso-Pardo took from the inside pocket of his jacket two letters that he passed on to me. On the envelop I read: To the right honorable Mr. Elia ben Oso-Pardo, interim mayor of Virgen de la Epifanía.
“So you are the mayor now, congratulations. How did that happen?”
“I applied for the job and – not surprisingly, there were no other candidates - they gave it to me. It's my task to organize elections. I have great plans for this community.”
“What a wonderful development!” Moshe Cohen the monk exclaimed, hitting Elia ecclesiastically on his shoulder. “You should talk to professor Hubnoth, he has plans too.”
“I do not think it likely that our plans will go well together. We have different visions, the professor and I.”
“Surely we will resolve our differences while enjoying a good glass of wine, don't you agree?”
“I'm not so sure. For one: the roundabout will have to go.” Elia smiled grimly and sounded quite determined .
“Why!? You haven't even seen it yet.”
“I have seen the drawings. And while looking at them I noticed you do not have the right permits for it. It has to go. I'm so sorry.” And with that he shook our hands and Elia ben Oso-Pardo, the interim mayor of Virgen de la Epifanía, walked away. The tone was set.