Victor Somarriba 1942 – 2020

Victor passed away this morning after a brave fight. A good friend and neighbour, adviser on donkey handling, and cheerful and energetic fellow worker in the early morning teams to clean the irrigation channel from Finestrat to Benienso. Generous dinner host and a man with a passion for life.

He will be sorely missed by partner Rosanna, daughter Joane and other family, and it was good – against all the odds of the lock down that his daughters managed to travel from the Basque country to La Vila Joiosa hospital in time to be with him at the end.

Requiescat in pace, Victor.

Our Lady of Begoña pray for Victor and assure him a place in heaven this day, with the angels and saints. 30 April 2020

Funeral 16.00 – 16.30 Tanatorio, N332

I write this blog post during the precise time of the funeral that I cannot attend (due to restrictions in the COVID-19 emergency).

I have found this photograph from 2010 soon after I first went to live at the rented house in Benienso, “Elca Seriu” (the misplaced tiles that should have spelt El Caseriu!) and began preparing a place to welcome donkeys. I explained my plans to Victor and he turned out to be an expert donkey handler. Such an expert that he had been kicked in the jaw by a donkey as a teenager, and still bore the scar.

My best memories of those early days with the donkeys Rubí and Matilde, were always the early Saturday morning neighbours team which cleaned the irrigation channel over a precipitous three kilometre route from Benienso to Finestrat.

Victor used to swear his way to Finestrat, wielding a full-size scythe and hacking away at the weeds overgrowing the water channel. To me it was like a scene from “Jean de Florette”: the romantic life in the countryside. To him it was just another day in a lifetime’s struggle to bring the uncontrollable back under control, and it required much swearing and brute force!

In the photo from my old blog in 2011, “Aqueduct work party” Victor is in the middle of the picture in a check shirt and blue jeans, wielding a scythe, with a sheer drop into a ravine to our right…

Victor: (check shirt and blue jeans) swearing his way to Finestrat with a scythe!

My friend Victor: I cannot attend your funeral, I’m sorry.

I last saw you when you came here to El Parral a few months ago for some buckets of donkey manure (“for my lettuces”) but we did not know it would be the last time we would meet. So you were a little cross because someone had been to take all the manure and there were just three buckets left. And I was not terribly welcoming because you arrived when I was in the middle of preparing my lunch (and like typical man, I can only focus on one thing at once), so I kept our conversation to a minimum and I remember you were sorry that we didn’t have our usual long conversation. I cannot remember what I had for lunch, but I will now always remember that it stopped me having our last proper conversation in this life. I am sorry Victor.

What you did not know, for we never discussed it, is that this place – El Parral – will be a hermitage. Already you have been the focus of the prayers of this hermitage: that you will find your deserved place in heaven with the angels and saints, this very day. As I begin the process of subjecting this project to formal discernment, and hoping for acceptance of my Rule of life under Canon 603 in the diocese, you will have a permanent place on the intercession list of this place. You are one more reason why the Rule of life here will now be more solid, and I thank you for that additional help.

Pray for me in your garden in heaven, Victor, and take some donkey manure whenever you want, for your heavenly lettuces, my fine friend. You always grew better lettuces, and how much better they will be now!