Colungo 2.0


You might have observed that we haven’t posted anything recently. Then again, you might not. The thing is, Sheen and I have been away. And guess where we went to spend our Holy Week – yes, that’s right, you already read the title – Colungo.


I swore some time ago I would never return to that village. My last experience there was traumatic, to say the least. But, you know, it’s like a drug. I promise I will not do it again but in the end I fall. And I’ve fallen for Colungo big time.


I’ve never managed to shake off the Somontano Monkey. He mutters and rants somewhere on the fringes of my psyche and despite my conscious efforts to block Him out, His furious waffling seeps through and I always know He’s alive and kicking; when He’s calm and reflexive and when He’s edgy and concerned. And so, against my better judgement, I decided to try to assuage His neuro-itchy urges by paying another visit to His old stamping ground, His patria chica, the village of Colungo, where legend would have it He used to spout forth from the comfort of His sacred tree, showering His unparalleled doctrines on just about anybody in the vicinity.


Colungo receives a fair number of visitors every Easter, so I thought I would probably not be recognised, especially since I spent the whole time disguised as a nazareno, sporting a pointy cone-shaped Ku Klux Klan-like hood and mask. I explained to everybody that I was on a pilgrimage, atoning for my sins. Sheen dressed as a nun and pretended to be blind.


We decided not to stay at a hotel (too risky), so we squatted in an abandoned Chinese restaurant originally called Gran Feliz Siglo de Oro Divino or something, that we’d heard about because one of Sheen’s Facebook  “friends” used to squat here. Just to protect our identities even more, I called myself Freddy Sánchez (after the great Filipino lightweight boxer of the 70’s) and Sheen took the name Sor Angustias. We were alone in the Chinese squat apart from a seemingly narcoleptic hippy whose name we never found out because he always fell asleep just as he was going to tell us. He was the perfect flatmate – discreet, forgetful and uninterested.


We joined in the religious processions, although I’m not a big fan of that kind of thing, and, because we were appropriately dressed up, we blended in quite well. We visited just about all the watering holes in the village, sometimes chatting casually with the local folk but usually just listening to see if anybody mentioned the Somontano Monkey or maybe my name. I was on my sixth Cacique and Coke (no easy feat, wearing a mask that went down to my stomach) when suddenly Sor Angustias elbowed me urgently.


“They’re talking about your Monkey!”, she hissed.


“What?!” I craned my capirote in the direction of the two shady characters in the corner. Sure enough, I heard the word “monkey”, and then “Martínez”. Now, mine isn’t a rare surname – there must be hundreds of thousands of Martínezs in Spain – but I just knew they were talking about me. And, needless to say, the Somontano Monkey also knew…


I thought my head was going to explode with the racket He was making. “Ginger petrify southwest Carnegie! Lump hieratic shoal piecemeal strike!”, He yelled in Flemish (for some reason.)


I explained to Sheen we had to get out of there. She dragged me out of the bar and I felt the glare of the two thugs on the back of my hooded neck.


“We need to get to His tree!”, I gasped.


It had started to rain and we were soaked by the time we made it to the Monkey’s tree, which was, fortunately, nearby. The closer we got, the more relaxed my inner ape became. He kept rabbiting on, but less stridently and slightly more coherently. Words like “peace”, “comfort”, “release”, and even “ataraxia” were clearly audible. I knew He was at ease – excited, of course, but relieved to be home and I could even imagine He was smiling.


The next day we struck up conversation with a guy called Emilio who worked in the Ayuntamiento. He told us that the local government was in talks with some American firm to build a theme park in the area, with a casino, a golf course and God knows what else. The Monkey started making funny noises.


“The logo of the whole thing is a kind of monkey”, Emilio went on.


“What?!” I exclaimed for the second time in this post.


Emilio fished out a photocopy of what looked like a brochure. Somontano Ocio Park, it said. And there it was… a Disneyish monkey face.


“I think the mascot’s name is Pepito”, said Emilio. “What’s the matter, Heen? You’ve gone all pale…”


Those were the last words I remember. Sheen says I passed out at exactly 3pm on Good Friday.


But worse was to come. When I came to, all I could hear was an unhinged cackling inside my head.


“Oh, what is it now!” I cried, tears of blood searing down my nazareno outfit. I was definitely repentant.


And then it dawned on me. The Somontano Monkey was actually happy to be the mascot of the casino. He felt vindicated and, at the same time, relieved that he had been released of his savant status. He was now going to be a figure of fun, a pathetic Ronald McDonald of Colungo. I felt defeated, crushed. The Monkey was laughing at ME.


We returned to Zaragoza in grim silence. Sheen tried to cheer me up and the wretched simian was giggling and chortling. He kept singing corny little jingles that drove me mad.


Colungo is bad for me. Every time I go there, something tragic happens to me. And it’s all because of this bloody monkey. Will nobody rid me of this curse? Am I to spend the rest of my days tormented by this devil? Will I forever wander the earth haunted by the Somontano Monkey? 


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