Autobiography & Memoir
The Cat Lady of Orgiva
I passed her table with the notice 'Tarot readings' on my way inside the Baraka Cafe, Orgiva situated by the local Thursday market. She looked at me knowingly and gave me a lovely beguiling smile. I smiled back but did not stop as I was unsure if it was a ruse to get me to sit down and have my future read. That I was going to travel and meet a tall dark stranger! I had, however, noticed her huge New Age adornment around her throat, that of the goddess Isis. I could have been in Glastonbury and imagined her there with Pinky and Romany who I had met and photographed in Jaipur. She was wearing a deep royal purple flowing low cut gown showing her ample bosom. I felt compelled to return to talk, photograph her and hear her story.
Inside, the Baraka cafe was dark and cluttered with New Age inhabitants discussing the week, looking at the overflowing notice board with local services and coming events. The ambience and the name was distinctly Moroccan. Well I was in what had been Al-Andalus when Córdoba and Fez had been united by the Jews and the Moors. when Muslim Spain was medieval territory between 711 and 1492.
It was 11.30 am and I had one hour to kill before being picked up to go back to my beautiful safe haven, Cortijo Romero, 5 minutes by car in the heat of the day. I was wilting, however I decided to approach this blonde beckoning apparition. I did and entered the world of Simba meaning lion. But then I am a lion too coming from the female line of Lyons originally Loeb from Poland two centuries ago. After I had spend one hour with the delightful Simba she told me that she felt she had always known me! We had clicked. I took photos of her and selfies of us.
But what a story! What had brought Simba to Orgiva 5 years ago I asked?
Simba grew up in Cyprus and England moving around as her father was with the RAF so she had no real home. No roots. The wandering Jew like my oldest best friend Helga before she found Israel 40 years ago.
Simba mainly lived near Paphos in the countryside but still searched and searched. She kept meeting travellers who told her about Andalucia and so she listened researching the mountainous area and the Berber white villages south of Granada on the net. Then she put in the words 'rustic Andalucia' and up came a Cortijo called Los Pieados just outside Orgiva including its guardians - a photo of its two resident large ginger cats.
Being a cat lover she desperately wanted to find those cats. They had 'spoken' to her. They had miaowed to her across the seas from Catlandia. They had catapulted her a message to come to Orgiva. She heard their cry and was compelled to leave on a quest with her then partner. They had one week to make a decision. He left. She stayed. She found the Cortijo and moved in. The Indian lady owner left and did not want the cats after her well known architect husband had died. One was called Katmandu and the other Cielo. Did she want them? You bet! They were hers to have and to hold.
As she related this story, her ex landlady came by. It was obvious they had lost touch completely. After she had gone, Simba told me her sad story. It was her husband's dying wish to have two ginger kittens so his wife got them as a surprise. Sliding doors. Split second timing. She came. She left.
That was 5 years ago. Simba changed her name legally from Catherine to Simbaisisphoenix and is staying forever with Cielo as Katmandu was killed by a jealous neighbour. She met them in the casita in 2011/12 when both the cats became her family. Today in 2016, Cielo is her only family. Her entire world and her only true love. She wrote to me to tell me it is exactly 5 years since the cats came into her life. A synchronistic anniversary you might say. I am sure Katmandu is with her and Cielo in the heavens above in unison spiritually miaowing.
Her partner of two years is Romanian but the cat is the main love of her life and her bed companion. The one she cuddles up to, strokes at night and says Miao to in the morning. Romanians may come and go but cats stay for their 9 lives.
As I predicted, she and her partner have just split. No doubt he could not compete with her love. The love of her life - Cielo.
Written in Patio 19, Malaga, Spain and updated near Salamanca in September 2016.