“What’s that tall stone thing?” Pepe asked, after the two chums had climbed up into yet another tree. “Is it a lighthouse?”
Toto knew the answer. “No. That’s a torre, or a tower”, he replied. “You can find warning towers like this all along the Spanish coast, down by the seaside like this one. The towers are quite old, and they were used to watch out for pirates coming from the sea.”
“Whoa, pirates”, said Pepe. “And what did people do when they saw the pirates coming?”
“Now that’s a good question”, said Toro. “The person on watch at the top, the one who saw the pirates first, would light a fire up at the top of the tower. The towers are made of stone, so you can light a fire up there and the whole tower won’t burn down.”
Toro knew a lot about these Andalusian towers. He is an Andalusian bull, after all. “The watchman in the next tower along the coast, he or she would see the fire, and then light a fire in THAT tower, and then the next tower, and the next… and soon there would be fires all along the coast, and the people would know to run away before the pirates come.”
Pepe thought for a while, and he scratched his head. “Well…”, he said slowly, “So I suppose they ARE a bit like lighthouses after all, because there’s a fire in a lighthouse – or not really a fire, but a bright lamp”.
“Yes”, said Toro. “But the difference is that lighthouses are there to help ships and sailors on the sea to know where there is a harbour, or an island, or some dangerous rocks. These towers here were to help people on the land run away when the pirate ships came.”
“Yep. I see the difference”, nodded Pepe. And then he said: “Hey, Toro, do you remember that day back in Finland, when we climbed right up inside the old lighthouse at Söderskär?”
“Silly! Of course, I remember”, laughed Toro. “That was exciting! We went on the boat. And we climbed up to the very top. All those stairs!”
The lighthouse was very tall. The two friends thought it was quite scary looking down from so high up.
“And we sat on the lamp”, remembered Toro. “It was huge, and we pretended we were lighthouse keepers.”
“Yes, and remember, we played that we had to make sure the lamp was burning brightly, so that ships would see it and would not crash onto the rocks all around the lighthouse”, said Pepe.”
“Oh, I remember it well”, grinned Toro. “And we looked into the room where the real lighthouse keeper slept, when the lighthouse was still working.”
“It was a very small room, and it had Moomin drawings on the walls”, remembered Pepe.
“Here in Spain, we can pretend we are torre watchmen. Well, not watchmen. You can be a watch-bear, and I’m a watch-bull. And we can make sure the pirates don’t come from the sea.”
Pepe and Toro think all towers are very exciting. Whenever they visit the small Spanish white villages, they always want to climb up to the towers of the castle. When the village is in the mountains, there is often an old castle, and the castle often has a tower.
They pretend they are guarding the castle, or they are guarding the whole village.
“We’re on the lookout to make sure no bandits come in”, they declare proudly.
“Because castles are usually high up…
…and you can see a long way.”
When Pepe and Toro play at being castle guards, they have to be careful and to keep moving around the castle walls, because the bandits or the pirates can come from any direction…
But there are times when the two friends just don’t have the energy to be guards, or even to play make-believe games.
Sometimes Pepe and Toro just scramble up the nearest palm tree on the beach and look at the sea.
They are not playing any games, or watching the beach, or imagining they are somewhere else. They just relax and enjoy the gentle swaying of the tree, and rustle of the wind through the branches.
And even more, they enjoy each other’s company. That’s what friends do.