My parents lived in the tiny Principality of Andorra then, near to a little village named Pal high up on the ski slopes above the town of La Massana. I would go to visit them every couple of months.
There was a very windy and treacherous road that led me to them through the high mountain passes. The drive was about four hours from Barcelona to get there in those days.
On the way I always noticed an old mansion just above the valley on my left-hand side. It sat proudly above a steep valley cut into the Pyrenees, and below it a treacherous road and a cold river sliced through the mountains; where frozen ice tumbled down over rounded rocks that had been there forever.
It was a vast house with pine trees that defended it; an ancient Catalan Masia built around an old defensive tower with chimneys that rose high into the sky, but never smoked. It stood so high that clouds enveloped its grey slated roofs. It fascinated me and I wondered who lived in it and about its history.
I often thought to stop to visit the house but I was always in a rush to get to Andorra before night fell – that stretch of winding road up high into the mountains always worried me.
It took me many trips to wind up my courage but one day I set out in the dawn from Barcelona. I wanted to see the house and visit it if possible during daylight. I would not do that in the dark of night.
I turned the car up along an overgrown driveway to the house: gnarled tree branches that had not been cut for decades scraped the windshield and doors of my car.
There was a sign that said ‘Peligro’, or danger in English, and the text ‘Private Property.’
To be continued . . .