Spy Girl – Expecting the Spanish Inquisition
The memo from HQ reads as follows: Olive stones. Very dubious involvement of suspect from Morocco. Go to La Bobadilla. Find out all you can. Sorely tempted to try out my new sedative dart gun on the outward flight full of frightful stags and hens, before I arrive in Malaga. The thought of someone with a speech impediment saying flight full of frightful keeps me amused for longer than I care to admit. Perhaps I should avoid wine in the sky.
The transfer to La Bobadilla takes 40 minutes. The hotel owns 1,000 acres of private land and all these olive trees, the chauffeur says. He points out the stables and helipad. Damn the cuts that put an end to travelling in style.
You know, he continues, we use our own olive pips to make hot water. Sounds suspect. Am I going to be force-fed olives to earn a shower?
We arrive at the hotel which is on the highest point of the estate. A cluster of whitewashed buildings with terracotta roofs. Like any traditional Andalucian village. Only with staff instead of locals. I could live with that.
I’m in the Alhambra Suite. The 360-degree views: stunning. Olive groves as far as the eye can see. The Sierra Nevada in the distance, with windmills lining the horizon not unlike an army.
The hotel is made up of a cluster of buildings, also with terracotta roofs. On one side there’s an enormous outdoor pool surrounded by palm trees, on the other an outhouse. I ask the concierge to tell me about it.
Ah yes, we are all very proud of the boiler, he says. We make clean energy. We power all the hotels hot water and heating with olive pips.
Turns out it wasn’t just the chauffeur who appears to have an unnatural obsession with pips.
Can I have a tour?
Of course, señora, of course.
We make our way down the hill.
All the olives from the estate are harvested, explains the engineer in charge of the boiler. The flesh is used for olive oil and the pips are brought back here to fuel the boiler. We are expecting a large delivery today.
Biomass energy. Nothing too suspect there, surely? And, apart from the hotels fountains and marble columns, I don’t see the Moroccan connection.
Hungry, I head to La Finca restaurant and order caviar. They serve RioFrio, the worlds only organically farmed caviar. Worthwhile mission for this alone.
My phone starts bleeping. The observation camera I set up on my balcony has detected movement. I pull up a few photos. A convoy of cars. And a truck. All making their way up the driveway. It must be the olive stone delivery man.
Are you here for the wedding? Asks the waiter.
There’s a wedding?
Yes, yes, in our chapel. It’s a big deal the mayor’s daughter is marrying a Moroccan. They’re arriving now! Everyone will be celebrating this evening. You must join us, señora.
I leave the restaurant. Wedding guests are gathering in the courtyard. I partake by taking a glass of champagne. And head to my room.
I look down at the outhouse. No sign of life. The delivery man must have gone. I better do a quick background check on the groom. Its easy enough to find his name. Its been all over the Andalucian press. The engagement that is. I enable a remote link to the system at HQ. He’s 32, says the ID database. Family from Casablanca. Phosphate exporters. Wealthy. One of four brothers. Educated in Madrid.
Nothing out of the ordinary. Could this mission be a whim from a green skeptic at HQ? There must be something fishy with this new-fangled technology, I can hear them say.
I’d better go and join the celebrations. It’s the only way to make sure I’m on hand if anything does happen. Maybe I’ll have to test my sedative dart gun on the stags and hens, after all. SPY GIRL