The Horta of Feliu

They called him Feliu because he was small. Instead of using his name Rafael, and being so short, they called him Rafeliu and from this name, Feliu remained at last. He was small until he was thirteen and thereafter he began to grow and became a robust and healthy man. Feliu was born and grew up in the Horta, and it seemed to him that he was in the most beautiful place in the world, although sometimes he doubted if this were because he had not seen anything else. He doubted that there was another place with a bluer sky and a brightness like that of his land.

The fields with the incipient seed and those flowering almond trees of February in calm, snowing with their petals of pure whiteness the tender green of the soil, were for him the supreme beauty of the pulsating nature. Feliu went up to the defence towers, fortresses of 1594 that remained intact, to contemplate the wonderful spectacle of the aurora, and he watched with infinite emotion the emergence of the ignited disk of the sun from the waters of the Mediterranean, transparent waters in which he enjoyed swimming almost every day of the year. His land was fertile and in them people grew diverse and appreciated vegetables that travelled to distant countries.

His land was wonderful, but one day he had to abandon it, the sinister trumpet of war sounded and full of strength and illusions he marched into battle. There, he distinguished himself by his dedication and bravery for which he got rewarded with honours and stars, but after much fighting he lost the last battle, he had to take refuge in a friendly country that sheltered him and after twenty years of nostalgic absence, he returned to his households.

He arrived in the city on a rainy and cold December morning and leaving the railway station took the tram number four that would take him to his beloved Horta. As soon as he left the city he saw that there were many clearings in the almond trees groves, some uncultivated parcels and new buildings, as well as some increase in the traffic of vehicles in the old N-332.

I. BuadesAlready in the middle of the Horta, large plantations of tomatoes like he had never seen before. When he arrived home his parents were no longer present, and the other relatives recognized him because he carried a suitcase with foreign stickers. His hair was all white and he had lost the look of a former ‘hortelano’ (gardener).

The next day, anxious as he was to see the Horta, he walked there, and soon he found that it had begun to disappear, for although there were some important tomato plantations of foreign companies, the disappearance of almost half of the almond trees was notorious and the pruning and farm works were far from the days of his youth. Feliu observed the new buildings and the many cars with foreign plates that circulated there, as he also observed that the sky was still the same blue of always and the sun was the implacable Lorenzo of the old days of mowing and threshing, and understood that his beloved Horta had initiated the sure path that would lead it to be a splendid area of progress and tourism of international fame.

Isidro Buades. Official Chronicler of Sant Joan d’Alacant

Did you know that…?

Isidro Buades Ripoll was appointed Official Chronicler of the Villa of Sant Joan d’Alacant on 24 November 1992. Almost a quarter of a century later, he remains committed to the cause and the service of the town were he was born. Isidro Buades is one of the most important, dear and indispensable persons to know what it was and what it is nowadays the municipality of Sant Joan d’Alacant, its Horta and its customs. Currently, the Council of Culture through the Municipal Library has digitized the entire work of Mr. Isidro, in addition to the bulletins of the Lloixa Cultural Association.

Mr. Isidro was born on 12 November 1928 in the Horta d’Alacant, on the Santiago de la Condomina estate and tower located in the municipality of Alicante but that belonged to the Parish of Sant Joan d’Alacant, so it has existed between the neighbouring municipalities. Mr. Isidro lived from the agriculture until he turned 25 years old. Later he devoted himself to the transport sector.

Over the years, his link to Sant Joan was greater: his residence, the birth of his children and the farmer’s work, such as attending to the water market, having some farm tools repaired or even grinding grain in the Mill of the casa de la Maigmona.

In spite of leaving the Horta, Mr. Isidro always had it present and knew how to combine his true vocation, the writing, with the traditions of the Horta, which he wrote on paper throughout his life telling stories that the older people transmitted to him.

When the municipality of Sant Joan d’Alacant was left without a chronicler, the municipal Town Council did not hesitate that he was the adequate person to continue this work and Mr. Isidro accepted the position with great enthusiasm. Last 9 October 2011, the year in which the 20th anniversary of his appointment as a chronicler was celebrated, he was honoured in the locality, being a very emotional moment for him and his family.

Mr. Isidro was the seventh son of the family. His parents were Magdalena Ripoll Pérez, a good wife and excellent mother and José Buades Terol, who was the Mayor of Orgegia and Albufereta during the reign of Alfonso XIII until the first years of the Franco dictatorship. During the Civil War, his father kept the constitutional order in that district protecting in his house people persecuted by their ideology. As he was respected by the people, neither he nor his safeguards were ever bothered, regardless of the political party to which they belonged.

Likewise, Mr. José Buades was vice-president of the Irrigation Union of the Horta of the Tibi’s reservoir. He was also transmitter and expert of the customary law of the Horta ‘els Costums’ and therefore, for his seriousness and his manliness of good, he was required to solve problems of partition of inheritances or in the application of old rights and duties in plantations, irrigation, obligations with the fruits and care of trees in boundaries and all the other ways to do things right in the Horta d’Alacant. This knowledge ‘Hortelano’ was inherited by Mr. Isidro. On 12 February 1942 his father passed away in the Torre de Santiago at the age of 63, who would be baptized by the neighbourhood like the “Pare de l’Horta” (father of the Horta). On 11 May 2012, at the request of the Alicante Vivo Association, José Buades Terol Park was inaugurated in his memory.

His maternal grandparents were named Ramón Ripoll Iborra (Ivorra) and Magdalena Pérez Gosálvez, a promising young lady who came to live in the house of the Counts of Soto Ameno in the finca Soto. His paternal grandparents were named Josefa Terol y Lledó and Manuel Buades Baeza.

The family of Mr. Isidro, linked to agriculture, had vineyards in the Horta d’Alacant of Monastrell vine until it succumbed to phylloxera, but there were small vineyards in dry land that were not affected. In his parents estate, Condomina, where his grandfather was first tenant until his father bought it, they produced up to 20,000 litres per year of Fondillon wine that were sold to France.

In 1958, Isidro married Elvira García Santonja, a very beloved woman with great sense of humour. Mr. Isidro is the father of two daughters (Ana María and Mª Elvira) and a son (José Isidro) who have provided him with 5 grandchildren. Mr. Isidro, died in February 2019 at the age of 90, worked as a chronicler until his last days and to him we owe all the horticultural heritage that has endured in Sant Joan d’Alacant and that is compiled in digital format to everyone’s delight. Thank you Mr. Isidro for your generosity and wisdom.