News, opinion, essays and links for residents and friends of Mojácar, Almería.
This site, started in September 2002, is called The Entertainer Online to continue The Entertainer name, the name of a weekly newspaper started by me in 1985 which ran without interruption throughout southern Spain until 1999 when a three year option to buy was taken by staffers. They never concluded the deal, or paid me, but changed the name when the option expired in April 2002 instead. Que vamos a hacer.
Overview of this site (Sections at bottom of page)
*Rambeau’s Diary – a blog *Freebie-Jeebies® – Some relaxed comment on the local free-press *Fallout – quotes from other sites *National News Certain pieces that catch my fancy *Local News Certain pieces that catch my fancy *Essays: Various input *Links about Spain (see top of page) about 200 useful links, including my other blog Spanish Shilling - *Now ten years old (Dec 2015). *To e-mail me - write to email@example.com. I don't always answer or open attachments.
The poet Xosei (José in Spanish) Álvarez gave a reading of his favourite sonnets in both Galician and in Spanish to a no-doubt rapt audience at the Mojácar school yesterday. Xosei is currently staying at the Fundación Valparaiso in Las Huertas de Mojácar. The reading was co-sponsored by the Town Hall, thus 'returning Mojácar to the pulse of intellectualism and vanguardism' (says El Almeríahere). In other news, a famous fashion designer called Jesús Vera will present his latest range of clothes - called La Luna de Mojácar - at the Mirador Gallery in Mojácar village on June 18th. However, the most important date for the village is without doubt June 10th to 12th - the Moros y Cristianos.
There are twelve parties in Almería fighting for the vote in the General Elections, to be held just three days after Britain's wretched referendum. So, no Monster Raving Loony Party (unfortunately). The parties are the Partido Popular (conservatives), the PSOE (labour), the Escaños en Blanco (the Don't Vote For Anyone Party), the UPyD (liberals), Ciudadanos (conservatives lite), Recortes Cero-Grupo Verde (no cuts, let's go green - the nutters party), Vox (the far-right party), Partido Animalista Contra el Maltrato Animal, PACMA (the idiotic animalist and forget the humans party), Izquierda Anticapitalists Revolucionaria (loony left nutters party), Unidos Podemos por Andalucía (anti-austerity and corruption group), Partido Comunista de los Pueblos de España (three cheers for Stalin) and the Falange Española de los JONS (three cheers for Franco). On second thoughts, who needs the Monster Raving Loony Party after all?
The former local government of Zurgena, under the mandate of the ex-mayor Cándido Trabalón between the years 2003 and 2007, has once again been acquitted of a crime of prevarication in granting licenses for 41 single-family homes on undeveloped land because it does not appear that the government knew that the technical and favourable legal report were biased and “without specialized urban knowledge, they had no reason to distrust the legality of the licenses”. (Sic!) The owners of the houses in question, all Britons, will therefore not receive compensation, says the judge. Many of the homes were never finished, following an order to cease building back in 2006, while other houses, while complete, have no electric or running water. It is nevertheless the case that a mayor’s responsibility is to create wealth and jobs for his townsfolk: the regional authority has the task of keeping this noble mandate within the bounds of the environmentalists’ strictures. Unemployment in Zurgena has almost tripled since 2007 from 5.6% to 15.4% (April 2016).
Almería is considered, together with Granada, as the best place for tapas. A beer or wine will earn you a free tapa, a small (or, in Almería, not so small) plate of tid-bits: maybe a piece of pork fillet with tomato inside a bun with some French fries, or a slice of swordfish with olives, or a pinchito: bits of spiced pork on a skewer with fried potatoes. Three of these tapas with three drinks to wash it all down, and dinner is solved. From May 27th to July 17th, the city of Almería is organising the ‘route of tapas for solidarity’. This is a plan to help fund the city’s food bank for the needy through a contribution from the participating bars. As the Councillor for the Promotion for the City of Almería says, ‘I am very excited by this idea as one of the biggest attractions of our land is put at the service of solidarity. And it is that our cuisine will lead an exciting and original project which, we hope, will attract the support of all of our citizens’. In all, 27 of Almería’s leading tapa bars say they will be participating.
The BoT newsletter went out this morning to its subscribers - Nº 162. It's called that, because, unlike some other publications around here, it started at Nº 1. Anyhow, it is sent out weekly with Gmail to those selfsame grateful recipients, until this morning, when the whole bloody lot was bounced. Google has apparently decided that it wants to combat 'spam'. Now, it has spam-filters, and normally, one combats spam by stopping it from arriving, not pissing about with those who send it - as they will no doubt find a quick and obvious solution. Besides which, a lot of people send bulk mailing. And it would be nice to warn them that they are going to be inconvenienced (at some ungodly hour). So, as the whole subscription list was bounced this morning, I sent them all out again on another email I have. A proper one, evidently. Meanwhile, as I await for an answer from Gmail, I wonder what these people are thinking. Aren't they meant to be veerryy clever?
With one thing and another – world-wide asset tax declarations, strict retroactive planning rules, new home-rental rules, the re-think on the padrón (both by the authorities and the foreign residents), higher prices and the ageing foreigners themselves – there’s no doubt but that the number of Northern Europeans living in Spain full-time is now waning. It’s strange to think such a thing, as many of us live in small coastal towns which we somehow think of as large thriving metropolises rather than what they really are – small yet wealthy towns which are about an hour’s run down the motorway from the nearest influential city. Spain has put all of its eggs into the tourist business. Tourists can be handled easily. They are under the watchful and cupidous eye of a relatively small number of very wealthy players who protect their turf through government contacts, cut-throat discounts and the control of the airports best located for mass tourism. A massive business indeed that makes up a sizeable part of the national GDP. But what might happen, as Egypt, Tunisia and even Belgium can tell you, if a major crisis occurs? Terror, or a natural disaster, or a major accident, a sudden hike in the price of oil, or even a sharp and killing heat-wave are all possible – and they can hardly be anticipated. Tourists can easily re-book to another country. Residents, however, must normally stay until they can find a buyer. Spain had the chance to be the Florida of Europe, but the giant income from this sensible course of action would be spread too thinly. So instead we have major tourism: in the hands of the few. Editorial from Business over Tapas.
Too Many Tourists? Wait Until the Summer Really Gets Going!
Tuesday 24 May 2016 - 03:23:56
There comes a time when there are just too many tourists. Thailand, for example, has just closed off an island because of 'the destruction to the habitat by the over-exploitation of tourism'. A recent study quoted in El País said that '...1,184 million people visited another country for pleasure in 2015 and that in 2016, this number should increase by another 4% or so...'. Lots of tourists, who have every right to their two foreign holidays a year, and would somebody please think of the shopkeepers. In towns like Mojácar, painted and prepped for the visitors (at least 5% of us have businesses here), tourism is said to be 'our only industry'. Not so long ago, it used to be 'building' or selling homes to eager prospective residents. Now, it's tourism. Certainly, we have a huge number of 'beds' (the hotel variety: short-term rentals are frowned upon by the authorities) and we have a huge number of tourists. They can find their own entertainment easily enough in the bars, the restaurants, on the beaches or hiking into the hills. They can (and do) cycle around in enormous lycra-lit crocodiles along our narrow roads, inconveniencing the other traffic. They can fill our entire road system with blocked traffic, from the gas-station to the beach, and all along the playa, smog pumping impatiently from their exhausts. They can take our parking spaces and get into the queues in front of us to get water at the fountain, something from the shop or a bandage at the medical centre. But, it has to be said, they do bring money to our local businessmen, some of whom even stay here for the winter. Perhaps the worst thing about tourism is their enthusiasm, much encouraged by the tourist office, for local fiestas. How many local people have found that they can't get in to the show, or see the attractions, or find a vantage spot, or have a drink afterwards, because of the massed throng of the enthusiastic visitors? We pay for our fiestas in taxes to entertain the tourists, who give their money to the shopkeepers. Maybe the Thais have a point.
It's been a year since the local elections. In Mojácar, on the day after the results were known, the mayoress tearfully let go her translator that all the British (and Rosmari supporters) were so fond of, the lovely Francesca. Mojácar might have a majority of foreigners (an article at Almeria24 says there are 3,486 foreigners out of a total population of 6,838 - although, of course, many of these, particularly the Brits, aren't listed here as they never bothered to register on the padrón), but the town is run in an iron grip by the locals. But wait, one of the councillors herself speaks English - María Luisa Pérez. Well, that solved that problem. Indeed, in the Almeria24 article, the writer (following what must be a press release from the ayuntamiento) feels that this really is a solution. An English-speaking councillor in charge of (and only member of) 'La Concejalía de Atención al Ciudadano de Habla no Española'. It's no secret that Mojácar Town Hall has a swollen staff. Oddly, not one of them comes from the foreigners (despite many of them having gone through the local school system). Most Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca towns - even a couple of Almería ones - do rather better for their foreign conciudadanos than this, with a proper foreign department run by multi-lingual foreign staff. Now, that's integración.
Like anyone worth billions, the head of Zara (and second richest man in the world) Amancio Ortega has his detractors. Recently, however, his foundation has been giving generous donations to various hospitals and other good causes. This week, it was revealed that the Fundación Amancio Ortega had given the Andalucian health service (SAS) forty million euros to buy 21 linear accelerator radiotherapy cancer units, three of which will go to the Almería Torrecárdenas Hospital. These units will be placed in exterior 'bunkers' outside the hospital to contain radiation emissions, the work to be completed in three years. Story at Idealhere.
There was once a TV show about police on bicycles whizzing about, catching villains aplenty. 'Pacific Blue' it was called (I had to look it up). Evidently someone in Almería likes the show, and has brought a real-life version to the streets of that city. So far, as the project is tested, nine municipal cops are losing a few extra kilos as they peddle furiously around the provincial capital on its inexhaustible kilometres of bike-lanes. Can Mojácar, with its gentle hills, be far behind?