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.
I was asked to help correct a short essay on why cannabis should be legalised. A few spelling errors and a re-work of a couple of points and voilá: all done. But, I asked, isn't that rather a bad idea, your essay is part of an entry for a government post in - gasp! - the USA. No, it's all changing over there: marijuana is now seen as beneficial, a good tax-earner, harmless and is only illegal because of the twin evils of big corporarate greed (especially from, naturally enough, the drug companies) and from the narcotic drug pushers and their crime lord bosses, who would understandably hate to see it legalised. You don't have to be a 'user' to be a supporter. Here in Spain, where users abound in large numbers (and supporters too), we read of the cops finding plantations of weed on a daily basis - here's today's story in Ideal ('Two arrested for transporting 108 marijuana plants in a refrigerated lorry'). In Spain, for Goodness sake. The War on Weed is over - the Americans are giving up and spending their efforts on more important things. Spain currently allows one to (quietly) grow a plant or two for home-consumption. Meanwhile, money is wasted on expensive lawyers and overcrowded jails. Legalise and tax it!
Until recently, Mojácar was famous for its bars. It had (has?) after all, more drinking spots than Norwich. My dad built and opened the first foreign bar here - La Sartén - in 1967, but, in truth, there were a couple of places which were going even before then - El Montemar and El Rancho del Mar were both French/Algerian restaurants located on the beach (Franco gave the pied-noirs special privileges in Spain), and in the village, there was the El Pimiento disco, run by Felipe Kirsch (French Morocco) and the Zuri Guri, a small club run by Julia Hope and some partners from Madrid. Anyhow, lots of bars in the village, lots more on the beach. Mojácar is now more famous as a member of the 'beautiful villages of Spain' and a place to buy cheap souvenirs while staying at an all-inclusive hotel on the way to Garrucha than a party-town and the birthplace of the Indalo. It all makes sense to someone. Anywho, the resort was host earlier this week to a celebration and meetings for 'World Alcohol-free Day'. Now, if that doesn't sound fun, I don't know what does.
I went up to Mojácar pueblo last night - a Friday - to have a few beers. I went into one popular bar and found the barman reading a book and drinking a Sprite (the devil). 'Bit quiet', I said. 'Well, no one comes up to the village anymore, especially with the work going on in the square', he said as he served me a drink. I went to another bar. There the owner was looking at his iPhone and drinking a cup of tea. 'Bit quiet', I said, after he had poured me a beer. Ahh, tourist towns, don't you love them? Either completely empty, or too full to park anywhere. So anyhow, what with it being a Friday night, I went to Turre, a town with no beaches, no hotels, indeed, with no tourists at all. There was one bar filled with customers and offering live rock n roll, another place full of Brits watching a football match on the TV, another with tapas and hungry customers...
According to the local daily 'Ideal', fines in Almería City of up to 750€ are to be issued against owners of dogs who poop (the dogs, not the owners, of course) in the streets of that fine city. Excessive, or fair game? The newspaper says they are mainly after dogs, but other pets will be equally responsible (what pets, who takes a cat for a walk?). The campaign is called 'Todos sufrimos tus cacas' (we all suffer from your poopies) and, besides elaborate advertising for the newspapers, there is also a website called www.limpiatrastumascota.es - a fascinating site with lots of poop pictures. Meanwhile, in one town in Valencia, they are forcing all owners (or face a fine) to have their dogs' DNA recorded. Thus, any poop can be traced to the owner. Weird perhaps... but why not? So, take a little baggy with you when walking with Fido.
I went to court yesterday. A mojaquero I know has a shed on a piece of land above the village. He collects junk and stores it there, taking it off to the yards in Cuevas now and again for a few shillings. The land in question, an urban postage-stamp in the 'Jewish Quarter' of the village, was bought by my mother back in 1966 for what would now be 500€. A tidy sum back then. I found the old compra-venta last year (witnessed by Juan García, who would be mayor in the nineties) and went to see if I could get an escritura. The land had 'no owner' according to the registro, and I would need to get the agreement of the property neighbours (one lived in Barcelona another in France and so on...). I was merrily doing this (and imagining the party I would have when I sold the land and gave a tip to the 'lodger') when I was told that a local creature, who knew about the lack of ownership, had wangled it into his name through a court process. In short: it's his. España, eh? So, the lodger comes to see me, says he has been denounced by the surprise owner for squatting and can I help. 'When?' I asked. 'Right this morning. Now', he said. So, I go to court, and I tell the judge that I had allowed the chap to store his stuff on what I considered (as do all the neighbours by the way) as my land. He'll still have to leave, but at least he won't get fined, which is something. See? Nothing's safe here.
I joined Andrew Mortimer and Jim Simpson (together, we have started a group called Europats to help protect British and other European expatriates from national pressures and injustices) to discuss the subject of residences for the elderly. The meeting took place in the magnificent offices of the Subdelegación del Gobierno en Almería - the senior representation of the national government at a provincial level. We were greeted kindly by the subdelegado himself, Andres García Lorca, and then left in the capable hands of Luis Hernández (Secretary General) Juan Ramón Fernández Imbernón (Chief of Work and Immigration) to discuss this and other issues regarding the British living in Almería. Sr Hernández knew down to the last figure exactly how many British live in the province (at least, as we agreed, those registered on the padrón). Our talk was, of course, about the threats of Brexit to this community and the possible loss of income to the province at large, but we concentrated our discussions more on the issue of the elderly foreign residents. We also agreed that the small interior towns of Almería were haemorrhaging population to the cities, in search of work, culture and society. The solution to these issues could be to encourage building residences for the elderly in some of the pretty but depressed areas of the province, creating locally both wealth and employment. These would prove, we suggested, very popular if the recipe was right. Now, with so many Spanish doctors and nurses in the UK, conversant or fluent in English, and perhaps keen to return to a job in Spain, a good idea would be to take this idea forward. The two senior members were intrigued and pleased by the idea and agreed to help. They will discuss it further with the diputación (the county council) and invite us to the meeting.
Today I was invited to give a talk to a class-room filled with officers and NCOs from the Spanish Legion based in Viator. The class was given in English in the Misericordia military barracks down in Almería City. I talked about 'Brexit' (Heh!) which went down pretty well, although one of the trickier questions was about Gibraltar. Explain that one in a room full of soldiers! My fellow-teacher for the morning was Jim Simpson, the British councillor in the Zurgena town hall, who spoke of Neighbourhood Watch. Jim was a policeman in the UK before moving here some twelve years ago. The session was organised by Andy Mortimer, who is the main English teacher (and translator) for the Legion in Almería.
There's a debate on one of our local Facebook pages - as to whether Mojácar needs yet more tourism and this for a longer season? Depressingly, most people say 'yes'. I can see shop-owners anxious to sell even more made-in-China souvenirs, being keen on the rush of suitably vulgar tourists buying their junk, as they excitedly get on the phone to their supplier for more rubbish, and perhaps the cheaper restaurants like the idea (although most of the trippers get their meals thrown in - literally - at the mega-hotels that bracket our resort). But for the rest of us, those who live rather than work here? What's in it for us? I often wonder why we don't have a McDonalds (it would drive the other villages wild). We certainly have too many bars and restaurants, and together with the criminally high rents extorted by the owners, many of them will go bust after the money runs out. A useful tip here: the mojaqueros don't go to any bars or restaurants that aren't owned by their immediate family. So, a sensible town hall would have a limit to bars, restaurants, chiringuitos and so on - perhaps a system of liquor licences. It's better ten full bars than fifty empty ones. I mean - for the customers as well! But, the call for extra tourism. Not the type that stays in the guest bedroom, or rents an apartment (frowned on by both the tax authority and of course their pals the hoteliers), but for ever larger numbers to be billeted in the larger establishments wondering why they didn't chose Benidorm this year. Hoards of visitors clomping stolidly up and down the pavement, looking for another souvenir to acquire. What on earth is wrong with less but wealthier tourism? Instead of a plastic wrist-band with their name picked out in midget sea-shells, they might go to a boutique - or even buy a house! We really don't have the room - there's only the one road along the beach, crammed seasonally as we drive up and we drive down: too many vehicles even for the police controls, who work like black spiders, pouncing aimlessly on every fiftieth car... And now, in the quiet months, no one wants to risk it for a drink in the pueblo, which is sepulchral and bored. The argument for 'quality tourism' - in a small resort, is obvious, but we would have to improve our game. If the car park only holds room for ten vehicles - isn't it better that they should be Beemers rather than rusty Ladas? Huge queues in the summer, gridlock and the shops out of Marmite - who enjoys this? Juana might prefer to sell cartons and crates of cigs to the legions of pasty-faced Brits as they wait in a line, coughing wetly into their handkerchiefs, but are we all here to serve Juana, and doesn't she have enough money yet? Today, I was awakened once again at 6.00am by the macerator over at the cluster of hotels in the Marina de la Torre (several kilometres away) as it pumped untold hectolitres of poop into the Mediterranean. The process was noisier than usual, and lasted for twenty minutes. The Parador on the other hand, where the wealthy visitors stay, is quiet.
The OJD is the official number of ‘useful’ copies printed by newspapers and sold/given away. They are, once again, universally down, as readers turn to their Internet editions (or other, often more reliable news sources). La Opinión de Almería has the latest numbers showing first of all that all Andalusian daily newspapers are down over last year (September figures) and, together, now have a disposal rate of under100,000 copies between them. The ‘nationals’ are even worse, with El País, the largest (non-sports) newspaper in Spain dropping 20% in a year to a current 174,000 copies daily. With the freebies, I guess some people read them on Internet - mostly, though, they are useful just for the fireplace...
An article in a German newspaper here has a woman lawyer warning her children not to speak German while they are together in public in London. It begins: ‘Since the Brexit referendum, xenophobia has grown in England. Even the foreigners remember this in their everyday life there. A "we and you" has been born. Now come the consequences’. It’s one of those silly articles that fill newspapers, perhaps, but no doubt it is generated by the stories of racist attacks against foreigners while out in public in the UK. These attacks are, of course, rare, but the advice, along the same lines as ‘don’t take sweets from a stranger’, is sensible enough (if slightly horrifying). Will stuff like this ever arrive in Spain? Outside of an encounter near the wrong football stadium, probably not, thank Goodness!