The Spanish tourism fairs and 'road shows'. What fun! You eat endless amounts of shrimp, drink fino, play with your mound of posters and catalogues, and talk to your colleagues from the other tourist-hungry towns in your area. There may be a meeting or two, as easily handled outside the 'fairground' or for another day, but the ferias must go on. So now, as we wait for the hordes to come to visit our 'Rincón de Embrujo' (as Mojácar styles itself), we'll go and attend a fair. The latest just completed was unsurprisingly 'todo un éxito' and involved the 'Costa de Almería' showing itself to the good people of Jaén, Málaga (!), Córdoba, Seville and Granada. Over 150 travel agencies showed up for the five-day whirlwind tour. Where will we put them all? Spain has a giant tourist industry, the fourth largest in the world (although one wonders at the numbers - it's much easier to drop into Spain from another country than it is to the world tourism leader USA, for example). And, despite the massive energy (and budget) spent on promoting tourism here - the main attractions are (and remain) the sun, the sea, the cheap booze and the chickens and chips.
Run! Run for Your Life! (Better Drop by your Bank First)
Saturday 11 May 2013 - 11:26:14
With the alarming headline: 'Spain is officially insolvent: get your money out while you still can', The Telegraph runs a story that continues - 'I'd not noticed this until someone drew my attention to it, but the latest IMF Fiscal Monitor, published last month, comes about as close to declaring Spain insolvent as you are ever likely to see in official analysis of this sort. Of course, it doesn't actually say this outright. The IMF is far too diplomatic for such language. But that's the plain meaning of its latest forecasts, which at last have an air of realism about them, rather than being the usual dose of wishful thinking. Let's take the projected budget deficit first. This is expected to decline quite steeply this year to 6.6 per cent of GDP, but that's mainly because the cost of bailing out the banking sector fell substantially on last year's budget. On a like-for-like basis, there has in fact been very little fall in the underlying deficit. And nor on the present policy mix is there ever likely to be, for that's where the deficit is projected to remain until the end of the IMF's forecasting horizon in 2018'... El Mundo and other Spanish papers run the story, letting the comments section tell of Spain's indignation at the British article... The writer for The Telegraph article defended his position the following day (today) with a second piece which points out - '...Mine is not a story as such – it is what used to be called a "scoop of interpretation". I've merely taken some quite alarming IMF forecasts and drawn some obvious conclusions from them. Perhaps I'm wrong – that there is no solvency problem in Spain. If so, my words will carry no weight. That's the thing about bank runs'...
One poster that sometimes wanders across our Facebook is a thing called 'Plataforma Popular Por La Eliminación De Las Comunidades Autónomas', which probably seems sensible enough (if a touch 'facha'), since the 17 autonomies plus Ceuta and Melilla do spend an awful lot of money (for example, between them, they have 149 'embassies' - or more likely business offices - set up in different capital cities abroad), besides stealing an alarming amount in commissions, fraud and honest if misguided lunacies of various descriptions. Anyhow, my blue-shirted Facebook mates may have, after all, lost the plot today as I see they support a 'Get Puerto Rico and Cuba returned to Spain' thread (with 340 'likes')... In the seventies and eighties, Spaniards of a certain political opinion used to wear a sticker of the Spanish flag on their metal watch fasteners (or stuck on the back of their Fasa Renaults).
Later: Someone has sent me a petition - which ends ...'people in Puerto Rico deserve freedom and democracy. Give Puerto Rico back to Spain'. So far, 14 people have signed (is that enough, I wonder?). There was probably a similar one for Cuba, but they arrested the proposers...
El País in English has a story I couldn't resist: 'The Spanish Navy's Isaac Peral submarine, part of the new S-80 series commissioned from state-owned shipbuilder Navantia, has a serious problem — it is between 75 and 100 tonnes too heavy. The excess — the result of miscalculations at the engineering stage — may not sound like much compared with the sub's 2,200-tonne weight when floating and 2,430 tonnes when submerged, but could compromise its ability to submerge and re-emerge. Navantia, which has never built a submarine before, has admitted the existence of "deviations related to the balance of weights," as reported by La Verdad de Murcia, and estimated that correcting the problem will mean a delay of 12 to 24 months on the March 2015 delivery date. The firm says it is planning to bring in a foreign advisor to solve the problem'...
Now we have a golden chance to support Mojácar, wave the old football scarf about in an enthusiastic manner, sing ooee ooee and, in my case at least, see the new stadium from the inside. The Club Deportivo Mojácar is playing a key game on Sunday at 8.00pm against Bellavista and, if they win, then the team will up for the eliminatories for promotion to the next division, the Preferente Andaluza. Free entrance and free beer (now you're talking).
There wasn't room for Thursday's Día de Europa in Mojácar's cluttered festival calender which has a three-day event from Friday called La Fiesta de San Isidro which includes the rigorously local Romería on Sunday, picnic in traditional clothes. San Isidro's actual feast-day, by the way, is May 15th. The event also appears to have thunder-flash fireworks on Saturday, slightly at odds with Rosmari's plan to keep the town whisper-quiet. Torrevieja, I notice, has an international Día de Europa festival, as does Córdoba, Madrid, Murcia, Barcelona... and the PSOE Euro-parliamentarian Juan Moscoso proposed in Pamplona today that the Día de Europa should be made a national fiesta. Still, Mojácar has never been a great champion of integration.
A three bedroom holiday villa with swimming pool, rent by the week (for how long will that be allowed?)... all in the jolly town of Mojácar. I read a bit more. Well, almost in the jolly town of Mojácar, actually it's in Cortijo Cabrera (Turre) at what is describes as a place where 'you will enjoy great privacy but are within 10 minutes drive to the local market town and 20 minutes from Mojacar Playa with miles of sand'. Holiday Lettings from Trip Advisor. The advert also says 'Turre in Mojacar' and '1 of 151 holiday rentals in Mojacar'. The link on Google says '3 bedroom villa in Mojacar to rent...'. So, what to expect? Cortijo Cabrera is actually a beautiful place, high in the hills; it has astonishing views, two very good restaurants up there and the whole thing was built in its entirety by a proper architect (which is something around here). But, it's very isolated and, perhaps, not entirely where the advertiser suggests...?
The Diputación (county council) has solved Almería's balance of payments at a stroke. Tourism, as we know, is the panacea for all of our problems, especially when handled by, uhh, experts! Forget 'residential tourism' where just one family can spend 250,000€ on a house, buy a new car, pump money into the community 365 days of the year, hire the odd local to garden, plaster, paint, clean and so on, for our experts have better ideas. Ban short-term house rentals, noisy drinking and playing dominoes, instead let's promote camping tourism for central-European campers! Fresh from the Almería promotion in Southern Spain (shades of Mojácar posters plastered... all over Mojácar), the Patronato Provincial de Turísmo is brushing up their Czech-google-speak and launching a promotion together with camp-site owners to bring central-European caravaneers to the province during the 'low-season'. They also plan to stop all caravans from parking... outside of campsites (it's for their own good).
Later: Miguel Ríos, president of the Spanish caravan association PACA said on the Almería radio in reaction to the Diputación's plans about having to stay overnight in a campsite: 'They forget that the camper van is a vehicle that is regulated by the general rules of circulation and has a title approved by the Ministry of Industry as housing'. In short, you can park your Winniebago wherever you can park a car...
'...A few months ago, while on holiday in Spain I had to drive to a radio station in Marbella to record some alterations to a TV advertising voice-over. While I was there, I happened to pick up one of the many English-language newspapers that serve the Costa del Sol - The Euro Weekly News - in which I found a column that made my heart skip. It was written by a man called Leapy Lee, who had a hit in 1968 with a song called "Little Arrows," and who was later sent to prison following a fight in a pub which also involved an actor called Alan Lake (husband of the Fifties' starlet Diana Dors). Yes, that's my idea of the perfect columnist, some minor expat singer with a criminal record and views tailor-made for his audience of drink-sozzled, golf-playing Costa Brits. Sure enough, Leapy didn't let me down. His column employs a folksy, jaunty style, laced with references to his "dear old mum" and his idyllic Essex childhood to express his ludicrously reactionary views on Iran's possession of nuclear weapons, asylum seekers to the UK, Jihadist terrorists who are "nothing more than dog's droppings in the swimming pool of decent humanity" and the general state of the world. As my dear old mum would say, you can keep your Aaronovitches, your Melanie Phillipses and your Rees Moggs - it's Leapy Lee for me'. (Alexei Sayle in The Independent. September 2006). Heh!
There are two types of plenary meetings in the Town Hall, 'ordinarios' and 'extraordinarios'. The first type should be held at least once every two months (in Mojácar on the last Thursday of the second month) and these plenos allow the opposition to ask questions, make suggestion and blow off some steam. The second type are called when the mayor wants something expedited, in Mojácar's case, with her rubber-stamp majority. Like the bar-hours... or the noise ordinance. Some town halls (checking up here on Google) have plenos ordinarios every month! Recent 'ordinary' plenos have been cancelled in Mojácar - the January one because the mayoress was at FITUR in Madrid, the March one because it was Easter. The next one, the end of May, will be a weary six months after the last one! This state of affairs has been denounced by Mojácar Se Mueve in an Almería Court. See below for their press release: