Saturday, November 14, 2015


El Parque Desastroso de los del Medio Ambiente

I occasionally publish something in Spanish - at El Indálico, Actualidad Almanzora or, as here, La Opinión de Almería. This is about the Boticario Park just outside the City of Almería:

El Parque Desastroso de los del Medio Ambiente
Lenox Napier
Un mojaquero británico

Uno de los éxitos de la Consejería del  Medio Ambiente –y la verdad, no tienen muchos reclamos en Almería– es el Parque Botánico del Boticario, ubicado en los Llanos de las Cañadas, en la capital. El parque fue pensado como un escaparate de todos la flora almeriense puesta en un lugar, una estancia de catorce hectáreas. Un grupo de jardineros, unos visionarios y un nutrido grupo de contables, abogados y, sobre todo, políticos se pusieron mano a la obra en los primeros años del siglo actual para conseguir fondos europeos para  realizar en 2005, como dice ‘Almeriapedia’, “…una extensión de 14 hectáreas en las que se ha intentado recrear los distintos paisajes de la provincia y que cuentan con más de 1.300 árboles, 2.000 arbustos y 75.000 plantas”.

La verdad es que es una maravilla. Trabajaron bien los planificadores y el parque nació dividido en varias zonas –un Jardín árabe (“una recreación del Jardín del Paraíso”, como dice la misma fuente); un parque forestal, con muchos ejemplares de árboles autóctono; zonas húmedas; un parque botánico; bancos,  alamedas… y hasta unas cuantas maquinas tipo “biopark” para los mayores. A su lado, hay un restaurante privado, un parque infantil, un tipo que alquila cochecitos de pedal y un amplio sitio para dejar el coche.

Lo malo es que un parque así necesita mucha agua, mucho cuidado y un ejército de jardineros. En una palabra, mucha pasta. Por esta sensible razón, la Consejería intentó (y volvemos a la fuente antes citada) “…ceder al Ayuntamiento de Almería, pero sin embargo, ni Junta de Andalucía ni Ayuntamiento de Almería se han puesto de acuerdo para concretar dicha cesión”.

Así están las cosas. A consecuencia de esta negación, los del parque tuvieron que sufrir algunas economías: por esto existen los contables. La evidencia de varias visitas mías a lo largo de este año me enseña que no hay ningún jardinero (quizás uno sale por los noches, de esto no se sabe). No hay agua; hasta la recreación del Jardín del Paraíso está media seca, sin plantas, y con sus acequias llenos de fango y basura.

Los árboles están más o menos bien, entre algunos secos o mal cuidados. Los prolíficos chumbos (y nosotros pensando que el nopal fue “una planta invasora”), cubiertos en enfermedad, mosca blanca y muertos. A lo largo de todo el parque, en cuanto de “las 75.000 plantas”, sencillamente no queda ni una. La zona húmeda tiene un escondite para contemplar a los pájaros, pero el agua está muy sucia y, de pajaritos, no hay ni una. En el verano, durante otra visita mía, tampoco había agua: lo que hay actualmente viene de la lluvia. Quizás la cosa más chocante es el estado de las maquinas absurdas para los mayores: están oxidadas, destruidas o sencillamente ausentes.

¿Un desastre entonces? No, al contrario, es una maravilla. Catorce hectáreas de alamedas arboladas, muy poca gente, una tranquilidad espléndida y un muy buen bar a la salida, llamado El Álamo.

Saturday, November 07, 2015


Portrait of Seville

Picture by Alfredo Piris. The artist was in Mojácar for a time in 1983. The picture is the view, he told me, from his lodgings in Seville. It looks to me like he couldn't afford the Hotel Alfonso XII.
I was studying at The International School in Spain in 1970, normally in Ronda, but while it was being repaired, in Seville at the British Institute. The school was fun - you could smoke in the classroom, there were girls (I'd been used to the monastic curriculum of a British Public School), American kids... and I lived somewhere in the city, and commuted to my studies (such as they were) on a motorbike. The headmaster was a writer on Spain called Alistair Boyd, who lived in Ronda.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Toy Story

Well, look at that. A small boy playing with what might be considered by an old-fashioned and irredeemably sexist parent as girl's toys. Boys and girls are all one now and it's our job as parents to make this plain. The picture is just one page in the new toy catalogue from Toy Planet (see it here) as approved by Spain's loveys and the Ideal newspaper here, the other pages are similar: girls with footballs, boys with frilly dolls. The company pitches itself as a purveyor of 'non-sexist' toys (or perhaps reverse-sexist) and it should do well. Besides the anodyne toys now favoured by Spanish parents (especially those who evidently don't want grand-children), there is also a popular drive these days to destroy aggressive war toys. These ghastly things, plastic machine guns (pink for a boy) and so on are routinely handed in after Twelfth Night and burnt in a municipal bonfire or, as in the picture below, mercilessly and overwhelmingly crushed:
So remember, a feather duster for the boys and an electric train set for the girls. Who knows - maybe a few of the braver kids will swap their gifts once the light are out...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015



It must be strange to wear a message written in a foreign language or - even worse - a foreign script - when you have no apparent idea of what it says. Those silly enough to allow tattoo artists to work on their bodies must be near the top of the list - as some decorative piece of Arabic or Chinese is lovingly stamped into their bosom, ass or arm, which may - or may not - say 'Love Brother Love'. Are you going to trust a tattoo artist with your future - especially when you're drunk?
Young girls are particularly attracted to outfits with improper invitations written on them (I saw one over the weekend that said 'Take Me Now' - imagine explaining to the judge the following morning, No m'lud, the invitation was definitely there).
The model in my picture has the best - or is it worst - example of what not to wear. I saw her in H&M yesterday. Blimey, my Dear. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Apparently, they are used to make the Earth spin...

I looked up the Almerian town of Fiñana on Wiki. It has a population of just over two thousand, a castle, a fortress, a hermitage, an ethnological museum and the local people apparently thrive on eating gachas and chunks of zaramandoña (no idea).
But wait, I have a feeling they've forgotten some small detail which should be mentioned...

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Bicycle Lanes: The Movie

There seems to be a cycling mania going on.
Yesterday, driving around Mojácar was almost impossible with little gaggles of tourists en bicicleta peddling inexpertly around the beach. Later in the autumn and winter, we shall have the pelotones of professional racing cyclists in giant groups scooting along in front of us (peddle faster, dammit!) as we drive to Turre or Los Gallardos on important business. Meanwhile, the local Town Halls are building more and more cycle paths (at the expense of pavements and vital parking spaces), which - as far as I can see - few cyclists use, preferring the street.
The planners at Almeria City Hall, and I quote my other blog The Entertainer Online, '...are allowing skates, skateboards and oddly, wheelchairs, on their bicycle lanes which now infest (70kms built so far) the city'. The idea is to give preference to pedestrians and bicycles over motorised traffic within City Limits.The idea in Mojácar, I suspect, is to promote tourism as our main source of income despite any inconvenience to those who live there. Luckily, it's too hard a pull for any but the toughest cyclist to make it up to the top of the hill (...and arrive in Souvenir Heaven).

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Hotel Algarrobico. A Decision?

The issue of the Hotel Algarrobico was due to be resolved this past September. But, as usual and to nobody's surprise, it wasn't. It's an ugly building, erected on the coast (there wouldn't be much point on erecting it in the interior, now would there?). The hotel is twenty stories tall and has - or will have, or would have 411 rooms. It would, if ever opened, bring employment to Carboneras, the unattractive town nearby, famous for its dirty power station (far more ugly than the hotel) and its impossibly grand sports stadium which the town hall can't afford to open.
The hotel is just part of a larger projected urbanisation, with shops and restaurants and bars and souvenir shops, all aimed at amusing the tourists who would fill the Algarrobico from the day it was opened, back presumably in about 2008, if it hadn't have been stopped by an inconsiderate politician in far-off Madrid called Cristina Narbona, at the time, PSOE Minister for the Environment.
The hotel was almost finished when the order came through in 2006. The surrounding rock-face had been cut and shaped into space available for the satellite commercial centre and the main building was at the stage of putting in the interior work: 94% finished, says Spanish RTVE here. The builder, Azata del Sol, said and says that it had all the correct paperwork, the ecologists (such as Ecologistas en Acción, Greenpeace and the eccentric Salvemos Mojácar), who managed to halt the wretched thing, say that it is in a national park and can't be built.
As with the 300,000 'illegal homes' in Andalucía, nothing was said until the eleventh hour.
Now, years later, there is still no answer - or rather, there are too many court decisions, some for and some against. Whichever side wins, the Public will lose. If it's Azata, then they will claim massive damages to repair the site, ravaged by time and various attacks from vandals, ecologists and souvenir hunters. Furthermore, after all the excitement, would people want to stay there anyway? Maybe Azata doesn't want to win any more - so just pay them off their investment, plus lawyers, interest, loss of earnings and what have you. If the environmentalists win, then the entire site would need to be demolished and the whole area replaced, somehow, with an innocuous chunk of coastal cliff. How much would that cost? The price of a hospital or two, without doubt.
And, in a region with 35% unemployment, and little chance of alternative income beyond tourism, what about the job losses?
So, whoever gives the order can expect a short future in politics. Best just to change the subject, pass the buck, shrug and let the stupid thing continue to rot. 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?