Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mojácar Changes Shape

It is said that the old village of Mojácar, that white cubist wonder squatting on the final hill of the Sierra Cabrera as it tumbles towards the sea, is the magnet, the ‘imán’ that brings us all to this area. Oh, I know that, once here, we never visit the pueblo of Mojácar, but it is nevertheless something that we are all attached to. Its dramatic and unequalled appearance – something beyond Spanish in its austerity and sharp majesty – is the inspiration for all of us ‘homesteaders’ and visitors. How could it have ever been built? Paul Becket, one of the earliest foreigners to set up home here, said that the village was a place of wondrous beauty (he was a Dane and liked Shakespeare), despite the best efforts of the mojaqueros to the contrary.
We were Becket’s neighbours, and shared the same view of the village – I mean the scenic one rather than the misanthropist one, of course. Indeed, from where we live, just below the village and practically in its shadow, the feeling is that a decent earthquake would dash the whole place down from its eyrie and that we would have lots of interesting new neighbours.
But, to return to the top: Mojácar’s narrow streets remind us of her Moorish past, when short figures in lumpy robes and veils scuttled past one another as they went about their business. The houses had small barred windows and were whitewashed each spring. Flowerpots bursting with blooms brought colour to the alleyways and, beyond the noise from the open-air cinema on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights (I learnt my Spanish there), the village was pretty quiet after twelve. There may have been a couple of foreign bars and one French-run discothèque, but the Guardia kept strict rules about opening times (though not about driving drunk which seemed in those innocent days to be a lawful and perhaps inevitable consequence of drinking). More recently, disco pubs open until three or four (or five) have ruined the peaceful evenings, together with the bright wattage of streetlights, truculent public illumination and crass neon signs in lurid colours. As far as driving drunk goes… well, watch out for the hoards of humourless cops with their clipped salutes and breathalysers. The narrow casements meanwhile have become giant strengthened-glass display windows protecting shelves upon shelves of Chinese-made tat.
The town hall has just decided, in plenary session, that things will be a little bit quieter once again, and has ordered one of the fifty-odd bars in the village to be demolished. This particular bar was, it is true, a bit loud and did stay open until rather late, but the good news is that the owner has now taken on another place nearby. So now we have just 49 places to get a drink. The reason for knocking down the bar and the apartment upstairs (our first home in Mojácar back in 1967), together with the old ‘school-masters houses’ – cheap housing built in the Franco era for what used to be the school next door, now the town’s department of urban planning – is to build a large plaza there. These new demolitions join another city-block which came down a few years back, together with another old building and the ‘Arco de Luciana’ - the tunnel under somebody’s bedroom that led down towards the Muralla which, so far, four mayors have failed to replace. The Muralla, now a pizza restaurant, for several years ran as a disco-pub with a ‘motorway licence’ – meaning it could stay open 24 hours a day if it felt like it. From below, down in my barrio, we could listen all night while comfortably tucked up in our beds to the local equivalent of the Top Twenty. And then try and get up in the morning. Now it’s much more peaceful, except during fiestas when the bands, fireworks, sirens and other festive sounds keep us all awake. Or perhaps we join in. I like to bring my trumpet. Anyhow, it seems to me that knocking down these buildings by the church will create a kind of massive ‘bald spot’ for the village. Under part of this – and ‘bang’ goes the idea of pedestrianising the Pueblo Viejo y Noble de Mojácar – they plan to cut into the rock there and build an underground parking-lot for forty cars (at an apparent cost of around 50,000 euros per coche). This of course helping to make the narrow road past the church into a kind of M30. Look forward to traffic lights.
Meanwhile, to continue with the metaphor, Mojácar is developing a middle-age paunch around the bottom of the town, at the ‘Fuente’ where new bars and sundry erections – including a future art-museum – are transforming the residential focus of the town, although parking remains a premium.
We also hear – at second hand, of course – of a project to build a roundabout outside the Hotel Moresco (I know, it’s like something out of a Buñuel film). This artifice will empower traffic to run ‘contracorriente’ against the one way system back down the hill as far as the narrow (but widened) Calle de San Sebastián below Tito’s house, allowing home-owners in the new block being built there – at the foot of the three year-old orange crane – to park. This insane idea to support a promoter at the expense of the rest of us apparently enjoying the unqualified support of the Town Hall architect.
Elsewhere, the new double-decker parking lot just opened over Easter at the now rather unfortunately named ‘Campo de Fútbol’ has provided either 104 or 206 parking spaces (depending on whether the Town Hall allows use of the downstairs bit or not. They are apparently not entirely sure what to do with it having spent the Government’s ‘PlanE’ grant of 1.4 million euros on building the thing). There is even talk of a third car-park for the village, so that tee-shirt and humorous-ashtray collectors will have ease of parking. This third car-park, which has been touted around now for many years, is to hang off the side of the hill by a bar called the Pavana and, in the event of that earthquake referred to earlier, will be leading the village as it plunges towards me and mine below.
The town hall apparently plans to build some other dependencies inside the village, as that august institution expands in size. Any suggestion of moving the ayuntamiento to the playa, where around 90% of the population of Mojácar lives, is treated with the derision it deserves.
So, as the once-magnificent village of Mojácar bakes slowly in the sun, waiting for the coaches and the night to roll round, the Indalo quietly steals away, climbs onto the back of a lorry from Antas and is whisked away bearing a load of fresh vegetables to Germany and new adventure.

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