Saturday, December 04, 2010

 

Name Calling

Taxi drivers always have trouble in countries where they change the names of things. Prithee take me to such and such on the 'General Mola' became the day after Franco keeled over, please take me to the 'Principe de Vergara'. The General was an old mate of the Spanish führer's and no one can remember who on earth the Prince was. Somebody nice, no doubt.
Name changes in Spanish streets, public buildings and so on are indescribably popular, especially when there's something better to do. No doubt President Zapatero is working hard on this. Well, we know he is.
In Mojácar, the absurdly named 'Centro de Artesanía' has now become 'Centro de Usos Multiples' (I think. I have to admit I still use the old name). The improbably called 'Avenida de Horizon' (after a soon-to-fail British tour-operator, which almost managed to take the town with them) has gone. What the avenida was called before, I simply can't remember, but it's nowdays... no wait... it'll come to me in a minute...
We just call it 'The Road up to the Village'.
So, you say to your taxi-driver 'it's in the road after the old purple church' and hope that he will understand. In Madrid, they often affect not to. 'Take me to the Plaza Mayor', said my father years ago, when there weren't many foreigners in the Spanish capital. My father was very tall, red-headed and covered in freckles, so it was an easy jump to suppose that my dad was an extranjero. It therefore followed that, since the taxi driver didn't speak extranjero, there wouldn't be much point in listening. 'Plaza Mayor' repeated my father several times, while uncomfortably bent in the back and trying to catch the driver's eye in the mirror.
Eventually, as the driver was nudged left, right and straight-on by his increasingly indignant passenger, they arrived in the most famous square in Spain. The taxi driver, pleased with his service, turned to my dad and said 'Señor, we call this Plaza Mayor'.
So we manage as we must, with street names and even statues falling out of favour (there's a warehouse full of caudillos somewhere). Back in Mojácar, apart from a couple of large roughly-fashioned rocks cemented on top of each other and known at the time as 'Pepe's Erection' (now sadly demolished), the statuary has been spared. We have bronze Mojacar maidens picking stones out of their shoe in various key locations (I think the artist had a buy-one, get-one-free deal going) and another one, in brick and ceramic, on the highway at Los Gallardos (no, that one's gone, knocked down in Bartolome's reign). Then there are the Indalos, including the one overlooking the modest roundabout at the fuente, a stainless steel one-legged and priapic monster with a space helmet (a fine justification for the local belief that they came from somewhere special).
But, back to streets. In Mojácar, we have streets named after every nation in Europe: Calle de Rumanía, Calle de Portugal, Calle de Francia and so on. Every nation except Britain, or the UK or the Reino Unido or however the hell we call the old place these days. England I might have said. Now, despite about 40% of the entire population being sons of the accursed Albion, we don't deserve a street. Not even a little alleyway. Not even, just for a few short months, between presidents of the diputación or something.
There are also no streets honouring the foreigners who 'discovered' or 'brought back from the brink' the small and humble town of Mojácar. Well, there's one - Pete Pages (a short, fat and merry 'antique' dealer from Brooklyn) put up a sign in the narrow lane next to his shop about thirty years ago for 'Calle de Pedro Barato'. Cheap Pete street.
A lane, I should point out, far too narrow for taxis.
Otherwise, there's nothing around to remind us of the great characters who moved here from other countries in the years gone by - bringing life, soul, a strong thirst for cheap brandy and tolerably bulging wallets.
So we are enthused to hear of a new name change. This one is going to be for a square, the one in front of the town hall with the big tree in the middle. Come to think of it, I'm not certain it even has a name. 'Town Hall Square' or something. Anyhow, it will soon be baptized with the rather foreign sounding 'Plaza de Walt Disney'.
Luckily, Wally was really a mojaquero (well, prove that he wasn't), so we are not breaking too many rules, beyond the one about 'good taste' perhaps.
But please, spare us a statue of Mickey Mouse.

Comments:
Apparently, the mayoress has put the kybosh on the idea. Probably sounds a bit foreign.
 
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