Saturday, January 26, 2013

Goodbye Pete, Hello Cal

This is a narrow street in Mojácar called - at least for thirty years or so - Callejón de Pedro Barato, now clearly renamed as the more prosaic Calle La Cal. It was christened 'Pedro Barato' by Cheap Pete, an American who lived here during the seventies and built El Palacio, the building in the picture to the right, which Pete opened as a restaurant.
It's a fact of life here in Mojácar, a town whose every vestige and sign of wealth comes from the legions of foreigners who have settled here since the sixties, when the town was little more than a mass of attractive rubble, that the swollen guiri population (now over sixty percent) must be treated as forgotten second-class citizens, whose only function is to pay their taxes. Unlike many towns in similar circumstances on the Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca, there is no 'Foreign Department' in the Mojácar Town Hall, much less one staffed by foreigners. In fact, although there are over 150 funcionarios in the Town Hall in a town of around 8,000 inhabitants, none of them are British.
The politics of the town is to look for cheap brief-stay tourism (there isn't any at this time of year), trying to pack badly designed and ugly hotels located on the far end of the beach, hotels that bring no business to the larger community. At the same time, ignoring residential tourism, which brings in large amounts of money all year long - as more enlightened towns like Marbella, Mijas, Fuengirola, Altea and so on are perfectly well aware.
The foreigners in Mojácar are getting squeezed and many wish to leave. It's understandably hard to sell their homes as there is no demand (because the town businesses are only concerned with tourism, and are generally shut during the winter, leaving the town with little or no social cohesion). At the same time, massive and eagerly raised rents on properties held by sly locals are keeping many shops, bars and restaurants closed... sometimes all year round.
One day though, we shall all be gone and, like Cheap Pete before us, we shall be removed from the history books and forgotten.

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