Monday, February 10, 2014

La Plaza Nueva

With the first democratically voted mayor for Mojácar, back in 1978, Paco el Marullo as he is called, the town made a convulsive change from a sleepy international artists' retreat (and drinkers' paradise) to an uneasy tripper destination, which eventually turned into the small 'd' disneyland we know today. Odd that Walt Disney is said to have been born here (he wasn't, it was an invention of Old Jacinto when he saw a magazine photo of Disney getting married in Mexico. Coño, he looks just like Diego Carillo's family, he said...).
The first building to reflect the new worship of Mammon was the Sondra building, here on the left of the photo. Before, there had been a carpenter's shop with a small arch over the narrow street on the left and a larger one over the road on the right climbing up towards the church. The new shop was the successor to another nick-nack shop in the back of the village (now an Italian restaurant) built and operated by a Corsican called Paccini. The shop windows broke with tradition: they were huge. The stock was exclusively for visitors: Mexican hats, jarapas, tee shirts, post cards, humorous ashtrays, indalos and so on. Business was good - there was a Horizon hotel in the village with a regular turn-over of impoverished but enthusiastic guests. Several other shops soon opened to provide competition with the Corsican.
The old Hotel Indalo, in the larger part of the square (to the right), was bought up and demolished, along with a famous and quite beautiful theatre. Two dozen more nick-nack shops took their place. Mojácar was disneyed. The bars and restaurants in the village returned to their now-monied original owners. They were demolished and re-built, but the rents were too high for the ever-reduced number of patrons. Of over fifty bars thirty years ago in the pueblo, now maybe a dozen remain. Even the old Horizon hotel, El Moresco, is closed and condemned.
Sadly, the town is now empty eight or nine months of the year, as - apart from the view - there is now little reason to stay. Tourists are bussed up to the back of the town and must puff their way uneasily up the rest, to be told a bowdlerised version of the town's history. A massive proportion of the town is now foreign residents, who cluster below on the low hills and approaches to the beach, where they are tolerated for most of the year and ignored during the summer months. Despite their massive and regular injection of capital into the municipality, the recent Town Halls have preferred hotel tourism, which they see as a panacea to the area, where in reality it is merely of some moderate use to those who own shops, bars or restaurants.

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