Friday, August 15, 2014

The End of an Affair

Local writer Paco Haro presents his book this Saturday 16 August about the early foreigners who arrived in Mojácar between thirty and fifty years ago. It's called 'Mojaqueros de Hecho'. (8.00pm at the Artesan Centre). Paco's father ran the small hotel in the main square where most of us stayed while we found our way around and perhaps bought an old house locally.
The book is divided into four sections, plus cameos about some of those involved. I'm reading the third part at the moment which talks about the end of the simple times of Mojácar when the investors in suits and ties started to arrive to build their apartments and their ugly and charmless hotels, make a quick profit and move on. It talks of how the most charismatic bits of the town were torn down - the old theatre, the hotel Indalo, the Arco de Luciana, and above all, the Fuente. When plans were announced by Mayor Bartolo to demolish the old Arab fountain and to raise up a marble mockery in its place in around 1988, Paco recalls in the book how the foreign residents reacted to a man, and together with local artist Félix Clemente Jérez and local carpenter José María Pérez, they went so far as a raise a demonstration in the main square with banners and whistles. I remember one sign held by a long-term resident and featured on the front page of The Entertainer - '90,000 pesetas to wash my knickers'. There was suddenly a large fight and it became clear, as Paco remembers, that we had passed from being 'fellow mojaqueros' to 'guiris de mierda'. They didn't need us anymore.
Following that demonstration, the new fountain was built. The whole reason for it was to favour an architect connected by family ties to the President of the Junta de Andalucía. Paco says in his book that following this episode, there were two prices in the bars, the shops and as offered by the local repair people - ours and yours. Suddenly there was no more theatre, cinema, art or music. Just commerce, disneyland and greed.
Mojácar remains a special place - the streets continue to be narrow (except where the current mayoress has demolished a couple of houses and turned the result into a large and spacious square) and the views are as delightful as always (except where the electric company put up a line of giant pylons across the so-called Valley of the Pyramids). The old narrow windows are now wide plate-glass affairs and the modest shingle nailed crookedly above the shops are these days giant neon signs. The summer queues of young and enthusiastic party-goers and bathers keep the businesses full as 'the only industry here is tourism' becomes the mantra (who needs residents?).
In Mojácar, we would sell our souls for an extra dollar... 
So, my heartfelt thanks to Paco (and many other local friends), because while the soulless commercial side of our town is, generally speaking, a tragedy (you should see the tee-shirts), there are still those who would imagine Mojácar as a more people-friendly place: a residential town. That second picture of the fuente, the one in marble...? Above it is an art museum (or would have been, the Town Hall decided at the last moment to make it a municipal gallery instead). 

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