Friday, January 20, 2023

The Neverending Chocolate Lights

Alright, hold onto your hat!
Mojácar will now keep their Ferrero Rocher chocolate Christmas lights up until...
February 28!
It gets worse
Next year, says the Voz de Almería: '...the Town Hall says that with more time to prepare, the proposal for all those who return to the municipality in the winter time will be much more impressive...'


Saturday, January 14, 2023

Ask, And You Shall Receive (Maybe)


This one starts with a conversation on Facebook. Somebody posted a question along the lines of: ‘I’ve had it with the UK and I want to move to Spain, is it easy to find a job?’

Us old hands living in Spain for long, longer or longest were happy to post answers to this. Here’s mine:

‘The Spanish won't employ you over their own, or hire you over their own. That's assuming perfect language skills and all papers in order. Thus, you either find a foreign-owned business - a bar, English-language newspaper, real-estate office... or you self-employ. Some of us (and this is frowned on) seek to live by ripping off our fellow countrymen’.

This last bit set the cat among the pigeons.

It seems that I aren’t the only one who has learned through experience not to trust the first person who sidles up to me and says ‘What Ho, Old Stick, Can you lend me a few bob, I’ll pay you back when the cheque arrives from my parents’.

Because, you know, he won’t.

Not that one wishes to discourage those who seek to the leave the Old Country for a better life abroad.

And Life is, after all, an adventure.

Moving to Spain, an excellent place to live, is a good idea. It’s best to have money coming in from outside to keep one in gambas and albariño; perhaps a pension, or some regular dividends, or even a wealthy older brother who subscribes firmly to the aphorism ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’.

The second-best way is to find a job (like our intrepid Facebook correspondent) with the disadvantages and cautions listed above.

The third (minority) way is to try and snow your fellow countrymen, until such time as circumstances merit a swift departure for somewhere new and innocent.

Beyond being short-changed in a shop, the times I have been conned over my lifetime in Spain has always been by fellow-Brits. A pity really, but there you go. It’s not like it happened every day, but I’ve been living here a long time now…

No doubt the Dutch would say the same thing about their own countrymen, and amen with the Germans and the Danes.

There's a page on Facebook called ‘Named and Shamed, Costa Blanca’. This type of page, of course, can sometimes be counterproductive, and watch out for the legal profession when dropping a literary dime on someone. However, the content will help put us on our guard.

Returning one last time to the thread mentioned above, and how it’s always one’s fellow countrymen and never the Spanish who hand you a sob story or a cunning get-rich-quick scheme that only needs a bit of seed money; Amalia, a woman living in the UK, posted an interesting (bombshell!) observation: ‘I must say this also happens in England between us Spaniards’.


Sunday, January 01, 2023

Planning a Trip

The editor calls in a junior staffer, probably after a late lunch involving shrimp, and says, I want a story by tonight on three of Spain’s finest and least-known villages. Over the road, another editor, this time belching gently after a few too many glasses of beer, is telling his wife (the one who does most of the work) to get out there and find a few interesting destinations along the Costa Blanca, with some decent stock photos.

Maybe tie it in with an advertiser or two.

Another one, thinking of its expat readers, finds its latest copyist a job to do: tell us of the least-known Spanish cities and their manifest attractions. We find out that there are but three: Badajoz, Soria and Ceuta. They are, nevertheless, ‘some of Spain's most exquisite hidden gems’. The story merits a brief paragraph on each.

My own adopted town, Mojácar, has enjoyed thousands of pages of copy over Christmas as an Italian chocolate company decided to stump up for the Christmas lights (including its name charmingly blazed across the highest building in the town square). The mayoress is so pleased by the onslaught of visitors (all eyeing the fifty or more souvenir shops waiting anxiously for their trade) that she has extended the illumination until, at the very least, the end of January. Unfortunately, the destination’s tour hotels weren’t in on the plot, so they are all seasonally (and firmly) closed.

Meanwhile, the agency that runs ‘Spain’s most beautiful pueblos’ has chalked up another six for 2023, including Trevélez in Granada (a touristy Alpujarran village with good trout and jamón).

Looking for a beautiful village to visit? Trusty old Google throws in its hat with over six million results, including: ‘15 of the most beautiful villages in Spain’ - The Points Guy, ‘The Most Beautiful Towns in Spain’ - Culture Trip, ‘18 Beautiful Towns In Spain To Visit’ - Hand Luggage Only and from someone we have at least heard of: ‘Spain’s 30 most beautiful villages, as voted for by readers of El País in English’. Nice pictures: Mojácar comes in at Nº27.

Of course, one always wonders about readers’ votes…

So, as we fill the car once again, only to discover that the twenty per cent gasoline-discount has disappeared, and open the map to our chosen destination for the day, we hope (forlornly?) that it won’t be too full of coaches, tourists and screaming children, and that there will be a parking space somewhere near the restaurant that Tripadvisor enthuses so strongly about.

Spain has just over eight thousand municipalities, and some of them can count on a handful of nice villages all within the same parish. Níjar in Almería - for example - can boast the attractions of the Cabo de Gata, San José, la Isleta del Moro, Agua Amarga, Las Negras, Fernán Pérez, Pozo de los Frailes, Rodalquilar and even Níjar itself (plus another sixteen rather more humdrum settlements besides).

So, between one thing and another, those travel stories are a full job for an editor.