Among many positives, there is one negative about Extremadura – the tap water is dreadful, tasting as brackish as anything I fancy American cowboys used to have to drink. This was the case in both Caceres and Alcántara but seems less true of Trujillo. Anyway, I wasn’t surprised to see an article in today’s local paper headlined – According to the latest analysis, the water is improving in smell and taste, albeit slowly.
It’s my experience that every Spaniard you meet – especially estate agents/realtors – is the most honest person on the planet but everyone they know is not to be trusted. So, as you’d expect, this is a country in which conspiracy theories flourish. And so it is with the El País attack on the economic management of Sr Zapatero, the man with eleven syllables in his name but apparently without any idea of even how to spell economics. The widespread view is that the paper was driven by government decisions on pay-for-view TV which went against the interests of the PIRSA Group which owns it. It all rather reminds me of something George Borrow wrote, along the lines that there never was a Spanish calumny that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of its own preposterousness. Or I’ve just checked . . . “But when did a calumnious report ever fall to the ground in Spain by the weight of its own absurdity?”
As for said mismanaged economy, the fascinating thing is that the bad news just keeps getting worse. I doubt there are any optimists around right now, just pessimists and super-pessimists. Among the latter ranks Edward Hugh, who here comments on the implications of what’s said to a total of three million unsold properties in the country, either finished or in process.
And here’s Edward on my recent theme of the forces working to loosen Sr Z’s grip on power. If you can’t face it all, here’s the nub . . . Certainly all the early warning signs are there, and no one can watch Spanish television news, or listen to the radio here without becoming immediately aware that something has now changed, and that he who was once all powerful is now, himself, in his turn steadily being subjected to that big squeeze of which he was, in an earlier epoch, such an admirable exponent himself. Basically I have no doubt that, whether the coup de grace comes later or sooner, Zapatero is now on his way out, and the only real outstanding question I have is whether he will in the end go before Christmas (the start of Spain's EU Presidency) or after June (when it finishes). The decision is I suppose in the hands of the Spanish people, and it is just a question of how much more unemployment they are willing to stomach before those inevitable "casserolades" start to break out.
Finally, if this works, here are the photos taken so far on the trip by my daughter, Faye. Including an (unflattering) one of me. That should stop all the contacts via Tagged.