Sunday, April 22, 2012

A public service announcement: If, of a Sunday morning, you want to find the cake/pastry shop in a strange town, just drive around until you see five to six illegally parked cars all with their hazard lights on. If one of them is parked on a zebra crossing, this will be a clincher. Similarly if one is parked on the road, forcing you to do a slalom to get past.

I mentioned the slow progress of the AVE high-speed train in Galicia and, right on cue, comes the announcement that the contract has been awarded for the appallingly difficult stretch between Lubián (where the land is flat) to Padornelo (where it decidedly isn't). There will be a very long tunnel but, right now, I can't recall exactly how long. Click here if you want/need to know. It will all be finished by end 2015. Sure.

There are regular announcements from the Spanish government on the self-defeating austerity measures which won't help growth at all. One of these is that the cost of a university course will significantly increase. Another is that pensioners will now have to pay for their prescriptions. According to their income, it seems. Quite how this will work is unclear, though there's been talk of a sliding scale of monthly charges. If these have to be paid even if you don't need any prescription filled, it'll just be a poll tax. And analogous to the Tory Party's "granny tax" which is causing so much trouble in the UK.

Finally, what explains the lack of civil unrest in a country with 50% youth unemployment? Can it be due to the fact that Spain has a 'black economy' variously estimated at 20 to 30%? Is it because, as someone has suggested, there is plenty of money under the mattress? Can it be that memories of civil war atrocities act as a damper on emotions? Or is it because so many of the young are living with their parents and/or extending their university courses by failing their exams? I really haven't the faintest idea but I do suspect that Pontevedra, with its solid core of bureaucrats, is unrepresentative of the whole.

Incidentally, I noticed yesterday that, ten years after the introduction of the euro and the demise of the peseta, shops here are still giving the peseta equivalent of your bill in euros. Do they know - and have they always known - something we don't know?


Anthea said...

I was talking about the pesetas/euro thing with my sister who has been over here from Spain, where she has lived for 35 years now. She claims not have noticed that shops give prices in pesetas and wonders if it's a gallego thing!! She does express her amazement at the people who still think in pesetas - that's how the topic came up - and that her bank statements tell her her balance in pesetas as well as euros. Her daughter and I concluded that she shops with her eyes closed.

Colin Davies said...

That's how I approach shopping. Bloody Carrefour today. NOBODY to ask where things were. I hate them.