Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Regular readers will know there are people in and around Pontevedra who believe that Christopher Columbus (Crístobal Colón) was born right here in the barrio of Poio, where his ship the Santa Maria was built. Indeed, there's a museum not far from my house, in what's said to be his birthplace. Visitor numbers were not great, however, leading to early closure. Though I have heard it's reopened. But I digress. Most people don't buy into this belief and see it a little but a local myth, one which I thought would never be surpassed. But I was wrong. For it seems that Hitler and Eva Braun didn't die in Berlin but, with Franco's blessing, were flown to Galicia and then, temporarily at least, lived disguised as monks in the monastery of Samos. Should you find this difficult to believe, the confirmatory details are all here, in a local newspaper. You can't ask for more than that.

Among my friends in Pontevedra number Fran and his colleagues of Los Porcos Bravos, a group which plays two football matches a year against the Sheffield Stags. In true Brit fashion, training for these games consists of visiting as many pubs as possible. The first match this year is next Sunday and my friends leave here in a couple of days' time. Catching up with some of them today, I was given by Fran an example of the Galician sense of humour called retranca. Before I relate it I'll just give this definition, even though I'm not sure it helps: Hacer algo con retranca - 'To have an ulterior motive in doing something':-
First guy (to his cat-loving friend): Hi. Where are you off to with that box?
Second guy: I'm taking my cat up to A Lama[40km away] to bury it on family land.
First guy: Make sure you erect a cross.

Unfortunately, I didn't really have time to discuss with Fran how this was funny and why he thought is was a classic example of retranca but I will do so when he gets back from the UK. Meanwhile, if anybody Galician – or even Spanish – reader wants to enlighten me, I'd be grateful.

I again counted the boarded-up shops as I walked into and out of Pontevedra today, albeit by different routes. Without checking any of the covered galerias, the total was 44. But what really brought home the extent of the crisis was the announcement that the super-duper cinema complex next to the station is to close. Which will almost certainly mean the death of all the shops in the complex, in one of which I've never seen a customer. This total of 44 excludes those which have re-opened as another kind of outlet – such as a sweet shop, a frozen yoghurt place, a gold exchange, a games 'saloon' and (unbelievably) yet another bookshop. Tellingly, the closure of cafés in no longer rare and yesterday I passed something I'd begun to believe I'd never see – a Chinese bazar that had gone out of business. It will be a long, long time before Pontevedra looks like it used to. But some good news – The old Savoy café which was a dreadful eyesore in the main square for 5 or 6 years and which was refurbished, reopened and then closed again, has now been re-refurbished and opened again, in time for summer. And it looks like this, albeit a bit more level:-


Finally . . . A little saga that began midday yesterday and ended midday today . . . 

There's a little ironmongers(ferretería) down in the old quarter, where many products are kept in little wooden boxes along the walls behind the counter. I went there yesterday for a couple of ferrules for my walking pole, ahead of a camino 'pilgrimage' next week. Thus spake the two of us:-
Have you got a couple of these?
Yes, here you go.
How much?
Call it seven.
OK. I've only got 5. I'll go to the nearest bank and get more. Where is it?
It's just down there but it doesn't matter. Bring it in when you can.
No, I'll go and get it.
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[Later] The bank was closed and the ATM was out of order.
Don't worry. As I said, bring it in when you can.
OK. I'll come back midday tomorrow.
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[Today] OK. I don't have anything smaller than a 50 but here's 2 euros as well.
[The guy leaves the 50 note, goes to the till, comes back and gives me a lot of change]
I don't understand. I thought it was 7 euros.
No, 7 centimos. That's why I told you not to worry about it. It's only a couple of small things. They couldn't possibly be 7 euros!
[Thinking] They bloodywell could be in the UK, amigo. Where you could probably only get 20 in a plastic box!

4 comments:

O Vadío Da Brétema said...

O do gato ten senso como galician retranca si o poñes en galego. Lost in traslation perde a sua forza

Colin said...

Ah. Moitas grazas.

Anonymous said...

indeed, i couldn't see any "retranca" reading the thing in English, but it has it in Galician. By the way, having "retranca" is being sarcastic

Colin said...

Yes, I agree it can be more than just sarcasm. And that's what I'm trying to find out. Thanks.

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