Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
Here's an article from the Diario de Pontevedra which features a video on a brave Spaniard/Galician/ Pontevedran resisting one of the London Islamist murderers.
Over the years, I've made several references to Spain's phony boom that began with the introduction of the euro in 2002 and ended - with something of a crash - in 2007/8. I was interested to read Don Quijone's label for this period as Spain's mind-boggling housing bubble. I speak as someone who had his mind regularly boggled during this truly bizarre period. Of which the consequences are still being felt, of course. From the minor example of the 40 empty houses within a short distance of my home and the major examples of the disappearance of numerous (corrupt) savings banks and the looming bankruptcy of Banco Pastor.
On the state of play with Banco Pastor, read this comment from the inestimable DQ. The Comments are also interesting. In a Spanish article I read this morning, it was noted that the bank has lost 99% of its stock market value in the last couple of years or so. But doubtless some rescue will be cooked up in Brussels, even if it offends their own 'rules'.
For a more general take from on the banking system that costs all of us taxpayers a small fortune, click here. Brilliant.
I also regularly say that there's a world of difference between Spain's much-praised macro economic performance of 3% GDP growth and what's really happening down at the coalface. A few examples of the latter:-
- When I first arrived 16 years ago, a monthly salary of €1,000 - mileuristas - was regualarly lambasted as being too low. It's now seen as a (distant) goal for Spain's youth.
- My elder daughter charged €25 an hour for private English classes 12 or 13 years ago here in Pontevedra. She has now finally got to exactly this level in Madrid.
- She has just signed up for a permanent job with an international ad agency. Her salary will be lower than she was getting in the UK 18 years ago.
- Her well-qualified Spanish partner - aged 40 - was recently offered €1,400 a month for a worthwhile job - "Because we really want you to work here". Much less than he used to earn before he was laid off a few years ago at the height of La Crisis.
- Spain's youth are staying with their parents even longer than they traditionally did. Even into their 40s.
So, don't be fooled by the boasting of President Rajoy and others. I doubt that the victims of it think that the euro was a good thing for Spain. Or Greece. Or Portugal. Etc.
Brexit: This is a bit worrying, from Lenox Napier's Business Over Tapas:- An article in 'Politico' from Guy Hedgerow on the subject of the British residents in Spain ends with: ‘A senior official in the Spanish health ministry has said that once the UK has formalized its departure, British residents and visitors will be treated “as non-EU citizens, with a different health care status” — that is, without free access to the Spanish system’. I might be fooling myself, of course, but I don't believe this is ever going to happen.
On a less truculent note . . . Here's my lovely lunch in Oporto yesterday - in a nice little place - A Grade - just up from the river. The real pleasure was to get TWO vegetables with the fish. Three if you count the potatoes. This hardly ever happens in Spain, where vegetable-eating appears to be confined to the home. So, I highly recommend it. Walk past the one just below it in the sloping Rua de Sao Nicolau.
For a few years I've wanted to revisit the church of Sao Francisco, opposite the Bourse but have always found it closed. Yesterday it was open but I was disappointed. I'd recollected finer gold and woodwork. Perhaps I've seen too many ornate Spanish churches since I first visited Sao Francisco in 1999. Anyway, this is a foto of the baroque altar:-
Finally . . . The convent in which one of the Fatima 'visionaries' came to reside in Pontevedra has recently been 're-staffed' by 3 young nuns and a new hostel is being established beside it for (real??) pilgrims. Seeing the door open and a catching a glimpse of the chapel I went in on Friday and had an entertaining chat with the young Catalan nun at the desk there. She now wants to re-convert me back to Catholicism. I thought of telling her there was a greater chance of me seducing her but decided against doing so. Then I noticed this sign on the wall, telling me that the Virgin welcomes me.
I'm sure virgins can be very welcoming but, TBH, I wouldn't know, as I've never the fortune to meet one. Perhaps this could be my chance. I mean The Virgin, not the nun . . .
BTW . . . I bumped into the nun TWICE in Pontevedra on Sunday night. Is this god working in strange and mysterious ways . . . . ?