Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 12.7.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain:-
  • I see that the latest health report on coffee is that it not only doesn't kill you but  actually extends your life by 9 minutes for each cup. But possibly not here in Spain, where much coffee comes in the form of the torrefacto version, said to be implicated in cancer. Click here for a very good post on the origins and use of torrefacto. I agree with his view of a café solo, by the way.
  • In Pamplona yesterday, a young Australian called Nathan stood alone at sharp right-hand corner of the bull run, clearly oblivious to the fact there was no one else anywhere near him. The reason is simple - it's the most dangerous place to stand, as the bulls invariably crash into the barrier there as they try to negotiate the 90 degree turn. Inevitably, he was hit by 3 or 4 of them and tossed skywards. But, astonishingly, he escaped serious injury. Someone on TV had no doubt he'd been saved by the intervention of Saint Fermín. In other words, it'd been a 'miracle'. Given that there's no evidence the saint even existed, others would probably conclude Nathan was just one lucky bastard. But I'm guessing he's now a hero on Australian TV.
  • Yesterday was a public holiday in Pontevedra - the feast of San Benito/Bieito? - and, as ever, the streets, bars and restaurants were virtually deserted at midday. My long-standing question remains: If not to the beach or to a day-long Mass, where on earth do all the Spaniards go on these days? Is the answer, in fact: Nowhere; they stay home watching la telé.
  • Reading this marvellous book on a 19th century British disaster in Afghanistan, I kept coming across the word qal'a for 'fort'. Eventually, it dawned on me that this is the same word as alcalá- a word frequently found in those parts of Spain where the Moors built forts. Dalrymple, by the way, stresses that the British reaction to their - unfounded - fears about Russian plans to invade Asia led to the very thing they feared. Or, as he puts it: As so often in international affairs, hawkish paranoia about distant threats can create the very monster this most feared. One immediately thinks of Iran and North Korea, of course. 
As I've said, much media attention is being given here in southern Galicia to Portuguese success in attracting Spanish companies - particularly those in the car, food and metal industries - to the industrial park in Valença, just across the border. I'd been waiting to see how long it would be before the phrase competencia desleal (unfair competition) would be used. Sure enough, it appeared yesterday in a paragraph about the Spanish possibly initiating a suit (una denuncia) against Portugal. Presumably in Brussels. Bit late for that and it was good to see the idea being dismissed.

Here in Pontevedra, our council is addressing the issue of fewer stalls in our superb covered market by turning the top floor into a gastroespacio. We wait with bated breath to see what this will be but the phrase verdura ecológica (organic vegetables) is already being bandied about.

And the problem of kamikaze drivers going the wrong way on the autovias is going to be addressed by the installation of bollards. Especially where a road serves for both entry and exit. Not before time.

Nutters Corner:-

Republican Senator Luther Strange: "President Trump is the greatest thing that’s happened to this country. I consider it a Biblical miracle that he’s there". In the words of The Friendly Atheist: Isn’t it amazing how the “Biblical miracle” is a thrice-married man who lies, steals, takes from the poor, gives to the rich, spends his time avoiding work and mocking others, only invokes God’s name to placate conservatives, and is a laughingstock around the world?

Finally  . . . I sat next to a table of 7 young women in Plaza Verdura last night. At least 5 of them were smoking. I wonder how long it'll be before Spanish women abandon this fatal 'sophistication'. Shame they can't see what their faces will look like at 50.

Today's funny foto in place of a cartoon:-

If you're going to pimp up your car - un tuning - it's probably a good idea to remove the naff tow bar:-


Sierra said...

The bollards have been in place on the Lugo A6 junctions for at least six months:

Les Revenants said...

Fascinating article about the coffee in Spain. Thank you. Never had any idea. Haven't been there for many years and when I was there I tended to order cañas or wine.

Maria said...

On the local saint's day, most families get together to celebrate with a large meal. It just wouldn't do to go eat out, it's not traditional. Though it would be a relief for many long-suffering women who get to do all the cooking.

The gastroespacio is a tendency I see in most markets of going after the tourist money. An example is San Miguel market in Madrid. It's beautiful, it's interesting, but it doesn't contribute to the local needs, only the tourists'. In Santiago the Praza de Abastos is going the same route. In Porto, the Bolhao market is also installing restaurants into the stalls. At lunch time there are long lines for a table, but no one waiting is local. It's a form of survival for the market buildings, but efforts should also be made to pitch to the local population, and look after their needs, so they avoid going so much to the hipermercados and give the markets a shot at life.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Maria. As informative as ever.

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