Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 4.2.20

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

Note: My friend Peter Missler was critical of me putting that heading above every post but I ignored him. Now, every time I write it, I'm forced to think of him. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course.

Spanish Politics
  • On one's income tax declaration, one can tick a box allowing a small percentage of one's tax to go to the Catholic Church. This was supposed to stop decades ago but hasn't. Other faiths are now seeking to have their own box. Fat chance. 
  • Talking of the Church . . . It's not happy with the plans of the new socialist coalition government.  . .  Says a Catholic site: Church leaders have voiced deep unease over several points in the coalition's 50-page program which appears to rerun, this time more radically, policies that sparked church-state tension in the past. These include making religious teaching voluntary in schools; enhancing "affective-sexual education"; guaranteeing  the secularity of the state and its neutrality against all religious confessions; facilitating of the recovery of assets 'improperly registered' by the Church; introducing new rights to "a dignified death and regulated euthanasia";  banning discrimination against LGBTI people; banning "reversal therapies" and allowing child adoption; bringing in' feminist policies'; extending the extension of  abortion rights to 16-year-olds without parental consent; and curbing pro-life campaigning near abortion clinics. All strength to the government's efforts, say I - a very lapsed Catholic.
Spanish/Galician Life 
  • I'm in Madrid this week, so this is an apt comment from Tim Parfitt's 'A Load of Bull': In Madrid, it's quite easy hold your hand out on being introduced to a complete stranger only to find yourself in a bear-hug, followed by the kiss-of-life. The other side of this coin is that I often terrify British women by doing something like this to them when I'm introduced here in Galicia. I sometimes wish I was wearing a head-cam.
  • I came down any the night-train last night and, during the trip, received from reader Perry a cutting of the President of ADIF assuring us incredulous Gallegos back in 2018 that the AVE high-speed train service to Madrid would be in place by the end of 2019. Well, it wasn't. And it won't be operative by the end of 2020 either. Or even 2021. Is it any wonder that no one here believes any official announcements?
  • I doubt it's a factor in the increase in laundromats but it clearly means more opportunities for them  - 2 out of 3 ground retail premises (bajos) in Galicia are empty, it's reported. More even than at the height of La Crisis.  
  • Galicians are eating 16% more cakes and pastries than they were 5 years ago, which is surely a factor in increased obesity rates.
  • After years of experience, I know that nearly all drivers turning off the main highway into the the industrial park on my route to town are not going to turn right up the hill as suggested  by their indicator - if flashing - but, heading for BricoKing, they're going to swing left across the little roundabout I'm approaching. This morning I wondered what a court would decide if I could prove - via a dashcam - that a crash wasn't entirely my fault. Is the concept of contributory negligence recognised by Spanish courts? As I - rather pointlessly - research this, I will continue to abide by one of my fundamental rules of driving here - Never trust another driver's signal.
  • Here are the 8 most common questions about community swimming pool rules in Spain are here. . .
  • And now, a real treat  - An O Burgo bridge foto special . 
1. Fewer trees, more concrete at the Lérez end, behind the petrol station:-

2. The piles of rubble I mentioned at the Lérez end I yesterday:-

3. Then almost-finished railings on the east side of the bridge, at the city end:-

4. Finally . . . Finishing the railings on the west side of the bridge, now that it's stopped raining:-

Maybe it really will all  be finished by Easter . . . 

  • You might have noticed I haven't written anything under this heading for a couple of days. This is because I've decided  - belatedly - that the country is crazy and the Republican Party is a criminal enterprise. No longer interested in them. But I wish them well. Except for the Republican Party, of course.
  • Word of the Day:- De veras: Really. As in: Will the O Burgo bridge really be finished by Easter? Or the AVE to Madrid running by end 2021? And Will the AVE service to Madrid really be operating by end 2021.
Finally . . .
  • A pleasant surprise at Pontevedra station last night - The train to Madrid was standing in the station. Which - despite what it said on my ticket - it hadn't been the last 2 or 3 times I'd booked on it. Instead we had to board a later local La Coruña-Vigo train to take us to the night train standing in the latter station. I'd begun to wonder if this would be the new norm. And if the ticketing data would eventually catch up with it. But it seems not.

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