Back home and drinking one of those beers from the Aguila people that you have to turn for a moment upside-down. Gassy. Urppph.
Alicia and I were in Velefique this week, a small village up in the hills beyond Tabernas (you remember - where they shot all the spaghetti cowboy films). The village was celebrating its three-day-long fiesta which started on Monday, a Moors and Christians effort, and we supplied the four horses and their skilled and costumed riders. Not me, Gracious no, I was either in the bar or propping up the chiringuito: the temporary tin-bar in the square next to a pop-group platform. Oh yes, it was noisy all right.
The councillor in charge of fiestas is called Ramón. He had showed us where we could keep the horses, where the water was and so on (Alicia slept up there with the crew on Monday and Tuesday). I got a ride home (well, to water and feed the rest of our animals).
It’s a nice little pueblo, no foreigners, no hotels and strictly no souvenir shops. Velefique (pop. 230) can apparently trace its history back to the Romans.
So noisy indeed was the fiesta last week in next-door Senés, where we had similarly brought our four intrepid riders and horses for another Moors and Christians hoopla, that the bar-owner and wife had upped stakes and closed for the session (only two days this time - the village is even smaller). No one likes to overwork, I agree, but closing up for the fiesta? The only place that served drinks in Senés during that particular thrash was the estanco, the cigarette shop who luckily has a side-line in beer.
Well, and the chiringuito as well - with the same crew. I can highly recommend their old-bit-of-pig sandwich which comes together with one’s welcome glass of beer.
The Moors were ejected from the hills of Almería sometime around 1490, a couple of years before Granada fell to the forces of Fernando of Aragón and Isabel of Castille. To prove their undying fealty and rigorous un-moorishness, everyone had to start eating pork and stop bathing (true story!).
Fiestas (or ferias) in Spain often overlap the single day saint's celebration (Almería, which kicks up its heels from the 19th, carries gamely on until the 27th, inclusive. Well, since the last day is a Saturday, we might manage a merrie and boozy luncheon on the Sunday, informally known as ‘el día de resaca’, down at the playa, why not?).
But first, Velefique. I was reminded of a pretty village inland from Mojácar called Bédar, when my dad had bought three houses in 1966 for ten thousand pesetas (sixty euros). I opened a bar there for a few months sometime in the mid-seventies before deciding that hard work was not for me. I called it El Aguila, the eagle (there was a brand of smokes called El Aguila in those days, plus of course the beer. Marketing, I figured). Fifty years later, and Bédar is now a British colony where people complain about the dog-poop and have tea-parties.
I forgot to ask Ramón how much a house costs in Velefique these days (much to his relief).
When you take out a mortgage in Spain, there are associated fees. But who pays these, the bank or you, the buyer? Find out in this guide from Spanish Property Insight.
From elDiario.es here: ‘The flip-side of the ‘tourist success': more and more people must leave those very places which are full of people. Short-term summer rental flats and second homes flood tourist towns while young people are forced to live elsewhere: “With their salaries they cannot access a home in their town, so they are expelled by people who come one month a year”, says a spokesman for Cantabria No Se Vende’. A picturesque village called Noja (Cantabria) grows by over 500% during the summer season says the article, as do nearby San Vicente de la Barquera, Potes, Santillana del Mar, Santoña and Laredo.
A similar story in Mallorca: "I can no longer live on my island". Here.
(In Mojácar, the sedentary population of around 7,000 increases to 30,000 or more during the season, but as occurs above, the budgets are based on the padrón, not on the real numbers).
The Germans are known to be fond of Mallorca. elDiario.es looks at the history of the German love for the island, where around five million countrymen visit each year.
From Idealista here: ‘Abandoned villages in Spain: the Spanish village offering cheap rent to remote workers and entrepreneurs’. It says, ‘Letur, a village in the Sierra del Segura in Albacete, wants to fight against depopulation and has launched an initiative to attract the interest of workers who wish to leave city life behind and live surrounded by nature and tranquillity…’ (terms and conditions apply).
Hosteltur reports on visitor limits here: ‘More and more destinations in Spain impose limitations on the number of daily visitors. This refers to the maximum number of people who can access a beach of special interest; vehicle restrictions on some local road; limits to the navigation of boats next to protected islands... These are measures to shield against overcrowding and guarantee sustainable tourism…’
ECD says (with some satisfaction) that the Brit tourists seem quite happy with the hot weather measures being taken in Spain (essentially, keeping the air-con hovering at 27ºC and the door closed). Reader Colin says it’s hotter in Manchester anyway…
From The Corner here: ‘Spain July inflation rate confirmed at 10.8%; highest level since September 1984’. It says ‘…Housing, clothing and footwear, as well as food and non-alcoholic drinks, are the elements which stand out as having had the most impact on the hike in the annual Consumer Price Index rate…’
From Sur in English here: ‘Salaries in Spain are nearly 450 euros a month below the European average. The average gross salary is 1,751 euros a month, 20% below the 2,194 euros in the EU as a whole and far lower than those in Germany, France and Italy’.
With the new measures to attempt to keep energy consumption down, the first day of restrictions – last Wednesday 11th August – saw a fall in daily usage of a little over 5%. 20Minutos has the story here. The PP leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo said his party would observe the restrictions ‘even if they were proven to be useless’ says La Información here. One can’t say fairer than that. Mind you, El Mundo tells us that the irrepressible Madrid President Isabel Díaz Ayuso ‘…says that the savings plan "portrays" the central government as "authoritarian, arbitrary and chapucero (bungling)" and accuses it of practicing an "energy censorship"’. So there!
Gosh, it’s so hot and dry right now that the President of Andalucía Juanma Moreno is worried about our golf-courses. The headline from EPE besides, the water-levels in the regional reservoirs are alarmingly low, and ‘…Both the Regional Secretary of Agriculture, Carmen Crespo, and the head of Sustainability and the Environment, Ramón Fernández Pacheco, have requested a bilateral meeting by letter to the State ministries to deal with the problem of the drought; however if the situation worsens, Moreno has confirmed that he will ask Sánchez for a meeting on "a matter of life or death"’.
From City AM here: ‘Thousands of Brits residing in the EU have been informed by UK banks that their EU-based bank accounts will soon be closed. A range of British banks, including Barclays, Halifax and Lloyd’s, have told UK citizens living in the EU that they will no longer be able to have and use their account in member states, primarily in Spain, France and Germany…’
Maldita looks at the drought in Europe ‘…affecting 340 million people and 47% of the continent’.
‘The number of EU citizens in UK drops significantly after Brexit’ says SVI here.
The Government has tweaked the official secrets act and, as The Objective reports here, they could fine journalists of news-outlets that publish secrets with the new law – with anything up to three million euros. So that’s my story of the lizard people spiked…
EPE interviews Pedro Arrojo, Special Rapporteur on people’s rights to water here: "There are a million illegal wells in Spain", he says. Regarding water wastage, he calculates that many cities in Spain lose 20% or more of their water to leaks.
220 illegal wells in the Doñana reserve have been closed since 2018 says El Confidencial here, with seven more sealed this week, ‘during the worst drought in decades’. We read that
‘The Guadalquivir Hydrographic Confederation will close a further 71 in the coming months, as the WWF calls for a water plan and greater vigilance against irregular irrigation.
The forest fires continue across Europe, with 660,000 hectares burned so far (Sunday) says 20Minutos here. Spain leads with 245,000 hectares scorched. The Guardian (Monday) said ‘Wildfires in Europe burn area equivalent to one-fifth of Belgium’.
Good news from El Confidencial here: ‘Spain fills 80% of its gas reserves three months before the deadline set by Brussels. The underground warehouses exceed the European average by seven points and accumulate reserves equivalent to the consumption of nearly 28 days. The supply for the winter is therefore assured’. (Thx to Jake).
From The Guardian here: ‘How a Spanish tourist spot became a global hub for live animal export. Millions of sheep and cattle are being shipped from Cartagena to the Middle East in a trade branded as ‘cruel and unnecessary’’.
A pet-factory has gone bust, costing the lives of thousands of critters says 20Minutos. A breeder called Xaraleira in La Coruña dealt in small animals: hamsters, miniature bunnies, squirrels, chinchillas, chipmunks and so on. They were breeding over half a million pets a year since they began in 2003 says the article before the business folded. A charity called Animals View appears to have saved many of the doomed creatures (here, with video).
Which is the most beautiful cathedral in Spain…? And the ugliest…? The first one may be a difficult choice, but the second goes to La Almudena in Madrid, according to a popular vote. La Vanguardia, (Barcelona-based) has the story here.
Our local newspaper put Almería at 42ºC on Friday afternoon (‘a hundred-year record’).
The far-right police union is called Jusapol. Vilaweb (a Catalonian news-site) says ‘Jusapol: a police story of Spanishism, corruption, violence and the love for Vox. The platform defines itself as apolitical, but behaves like the police arm of the extreme right. One of its obsessions is to fight independence’.
A young man was killed in a fight during the local fiestas in Íllora, Granada this weekend. In consequence, a number of homes were attacked by the angry citizens of that town and several families of gypsies were obliged to quickly gather their belongings and flee. The mayor of the town has been denounced for ‘inciting hatred’ by the Sociedad Gitana Española. The killer has been arrested. The gitanos (or Roma) have been living in Spain since the XV Century and, says their foundation Gitanos here: ‘Currently, Spanish society is a mosaic of historical and cultural realities with their own peculiarities, languages and peoples. In this multicultural context, it is necessary to make it known that the Roma reality in Spain has six centuries of history and is very diverse’.
From Mapping Spain here: ‘What’s it like living in Granada?’
The European Destination of Excellence Network’s top sites for Spain: ‘More 'European Bests' in Spain: Cultural, Art Nouveau, 'Green', and Family Holiday’. Think Spain brings us the story, with photographs.
I read an article about the town where I live: ‘Benalmádena to work with real estate sector to promote long-term rentals in preference to tourist accommodation’ (Sur in English).
The mayor and town council are concerned because there are too many holiday rentals and very few long term rentals. I have no idea how they plan to change this situation which is basically caused by the owners of holiday rentals who do not even live in Spain.
Still—it is obvious that the holiday rentals are a root cause of many problems on the Costa del Sol. These rentals, which are all over town—not just on the coast--definitely affect the quality of life. We were lucky to find a long term rental on the water last year before the real estate boom raised prices to unaffordable. The realtor had to talk our landlord into taking a lower amount to rent & not requiring the 12 months in advance he wanted—it had been empty for 6 months. But we are surrounded by holiday rentals with different neighbours every week rather than people who are members of the community.
We were hoping to move to a less touristy part of town, but finding another affordable long term rental is really not a possibility for now, so we will be renewing the lease.
I love your first article about how old we've all become Lenox but one doesn't seem to realise it here so much. I was 47 when we first arrived in Spain, to our new home in Moraira. The welcome was overpowering, particularly as our Pickford's Truck had broken down "but we should be with you in a couple of days or so", the driver said!
Meantime the previous owners had taken the light fittings and bulbs with them so we put two army sleeping bags onto the marble floor and sweated our way through the June night! Oh well, we said, at least we can jump in the pool in the morning, but no - these people were so mean they hadn't even put any chemicals in so the water was like Green Pea Soup!
To the beach in lovely El Portet we went and chatted to lovely Geoff and Ruth who helped us out of our nightmare with priceless advice, and became our best friends.
Although you know when you wake up every morning that it's quite likely that something will go wrong today, who cares, it's the best decision we've ever made Lenox, after years in Africa and the Middle East, and just look at the state of the UK now!!
Oh by the way I'm 81 now with lots of friends of varying ages, including in the brilliant Marina Alta Classic Car Club, and from all over Europe but some great Spanish pals too in the Village. What more could you ask for in our advancing years?
Hi Robin, I have always thought that we are very lucky to have settled in Spain ☺.
Un abrazo, Lenox.
The song over 36 million people saw (listened to?) on YouTube is called Trakatá with Ptazeta and Farina. Hmm, catchy. Cosmopolitan said I’d like it…