During the fiesta in the small pueblo of Tahal in Almería, which falls in the early part of October, many local people who have moved away over the years to the city in search of jobs, wealth, comforts, distraction and a decent restaurant will return to the family home for a few days. They will be a bit better dressed, probably not wearing those ubiquitous carpet slippers, and will politely park their Mercedes down near the fountain to not unduly upset the locals with their old Renaults.
The pueblerinos will feel a little uncomfortable by their richer cousins but then they will reflect that – Bueno, they’ll soon be gone once again.
And so it is. Those villages more than an hour away from nowhere will have a small population, but a far larger number of maintained homes. The folk who moved to the city will keep an eye on the old property, fix the roof maybe, put in a proper cooker and a TV, and will visit once or twice a year (probably bring a hamper with them). There will be no tourism and the shop, if there is one, will be in the back of the bar. A van will regularly drive up the hill and honk its horn – the fish-man is here!
These villages are technically moribund, and there should be houses for sale there for those who crave a quiet and lonely life.
But few people want to buy, and the villages stay quiet – except for the annual fiesta with its enthusiastic band, its tin bar with tapas and draft beer set up in the square and the fireworks to round things off.
Those in the city will tell you of their home in the pueblo and enthuse about the freshness of the tomates or the higos which can be found there.
The prettier pueblos nearer to the coast may count on foreigners buying property, but again won’t see much tourism. A couple of shops and a bar or two, but most of the remaining Spanish population will be living on pensions.
Other pueblos, happily located nearer to Civilization, will have become dormer-towns and Goodness knows, they might have become perhaps a little funky over the years, but they’ll be full nonetheless.
The Covid evidently brought about a modest renaissance in the pueblos, after all no one wants to get sick and if one owns a place to keep one’s head down, then why not – but that’s over with for now. Maybe, to extend that thought, they’ve been joined – in the harder to reach ones – by a few survivalists turning their backs on modern life.
But when you can’t get decent coverage on your Internet and the only wine sold comes in a carton, then being a hermit soon begins to lose its shine.
*I’m away next week. BoT will return on September 21st.
The editorial above is about the casa del pueblo owned by the city-folk as they remember, with gold-tinted spectacles, the simple life of the past. A Casa del Pueblo (wiki) though, that’s a PSOE office run in most towns, usually closed, but sometimes open for meetings, exhibitions, presentations and so forth – the whole usually financed by local party funds.
‘In Spain, 30.38% of homes are not principal dwellings. The INE categorizes homes as main - where there are people registered on the padrón and which it classifies as homes - and as non-main - where there are no people registered and among which there would be mainly second homes, but also tourist - apartments and empty homes…’ A lot of the municipalities where there are more empty, unused or second-homes are in the España Vacía. Público looks at the figures and brings some graphics here.
Fotocasa warns of the joys and pitfalls of life in the sticks here. El Huff Post has a few (staggeringly) cheap homes for sale, via La Caixa, here, and Idealista has loads more of them here.
From Maldita (a useful fact-checking site) here: ‘Fake rental ads and ghost real-estate agencies: how to recognize real-estate scams’.
From Colin’s Thoughts from Pontevedra here, ‘Talking about life in Spain . . . I’ve now skimmed this new guide to moving here from the UK by Age in Spain and highly recommend it. It’s extremely comprehensive and accurate. It can be downloaded as a PDF’.
From El Español here: ‘The poorest municipality in the province of Alicante is also the most inglés in Spain. With 36% of the population having British nationality, San Fulgencio is the Alicante town with the lowest average annual income per household’.
Figures for the number of international tourists visiting Spain in July stand at over ten million says 20Minutos here. Two million of them came from the United Kingdom. The larger picture comes from The Olive Press here, which says that 47.6 million foreign tourists came to Spain between January and July this year.
Health workers in the Balearics bring a story to El Periódico de Ibiza about the largely unreported list of accidents, fights, drownings, ‘balconings’, overdoses and various other unexpected deaths occurring during the tourist season.
Flying the cheap airlines means hidden extras – which seems to me to be a bit like going to a restaurant and having to pay for a chair. They wait until you’ve bought the ticket before they pounce: easyJet is asking extra money for a specific seat (who cares?) or a carry-on suitcase larger than a valise (I know, because I just bought a flight to the UK). But now along comes a German carrier called Corendon that offers no-child areas on its flights to Mallorca for the small consideration of an extra 45€ one-way… Alternatively, I suppose, one could have waited until school began.
‘Spain has 48 million inhabitants, of which 41 million are 16 years old or older and are legally authorized to work. The point is that of them, only half (21.05 million) actually work, while 2.7 million are unemployed and looking for a job and another 16.6 million are inactive.
This implies that 43.7% of the population (workers) are those who support in some way with their taxes the remaining 56.3%, among whom are the unemployed who live on benefits, children, pensioners and adults who have chosen not to work. If children are excluded and we consider that the entire population aged 16 or over is adult, we can say that one half of the adults support the other…’ El Mundo does its sums here.
When you cut taxes, and therefore state-income, you must in consequence either raise your debt or cut services. From Cinco Días here: ‘More than 500 great fortunes (those with a patrimony of over 30 million euros) avoid paying the wealth tax by maintaining their residence in Madrid. The rich in the central region thus save themselves 1,200 million euros in taxes’.
From Bilbaohiria regarding unused European Union funds in Andalucía here: ‘President Juanma Moreno Bonilla faces an unprecedented challenge: the management and execution of 4,500 million euros from the European Union that are still pending execution. With an imminent deadline of December 31 of this year, the question arises as to how this situation will be addressed and what repercussions it could have for Andalucía…’
‘The Saudi public-owned STC Group becomes the largest shareholder of Telefónica after purchasing 9.9% of the company. The Saudi company invested 2,100 million euros and says that it does not plan to take a majority position’. El Mundo reports here.
The PP had a cunning plan as the party most voted, which was to persuade Pedro Sánchez and the PSOE to join in a government of national unity (wiki) as a junior partner. Feijóo suggested a two-year legislature. Naturally, the PP’s other partner, Vox, was a little miffed at this improbable plan. The investiture debate for Feijóo will be held on September 26 and 27.
In the (admittedly impossible) event of a PP/PSOE government, who would be the leader of the opposition? Santiago Abascal? Wouldn’t that tend to inflate the notoriety of the far-right party? A survey at elDiario.es asks opinion about the alternatives for government:
PSOE with its allies plus Junts? 40.4%
Fresh elections (January 14th) 24.5%
PSOE stands aside and allows PP to govern: 14%
PP with Vox and other minority groups: 9.4%
PP with PSOE alliance: 3.1%
An investiture for Pedro Sánchez – if the cards fall in the right way – would be in the third week of October says ECD here.
From The Washington Post, an interesting article here: ‘Spain is held hostage by a faction of breakaway regional extremists’.
Spain’s acting deputy prime minister and labour minister, Yolanda Díaz, who is also the head of the left-wing Sumar group of parties, went to Brussels on Monday to meet exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, seeking support from his Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) party to keep Pedro Sánchez’s left-leaning coalition in power’. The PSOE say they had nothing to do with the meeting, and Díaz was there only as Sumar leader. More on this development at Spain in English here. Puigdemont wants a commitment to a general amnesty for the Catalonian independence shenanigans of 2017 before he agrees to anything.
Murcia has finally agreed on a new regional government with a coalition between the PP and Vox. Fernando López Miras (PP) is the president. El Confidencial says: ‘The Vox candidate José Ángel Antelo will become vice president of the Government of the Region of Murcia and counsellor for Security, Interior and Emergencies’. Another Vox counsellor will lead the Department of Development.
Seprona uncovers more than fifty illegal wells in Mazarrón (Murcia). The Civil Guard is investigating eighteen people as allegedly responsible for this water collection in the Rambla del Ramonete, which exceeds 2.5 million cubic metres’. La Verdad has more here.
El Salto Diario says that, in all, there are thought to be over one million illegal wells in Spain. It notes: ‘Almost half of Spanish water bodies are overexploited or contaminated’.
It’s no secret that trees in the cities help cool down the ambient temperature. So why, asks 20Minutos here, does the Puerta del Sol in Madrid have no shade whatsoever? The answer apparently is first that under the flagstones is a thick layer of cement, making it hard for any tree to prosper (sic) and secondly, the police insist on open vistas for security reasons. So, it looks like that it will stay hot and bare in Madrid’s famous central Kilometre Zero.
elDiario.es has a map of the areas under threat from flooding when there is heavy rain, or in the dystopic future of climate change. It says that 4.3% of all homes in Spain ‘are at medium or high risk of river or sea flooding’.
A sad portrait of the humiliated Queen Sofía is told at El Nacional .Cat here. The article ends with ‘…Queen Sofía only asks one thing of her son, and she hopes that he will not fail her in this. The Emerita does not want to be buried with Juan Carlos the day she dies. She does not want to be buried in the family pantheon as is the case with all royalty. In her case, she wants to be cremated and her ashes to be cast into the Aegean Sea, where it all began’.
20Minutos reports that, when asked if he intends to return to live in Spain, the Emeritus Juan Carlos answered ‘certainly’.
From N332 (Tráfico’s page in English) here: ‘A new driving licence is coming soon. As of January 1, 2024, the DGT will allow those over 16 years of age to obtain a type B1 driving licence. This is a new category for driving licences in Spain, although similar exists in some other countries, and is aimed at giving younger people more mobility...’
SEAT owners should sit down for this one – Volkswagen has announced that the marque is due to disappear, and that the successor will be the up-market Cupra. More at VoxPópuli. Furthermore, the brand will now also be built and marketed in the USA says El País here (illustrated with a great-looking photo of a Cupra DarkRebel).
Luis Rubiales appears to be on suspension, but won’t be fired from his job. His mother and her hunger protest by the way only lasted a couple of days, and she is now once again at home. CNN on Monday here: ‘Complaints stack up against Luis Rubiales – and not just over his forcible kiss of a World Cup soccer star’. Spanish Views from a Small Town writes on feminism here (blog). Rubiales is becoming increasingly isolated, although the far-right broadcaster Begoña Gerpe seems to be on his side (YouTube). On Tuesday, the RFEF sacked the Women’s National Football Team’s head coach Jorge Vilda. Reuters says that ‘Vilda had been under fire since last year after 15 players staged a mutiny calling for his resignation because of inadequate coaching methods and calling for conditions to match those of the men's squad’.
I really don’t know what I just saw here. It says ‘This is how the retractable grass at the Bernabéu (Real Madrid) works, crazy!’ A short video from Reddit.
From claustrophobics, here’s the Madrid DANA flooding viewed from a metro train.
The Spanish don’t listen to anglo-music anymore says El Huff Post here. Apparently, all the Number Ones in the hit-parade have been en castellano (except for Rosalia’s Catalan Milionària) as far back as 2016. ‘Now that everything sounds the same’, explains disc-jockey Juanma Ortega, ‘the fans consider that you might as well understand the lyrics’.
A village on the frontier between Spain and Portugal is, in point of fact, divided between the two countries and has an hour’s difference from one side of the stream that passes through it with the other. The village, Rihonor de Castilla (or Rio de Onor, depending) is in Zamorra (or Bragança) and is described at Infobae here (with video) as being a confusing place – they speak two different languages there as well, well, plus the local Rionorés of course; and the situation hasn’t changed since a treaty confirming the frontier was signed by the Spanish and Portuguese kings back in 1143.
‘Artificial mounds known as motillas are found throughout the plain of La Mancha. Dated to between 2200 and 1500 BC, they tend to be situated 4-5km from one another and rise to 4-10m high. People have written about motillas since the end of the 19th century but they were erroneously considered to be burial mounds until the mid-1970s when work began on the Motilla del Azuer in Ciudad Real…’ Item at Eye on Spain here (with video).
Gaby Moreno is a singer from Guatemala. Listen to her remarkable voice performing La Malagueña here on YouTube.