Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Mojácar Foreign Department

(Following on from a post a few weeks back: Spanish as She is Spoke), I am glad to see that the mayoress has put a Brit in charge of the Mojácar Foreigners Department.
Not as elegant as it could have been done, perhaps, since Lucas is a 'non-aligned' councillor for the Grupo Mixto, but, By Jingo, we do actually have a Brit drawing a wage from the Town Hall of Mojácar.
'Scuse me while I swoon in amazement.
Lucas Mayo was raised here by his step-mother Isabel, the daughter of Jacinto Alarcón, the wonderful old boy who turned Mojácar around in the sixties from a hill full of ruins to what it is today.  Lucas is, of course, totally bi-lingual.
He runs a gestoría on the beach, Gecko Services (ph 950 475 949), and has the knowledge and experience necessary to do the paperwork which our friends the Spanish are so partial towards.
Lucas became a councillor when the head of his party (Gas Station Diego), disillusioned to have not won the last elections, quit with his Nº 2 on the very next morning following the vote. Numbers 3 and 4 of Unión Mojáquera 10 were catapulted, much to their surprise, into Public Service.  Lucas became an Independent in early February of this year (here) and has supported the majority PP since then.
The current Mojácar Town Hall (nor most of the previous ones, come to think of it) has not been known for handing out many favours to the giant non-mojaquero population (around 60 to 70%) so, we are pleased to see that we finally have someone in The System.



Saturday, 3 June 2017

Movistar become Anal (What's New?)

Movistar knows my email and my telephone number (because I am a client of theirs). They send me a paperless factura for the month to my email. Very modern of them. But, from this month, I have to go through some more hoops to find it (what is my NIE number... what is the password...?). What password? Why are we so fucking anal in Spain?
So, here I am, jumping through hoops with the coffee this morning. Filling out forms, looking for my NIF number which (subconsciously, it makes sense) I have never learned. Suddenly, the house-phone rings. It's that sweet little anodyne Movistar-girl who lisps me a four digit number, which I am encouraged to write down.
Things could be better though, because (as I slurp still more coffee), it turns out that I need an eight digit number.
Bored with this, and out of coffee, I write them a nice letter (which no one is going to read). It says: 'Who the fuck is going to jimmy my email just to find out how much I am being clipped by the Movistar people with the monthly factura?'.
I wonder - have they put the bill up... in the hope that most people won't bother to fart about trying to see how much is going to be walloped out of their bank account?
Later, after a bathroom visit, I think - shit. I'm going to find out how much my telephone bill was for May.
I give them a call on 1004.
I wait.
The girl finally picks up (it takes six minutes this time). Ahh, hello, listen, I want to know my factura for mayo.
Once we have established the number I am calling her from (it's on her screen), she asks 'are you Willian?'.
My father, Bill, died in 1986. I have never got around to telling Telefonica about the tragic loss of their client. The paperwork would kill me.
'Yes', I say firmly, 'that's me, Willian'.
The factura, friends, was 87,56€. (The last one I can find, September's, was 77,83€). An annual price rise of around 15%.
The coffee is cold.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Almería Islam: Ramadan Begins

Almería, we read, is the second province, after Alicante, with the highest proportion of foreigners, at 18.7% (official figure from the INE). While, yes, there are lots of Britons, the majority of these foreigners are Moroccans, and Ramadan, the month of fasting during daylight hours, has just begun.
According to La Voz de Almería, quoting figures from the Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de España, some 90,000 Muslims across the province will observe the festival, which is around 13% of the population (Spain's Muslim population is around 4%). Of these, around 27,000 are Spanish citizens, the others coming from Morocco, Algeria, Senegal and so on. The province has 52 mosques, although the large Muslim population that lives in El Puche - a slum area in Almería City near the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos football stadium - must make their devotions on a piece of public land there.
The festival will end with the new moon, in 28 days time, and three days of celebration, the Eid al-Fitr follow.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Brexodus on Facebook

I visit one of those 'Brexit is Terrible' Facebook pages aimed at slightly unsure Britons living here in Spain. It reproduces articles from the British press about how things are going downhill over there, or what a monster Mrs May is, or what a weed the other fellow is, or fruitless arguments about whether we are 'expats' or 'immigrants'.
The threads go around in a circle, drying up after a while, until they start again with another posted item.
I write a post - quoting a line from Leapy Lee, the man who 'dares to say what other people think'. The quote is in this week's Weenie and it comes from an article about the wonders of Mrs May:
'...Are not the pathetic leaders of the European Union acting exactly as we knew they would?
Their pouting, childlike attitude to the terms of the UK’s departure, is precisely the reason we need to leave this bunch of spoiled brat, unelected wastes of space to their own pathetic devices...'.

All good stuff. My point is that a newspaper serving the Britons who live in Spain could be a fraction more sanguine about life here, about our future and about our position. A little less about the moors murderer and other rum goings-on in the UK, the pesky Europeans and maybe a bit more about Spain? We had several large news stories here this week, after all.
The Facebook page in question didn't agree with me on this, and scrapped my post, as is its right to do so.
Now, its gone happily back to arguing about whether we are ex-pats or immigrants again.


*The page itself is part of a larger site, with much useful action taking place behind the scenes. I support its aims, of course. For another FB page with similar content - and an introduction to this one and others, go here.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Spanish as She is Spoke

While many of the people who have gone through the Mojácar school, both today and over the past twenty years, are English, the Town Hall, as we know, has remained determined that none of them should be given a place amongst the staff there. Imagine - a bilingual person in a Spanish town where the most widely spoken language is English.
No local police, or specialists, or clerical staff, or anyone in the tourist office comes from the other side of the tracks.
Indeed, we recall that on the very day Rosmari won the last elections (24th May 2015), she fired her secretary, Francesca, who was the person who helped out the English.
We need an  office to help (help!) the foreigners who live here with their paperwork, with their taxes, with their doctor, with the cops: an office with a couple of bilingual foreigners (Angeli, the Dutch woman who speaks five languages, for example), but no. The Costa del Sol towns might have 'em, the Costa Blanca towns too - but here in Mojácar - it's all and only jobs for the Mojaqueros. You want a translator - go pay for one!
OK, we know, it's a lost battle.
But, when our town hall elders promote Mojácar to the visitors in fractured English, as happens every day, then the reaction can be something other than what was wanted. Disbelief. Laughter.
We are not a town without human resources.
But, anyway; that battle is lost too. Mojácar is for the Mojaqueros. We, who have come here to live, may love the place to bits, but, well, our friends and neighbours here see the old place more as an opportunity than a beloved home.
If I had made ten or twenty million euros out of my town, why, I'd build a theatre, or a hall, or a clinic. The Lenox Napier Clinic for Elderly Drunkards. But here, in what is apparently the richest town per capita in the whole of Andalucía, there's not even a park bench somewhere with a modest brass plaque saying 'Donated by Paco the Good' or some such.
We know this and we carry on with our lives. It's not worth a fight. And, although for example my three bilingual children, all brought up here in Mojácar, are currently settled in another country, well, perhaps we should be happy with what we've got.
But along comes a terrible tragedy in far-off Manchester, followed by some thoughtful and kind words from the Mayoress for our condolence - presented just in Spanish, (translated here, apparently, by a foreign resident for a Facebook page with the help of Googlespeak): '...Similarly, wishes to inform the British population resident in mojácar that yes, unfortunately, one of them has been affected by this barbaric act, has opened the gates of the city of mojacar and have all the help you can offer this municipality'.
An opportunity to bring us all together collapses quickly into farce.




Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The PSOE is Reborn


In the election to the socialist Party Secretary on Sunday, Pedro Sánchez won with just over 50% of the vote from the militants. Susana Díaz, who was around 10 points behind him, couldn’t even mention his name in her brief speech following the count.

El Pais, the newspaper of the institutional PSOE so to speak, has a lively anti-Sánchez position. Here is its by-now famous editorial just after the Sunday count:El ‘Brexit’ del PSOE’. In the translation over at El País in English, the editorial begins, ‘Pedro Sánchez’s victory at the Spanish Socialist Party primaries places the PSOE in one of the most difficult situations in its long history. The return of a secretary general with such a legacy of electoral defeat, internal division and ideological swings cannot but be cause for deep concern...’. It goes downhill from there, later on likening Sánchez to Donald Trump! El Mundo worries that Sánchez won’t be able to unify the PSOE, pointing out that Susana Díaz avoided congratulating Sánchez in public, even though she was in the same building. The tough PP leader from Catalonia, Xavier García Albiol, says that the victory of Sánchez is a ‘disgrace for Spain’. Other sources are rather more optimistic, including El Diario, who says that the party-members have defeated the barons of the party, and El Huff Post which begins an article with ‘"They failed to understood the scale of the political change we are in," said Pedro Sánchez this week about Felipe González, Rubalcaba, Zapatero and the territorial leaders who were against him. The primaries have shown that they did not understand the political change, or, what is more serious, the change in their own party: it was of such a magnitude that the militancy has made a mockery of its establishment and is prepared to face a time without popes, nor barons, nor sultanas, nor guardians, nor flappers. The Chinese vases of the PSOE have been shattered...’. An editorial at El Diario says that ‘Sánchez has been reborn from the ashes and returns to lead the PSOE with an unquestionable victory and more power than he ever had before’. And back to the opinion piece in El PaísPúblico has its own: ‘Madre Mía, the reaction on the Internet to the editorial from Prisa’. 


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Motoring News

According to an article in Saturday's El Mundo, the ITV inspection on vehicles (the MOT) is to become 'a lot more severe' from next year. It won't be any good buying a clapped out old oil-burner to go to the shops any more - it'll be failed by the goombahs. So, we must either buy a spanking new car from the beaming concesionario on the corner, or get those bus tokens ready.
Another fly in the motorist's ointment is plans from the DGT, the traffic police, to give you a lifetime ban the second time they catch you 'over the limit' (and there's you thinking they were just after the fines!).
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