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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

 Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 2 January 2021
02 January 2021 @ 11:34

 Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 

- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*  

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain  

Spain is a generally a superstitious country, says the writer of this article, adding that  New Year's Eve is probably one of the most superstitious days of the year. Practically everyone participates in one or more superstitious rituals. Details provided. It's all nonsense, of course, and the grapes challenge goes back only to an excessive harvest in the late 19th century. I refuse to try it but maybe next year. My lovely new neighbour, Leyla, kindly brought me a tin of very small grapes for this year but I'm saving them for next 31 December. When things will surely be more normal.

BTW . . . First-footing isn't exclusive to Spain. See here. Was it brought by Viking invaders?

This was going to be a very big (and profitable) year - un Año Jacobeo/Ano Xacobeo - in which the feast day of St James (Santiago, San Iago, San Tiago, Santyago, Sant-Yago, San Thiago) falls on Sunday and special indulgences are available to pilgrims. But Covid is still with us. So, the Galician government says it'll have an 'adaptable' approach to the Camino de Santiago this year. It's pretty hard to see how they could do anything else. The myth of St James is also Spanish nonsense, of course. 

In yesterday's Voz de Galicia there was an 8 page supplement on the Camino. Every word of it was in Gallego, leaving me wondering who on earth were the target readership and who financed it. My guess is Galician taxpayers, through the Conselleria de Cultura e Turismo - despite the fact that Galician 'pilgrims' must represent a small percentage of the usual total. Perhaps the aim is to massively increase that this year. In the absence of better targets.

My comment yesterday re the old tax declaration system of a few years ago and the problems of the new on-line one reminded me I've said that Spain sometimes seems to have passed from the 19th century to the 21st without bothering with the improvements of the 20th made elsewhere. The railway system is another example. Not to mention RENFE. Oh yes, and customer orientation, where Spanish companies - having previously eschewed it - have seized with 3 hands the opportunity cheap technology gives them to create the impression of believing in this. But, TBH, some companies have really got better at this. The banks, though, have gone in the opposite direction. 

I noted a while ago that - post the 2008 financial crisis and the collapse of the phoney property boom - there are at least 40 new(ish) houses lying empty within a radius of 500m of my house. Fifteen of these are right behind (and above) me and I noticed last night that the set of mail boxes at the bottom of the (steep) access road has been removed. But there's no sign of boxes being installed at the front of each house. Not economic, I guess. There's recently been a big effort by one or more estate agents to sell these (decaying) houses - presumed to be on the books of banks who foreclosed on them - but this doesn't seem to have been a success. Though there is a rumour that one has been sold at a price well below what my ex-neighbour, Ester, got for theirs last year.

I see María has stopped riding the wave and now entitles her blog New Year, Same Old: Here's Day 1.  

The UK

Excellent advice from a columnist to the buffoonish and vomit-inducing Boris Johnson: Cut out the words “alas”, “folks”, “bugle”, “pummel”, “prosper”, “mightily”, “prosper mightily”, literally anything in Latin and whatever else you feel might pep up the announcement of your 5th national lockdown. There’s a time and a place for this sort of pre-decimal language and unfortunately for you it’s 1958.

The Way of the World

'Irreversible Damage' by Abigail Shrier — resisting the ‘transgender craze’. This fearless book shows how girls’ bodies have become collateral damage in adult culture wars.


Here's a few more slang/idiomatic words/phrases, some 'quite rude', provided by friends in Galicia and South America. Not all are in use elsewhere.

Echar una pajita al aire

Comer conejo.

Estar hasta los huevos

Me cachelamá

Lo que me sale de los cojones/coño

Una pollada 

Un follón, 







Tonto a la 1

Finally . . .

How about a kind native/fluent speaker of Castellano ('Cristiano') giving us translations for all these? I guess he/she'd have to be at least familiar with Gallego. I do know some of them.


* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.

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