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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Lots of Carmens
Tuesday, March 5, 2024 @ 7:35 AM

By Pablo de Ronda

Carmen is a common given name here in Spain. I have known a few over the course of my 50-plus-years relationship with this magnificent country. From my first visit aged 20, through subsequent holidays and work trips to the last 15 years as a resident of the Serranía de Ronda in Andalucía.


Carmen Bujanda

The first of my “Carmens” was a Basque, a colleague when I worked as a tourist guide in San Sebastián (Gipuzkoa) in my early 20s.

“Bufanda” (scarf), as we were wont to call her, was very slim, very dark and very attractive. Unfortunately, she had a novio, who was very big and strong, so she was off-limits.



Carmen the Dancer

Still in San Sebastián in the early 70s, this Carmen was the gorgeous flamenco dancer who performed for our clients during one of the excursions we sold.

Carmen was only 18 but already had twin girls. The story goes that she had wanted to delay starting a family, but back then Spain was still a devoutly Roman Catholic country controlled by the not-yet-dead General Franco.

No form of contraception was available in Spain back then, not even condoms. So, she asked a friend, who used to go frequently to nearby France, to smuggle something in for her. He brought her the Pill, yet she still got pregnant. Apparently Carmen thought the pills were pessaries …..!


Other “Carmens”

As time has passed, I have known and forgotten many a Carmen. However, in the last quarter of a century, from 2000 onwards, there have been several Carmens on my radar.


Carmen "Paprika"

I first met this fluent English-speaking señora nearly a quarter of a century ago when I first came to the Barrio San Francisco in Ronda. I had two properties in the barrio and lived there for a time after I retired in 2005.

Paprika was pareja (partner) of German Martin who has lived in Ronda for many a year, after leaving hometown Frankfurt am Main for Andalucia.

Paprika appeared in the Jamie Oliver documentary "Jamie Does Andalucia" (Channel 4, 2009)  that featured Ronda and Benaojan. At the time she was "landlady" of Bar Ambigu, where a segment was filmed.

I popped into the Bar recently, but she no longer works there. According to locals she is still around in Ronda and still with her Frankfurter, Martin.


View Carmen "Paprika" with Jamie Oliver here: Jamie Does Andalucia, Spain (


“Carmen”, the comic opera and film

“Carmen” is an opera in four acts by the French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on the novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked audiences.

The opera was adapted for a 1984 French-Italian film directed by Francesco Rosi. Julia Migenes stars in the title role, and Plácido Domingo as Don José.

The film premiered in France on March 14, 1984, and in the USA on September 20 of that year. In 1985, the film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film.

Much of the film was shot in Ronda (Málaga) where I live, and a local bar in the Barrio Padre Jesús contains photos of the shoot, which include a very young and very slim Placido Domingo, later to become famous as one of The Three Tenors, alongside Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras.


Carmen Myers

This half-Spanish, half-English lady is the wife and manager of Marcus Myers, former guitarist for the English pop duo of the 1990s and early 2000s Alisha’s Attic. The two singers were sisters Shelly and Karen Poole, whose father is Brian Poole of 1960s group Brian Poole and the Tremeloes.

Carmen is a great singer in her own right. I remember a super rendition by Carmen and Marcus of The Beatles song “In My Life" at the funeral in 2023 of our mutual friend Guy Hunter-Watts, 64, the author of 12 books about walking in southern Spain.




Two Carmens in a week!

This past week I have come across two Carmens.

The first was an amateur production of the opera “Carmen” by Bizet (see above) in our local theatre in Ronda. We decided to go. The theatre was packed, but unfortunately the production was not very good, so we left at the interval and went for dinner instead.

Then, yesterday, I showed an American client who is looking to buy a house around here, one of the “houses on my books” (I dabble in house sales as a corredor, or unofficial estate agent).

My contact to arrange a viewing was Carmen, the lawyer daughter of retired Seville-based doctor Rafael and his retired teacher wife, also Carmen.

Carmen, daughter, lives and works in Ronda. As it turned out we had met before. She is the lawyer for a local electricity provider who tried to overcharge me for a house re-wire.

It’s a small world (el mundo es un pañuelo).


© Pablo de Ronda



Guy Hunter-Watts, author and walking guide, RIP (

VIDEO: Three Jamies - including celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver - in one day! (



Carmen Narvaez

Paul Whitelock





Alisha's Attic, Beatles, Benaojan, Bizet, Brian PooleBrian Poole and the Tremeloes, Carmen, Carmen Bujanda, Carmen Myers, Carmen Narvaez, condom, contraception, Cortes de la Frontera, bufanda, dancer, Franco, Guy Hunter-Watts, "In My Life", "Jamie does Andalucia", Jamie Oliver, Jose Carreras, Karen PooleLuciano Pavarotti, Marcus Myers, Montecorto, Pablo de Ronda, "Paprika", Paul Whitelock, Placido Domingo, Prosper Mérimée, Rafael Narvaez, Ronda, San Sebastian, Shelly Poole, Spain,

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