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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Breakfast on the Costa
Monday, May 9, 2022 @ 7:03 PM

In the eighties, a bumper-sticker plastered on the back of a number of vehicles in the USA’s most intriguing state would read ‘Welcome to California. Now Go Home’. Behind the wheel of the old rust-bucket bought from a dealer in Detroit (where else?), I felt a bit of an interloper driving around The Golden State with my travellers cheques, my snappy British accent and my half-empty jar of Ovaltine.
Tourism may not have been such a Big Thing in California, despite the popular song from Supertramp (here ya go) and the steady arrival of farmers from the Dust Belt looking for a decent job; but, at 12% of GDP (here), it’s certainly a Big Thing in Spain. Before the pandemic, around twice as many foreign tourists chose to enjoy Spain's charms as there are Spaniards living here. And, if that was not enough – with two people dressed in lederhosen, or with peeling noses, or perhaps wearing sticky ‘Gibraltar is British’ tee-shirts for every Spaniard, you can add the huge numbers of displaced Spaniards themselves – everyone has a right to a vacación – flocking to the same destinations.
Those resorts will have put up the flags, organised a fiesta and will be ready for the onslaught. Shops full of glitter, bars with cold beer and restaurants with fresh fish. The late night joints will be buzzing and the cops will be on every corner, complacently fingering their books of fines. A loud midnight buzz of people, fun, parties, botellones, noise, fire-crackers, sirens, arguments, screams, music, songs and the burble and bang from those irritating Harley Davidsons... The following morning, there’s the rubbish to clean up.
Money is made, vast amounts of money for the shop-keepers, the apartment owners, the barkeeps, the souvenir shops: the municipality itself – but that’s no consolation for the normal folk, those who live here year round, working in ordinary jobs or retired, who must somehow get through their day: past the jams, the queues, the noise and the dust.
The town fiesta: costumes and spectacle, paid with our taxes, is so full of visitors, that there’s no parking, no room, and no welcome for the locals who with resignation will decide to stay home and see it on the telly. ‘We’ll go next year’ they say.
The apartment block: with half of the flats rented out, a two-bed apartment with twelve people staying there, filling the pool for a late-night dip, uprooting the flower bed and being sick in the lift.
So now we have a new word: la turismofobia. And we read the headlines, particularly about Barcelona and Madrid, Granada and Palma, where the cities are taken over by the tourist hoards. How can one rent an apartment when the owner can earn five or ten times as much as a weekly tourist-let (legal or otherwise)? The football hooligans, over for a match between one of their and one of ours. The drunken swarms of young foreigners bellowing and vomiting their way across the coast-road. The staggering numbers of flights into Spain (275 million people passed through a Spanish airport in 2019). Then there are the cruise ships, with their sudden massive influx into the local port.
Worst of all, we simple guiris, as we negociate our way through the crowds of trippers, must make that same answer, over and over again: 'No, I'm no tourist, I live here'. In the old days, we stuck out by not carrying a camera. Now we have to wear long trousers instead.
This is a fabulous country and there are few better places to live; but on the car, there’s a new sticker. It reads: ‘Welcome to Spain. Now Go Home’.

Like 3


lenox said:
Monday, May 9, 2022 @ 9:45 PM

Cor: 100 articles so far!
Would potential publishers please form an orderly queue.

sdeleng said:
Saturday, May 14, 2022 @ 10:27 AM

That’s why I live in the mountains far away from the maddening crowds. I omit an na Donald’s or English style anything. The locals love the grietas still and they are still a very Spanish affair. Yes a book please!

pjck said:
Saturday, May 14, 2022 @ 11:11 AM

Yeah, it would be better if all those tourist left their money (because we like their money, don't we?) and go home immediately. Or maybe they could just transfer it, from where they live...

You cannot eat a cake and still have it.

oldjonesey said:
Saturday, May 14, 2022 @ 1:06 PM

I saw a bumper sticker the other day it read:
"Please be patient you were a learner once"
Substitute learner with tourist perhaps?

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