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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Name Calling
Monday, December 26, 2022 @ 6:10 PM

Taxi drivers always have trouble in those countries where they change the names of things. Prithee take me to such and such on the 'General Mola' became the day after Franco keeled over, please take me to the 'Principe de Vergara'. The General was an old mate of the Spanish führer's and no one can remember who on earth the Prince was.

Somebody nice, no doubt.

Name changes in Spanish streets, public buildings and so on are indescribably popular, especially when there's nothing better to do. No doubt President Sánchez is working hard on this. Well, with all the current efforts to remember or honour certain parts of the ghastly Civil War of 1936 to 1939, we know he is.
Even the famous mausoleum with the gigantic stone cross - the Valle de los Caidos - has now been returned/switched/changed to El Valle de Cuelgamuros. In English, it's still called The Valley of the Fallen. It's off the beaten track somewhere in the mountains half-way between Madrid and Segovia. Ask your taxi driver.
To avoid getting the street wrong (if you knew what it was called anyway), you say to your driver 'it's in the road after the old purple church, just past that place which does the churros' and hope that he will know where you mean. This useful service, unfortunately, has yet to be added to the Google Maps.
In Madrid, the cabbies often affect to not understand. 'Take me to the Plaza Mayor', said my father years ago, when there weren't many foreigners in the Spanish capital. My father was very tall, red-headed and covered in freckles, so it was an easy jump to suppose that my dad was an extranjero. It therefore followed that, since the taxi driver didn't speak a word of foreign, there wouldn't be much point in listening. 'Plaza Mayor' repeated my father several times, while uncomfortably bent in the back and trying to catch the driver's eye in the mirror.
Eventually, as the driver was nudged left, right and straight-on by his increasingly indignant passenger, they arrived in the most famous square in Spain. The taxi driver, pleased with his service, turned to my dad and said 'Señor, we call this the Plaza Mayor'.

So we manage as we must, with street names and even statues falling out of favour (there's a warehouse full of caudillos somewhere).
In the UK it's easier, as the authorities have been wise to choose anodyne street-names which stand the test of time and political swings (unless of course the Greens get in). Here though, the first things that go when the new lot take over are the statues, the names of the avenidas and even the curriculum in the schools.
I feel sorry for the postmen. The address where I currently live is exactly the same as another colonia about a kilometre away. We get their mail and they get ours. Being the kind of neighbours we are, it all ends in the trash (which explains, Dear Auntie Bess, why I never sent you a receipt for your Christmas present).
In Mojácar, there are streets named after every nation in Europe: Calle de Rumanía, Calle de Portugal, Avenida de Francia and so on. Every nation that is, except Britain, or the UK or the Reino Unido or however the hell we call the old place these days. England I might have said. Now, despite about 40% of the entire population being sons of the accursed Albion, it seems they don't deserve a street. Not even a little alleyway. Not even, just for a few short months, between the nomination of the new president of the diputación or something.
There are also no streets honouring the foreigners who 'discovered' or 'brought back from the brink' the small and humble resort. Well, there was one - Pete Pages (a short, fat and merry 'antique' dealer from Brooklyn) put up a sign in the narrow lane next to his shop about forty-five years ago for 'Calle de Pedro Barato'. Cheap Pete street. The current mayoress, not known for her love towards the foreigners, recently changed the name (much to the confusion of the Google Map people) to the prosaic 'Calle Cal' - Whitewash Street.
Actually a lane, I should point out, and far too narrow for taxis.
Otherwise, there's nothing there to remind the current population of the great characters who moved to Mojácar from other countries in the years gone by - bringing life, soul, a strong thirst for cheap brandy and tolerably bulging wallets.
Nevertheless, and to prove me wrong, everyone is currently enthused to hear of a new name change. This one is going to be for a square, the one in front of the town hall with the big tree in the middle. Come to think of it, I'm not certain it even has a name. 'Town Hall Square' or something. Anyhow, the word is that it will soon be baptized with the rather foreign-sounding 'Plaza de Walt Disney'.
See, despite what they might tell you in Orlando, Wally was really a mojaquero (well, you can't prove that he wasn't), so they are not breaking too many rules, beyond the one about 'good taste' perhaps. And while the town hall doesn't appear to show much interest in its foreign population, it certainly approves wholeheartedly of tourism.
But please, spare us a statue of Mickey Mouse.

Like 5


DoubleJ said:
Saturday, December 31, 2022 @ 11:21 PM

The main drag in Orgiva where we live is Calle Dr Fleming. Scottish I know, but still in the Uk…. well, at least for the next six months or so

lenox said:
Sunday, January 1, 2023 @ 8:41 AM

From Wiki: 'A statue of Alexander Fleming stands outside the main bullring in Madrid, Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. It was erected by subscription from grateful matadors, as penicillin greatly reduced the number of deaths in the bullring'.
Actually, Madrid (unlike the UK) also has a 'Plaza de Margaret Thatcher'!

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