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The Curmudgeon

The curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything.

A Change is as Good as a Rest – No, it’s not! Or is it?
Friday, June 17, 2022 @ 6:36 AM

Most of us don’t like change. Sometimes it’s for the better, but not everybody sees it that way. Pablo de Ronda has noticed a lot of changes recently around his patch. In his opinion, not always good at first, but sometimes it gives new energy to local life. The Curmudgeon, on the other hand, doesn’t like change at all. It just makes him cross. In this joint article, they go into more detail.

Pablo de Ronda: There seems to be a lot of change at the moment. For most of my life I’ve preferred the status quo, because it’s usually easier. Lately, however, and since Covid-19 appeared and blighted our lives to a huge extent, I think that change has often brought about good outcomes.

The Curmudgeon: All the changes we’re experiencing make me really cross and usually just make daily life a lot harder.

 

Death

When someone passes this represents a big change, not just for loved ones of the deceased.

Famous people die all the time.

Recently we lost rock drummer Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones and keyboardist Andrew Fletcher of Depeche ModeVangelis, the Greek composer of those wonderful film scores, such as Chariots of Fire, has left us.

On Monday, as Pablo de Ronda flew to the UK for the strewing of the ashes of Andy, the husband of his niece Nicki and father of Alex and Willow, who died two years ago in a light plane crash in Australia aged 44, he learned that Phil Bennett, the Welsh rugby union legend, had just died aged 73.

Five villagers from Montejaque (Málaga) died of Covid-19, each of which constituted changes to the lives of relatives and friends and to the life of the village.

 

Working from home

Introduced on a massive scale to help countries to cope with the volume of cases of the Coronavirus, this has been a positive change. As employers have realised that the output of their staff has not diminished but increased, that their workers really are working for the company, and not taking the dog for a walk, playing with the children, gardening or decorating the spare room, this has been a positive change, both for the environment (less travel) and for the wellbeing and mental health of their staff.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the UK government cabinet minister, who thinks that all civil servants should return to their offices, should keep his silly mouth shut.

 

Health and Hygiene

The pandemic has brought about a number of changes in the world of health and hygiene.

At the start of the first lockdown, we discovered we had been washing our hands incorrectly for thousands of years. We learned to sneeze into our armpits and to tap elbows or fists as the new form of greeting. Handshakes and kissing on both cheeks was definitely out.

Doctors began telephone consultationsThe Curmudgeon’s wife, after being very ill from Covid-19, was offered physiotherapy ….. over the phone!

Within the private health care sector, many specialists in Ronda declared themselves unavailable for consultations for fear of catching the bicho.

The Curmudgeon says: “We had to travel to the coast to see various specialists. Obviously the Coronavirus wasn’t as dangerous down there, as most specialists continued to ply their trade! Funny, that!”

The vaccination programme went very well in and around Ronda. Pablo de Ronda and his wife were full of praise for the efficiency, timeliness and expertise of Salud Andalucía, who completed three jabs for all adults ahead of time.

“On top of that our certificates were on the Salud Andalucía app within no time at all,” said Pablo.

The downside of the pandemic is that other routine procedures and operations were not dealt with for the best part of two years and there is a huge backlog.

The Curmudgeon, a recently diagnosed type-2 diabetic, complains that he cannot get a blood test on the national health system. “The protocol states that blood tests are only available every six months,” said his doctor.

“It’s ridiculous,” moans The Curmudgeon“Testing the sugar levels in the blood of diabetics regularly is crucially important. In other countries, eg Germany, you get a blood test every month.”

“I can get one done privately on demand, but what about people who can’t afford to? It’s not fair at all!”

 

Daily Life

Cita Previa

Introduced during the lockdowns for hygiene and safety reasons, this is now being abused by companies and organisations continuing with the practice, when arguably it is no longer necessary. For example, The Curmudgeon had to collect a letter from Hacienda last week, so he went along to the office expecting to be able to just pick it up, but no, he had to make a cita previa to carry out a process that took two minutes. "Ridiculous!" he chuntered, "Bureaucracy gone mad!"

On the other hand, sometimes a cita previa would work better and save us a lot of time sitting around waiting.

To do anything at a comisaria de policia, you just have to show up and wait. The Curmudgeon needed to do a denuncia a while back. He had to go three times because the first two times the (only) officer in charge of denuncias was busy on other matters. And on the third occasion he had to wait nearly two hours to get the report done!

“I have better things to do than sit around the police station for ages. And what’s more, they don’t have a public toilet, so if you’ve got a dodgy bladder like I have, it’s a nightmare!”

He also needed to register a rental property. He went twice last week. The first time he waited an hour and then gave up. The second time the (only) officer designated for this task wasn’t even there. He has yet to go a third time.

“I thought the police were supposed to be public servants,” he said. “Hah!”

Banking

There are huge and controversial changes in the field of banking, so much so that The Curmudgeon has left two banks in the space of six months.

“When my main bank, Unicaja, got too big for its boots and went from being a relatively small regional savings bank to becoming the fifth largest bank in Spain, they stopped caring about their loyal customers in Andalucía.”

Despite making huge profits, they’re closing branches left, right and centre and trying to force their customers, many of them old and without computers or smart phones, to do their banking online.

The Curmudgeon continues: “I was with Unicaja for over 20 years, but when they changed their conditions for free banking and wouldn’t budge despite my long time as a client, I closed the account and went to CaixaBank where the requirements for free banking are less onerous.”

He has also just closed his account with BancSabadell for several reasons. Firstly, they closed the branch in Ronda last December. “I knew it would be a problem, not having direct access to a branch (the next nearest is an hour away in San Pedro de Alcántara) but I agreed to give it a try. Sometimes their cajero isn’t working but, worst of all, when I recently ordered new cards, they were unable to activate them even on the phone or online.”

Three times The Curmudgeon called the manager and left messages requesting a call back and no call came. So, he’s closed the account and will just use CaixaBank from now on.

Shopping

A few stores have changed hands. Supersol is no more. French supermarket chain Carrefour bought all their stores in Spain and are in the process of upgrading them, some to their economy chain Supeco"The stores are very yellow," complained The Curmudgeon. "I hate yellow!"

The other former Supersol store on the bypass, which has been closed for many years, was sold off in a different deal to Carmela, a Sevilla chain, and has now been trading for a couple of months.

Mercadona built a brand-new superstore next to ALDI and closed their old store opposite the new bus station. Bright and airy with easier parking, it’s a positive move from the Spanish chain.

Bars and Restaurants

A few bars and restaurants have closed their doors or changed hands in the last few months.

In RondaLocos Tapas has gone, because of the serious illness of owner Guillermo. That’s a real loss. This tiny tapas bar was the most innovative in the town and a delightful place to dine.

Also closed for good is Bar Maestro on Calle La Bola. Husband and wife Rafael and Paqui ran this popular bar for over 50 years before they reached retirement age and decided to stop.

Cafeteria/Panaderia Granier further up the same street seems to have closed its doors for good. We shall miss their excellent breakfasts and their pan noruego.

On the other hand the arrival of Miyagi Express, Ronda’s first Japanese Restaurant, and the new Moroccan restaurant in Plaza Carmen Abela, can only be a good thing for the town.

In Estación de Benaojan, Andy and Pauline have retired and have leased the charming hotel Molino del Santo to an Argentinian couple. "I haven’t tried it under new management yet, but I hear that standards are as high as before," observed Pablo de Ronda.

In MontejaqueBar Nazarí is no more. The young owner, Javi, realised being a “landlord” wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. That's a change for the worse for The Curmudgeon, who loved to go there for a good old moan.

In the same village El Patio de Frasquito Pedro closed when the owner Pepe retired, but, good news, it reopened shortly afterwards as El Patio, when young entrepreneur Jacinto took it on.

Sad news from Estación de Jimera de Libar as Bar Allioli closed its doors after 14 years as the best live music venue in the Serrania de Ronda. We wish Paul and Synnove well.

Parking 🅿

As more and more bars and restaurants spill onto the streets of Ronda, more and more parking spaces are being lost. As streets are pedestrianised or upgraded, parking spaces disappear. Hence, the plan for the new car park in the Barrio de San Francisco, is more than necessary.

In MontejaqueThe Curmudgeon is not the only resident who was aghast when the mayor declared unilaterally that several streets where parking has always been allowed were no longer available.

However, as Pablo de Ronda, a frequent visitor to the village, pointed out: “The council has enlarged and improved the existing municipal car park, adding lighting and creating many more spaces. Work is also continuing to turn the old cemetery into an additional car park. As it has turned out, it was a smart decision.”

New Infrastructure

The new bus station, adjacent to the railway station, is well under construction, and the new swimming pool near LIDL is due to open to the public next week.

The plans for a massive car park in the Barrio de San Francisco to the south of Ronda have been approved, and a new access road from the barrio up to town is being planned.

The Curmudgeon thinks these projects are an unnecessary attack on the countryside in and around Ronda, while Pablo de Ronda thinks that both are necessary to keep traffic out of the centre, where parking is already a nightmare in the spring and summer.

The Alameda park overlooking the valley and the Sierra de Grazalema is due for an upgrade. “A senseless waste of money,” says The Curmudgeon“The Alameda is fine as it is!” Surprisingly, Pablo de Ronda agrees and thinks the money could be better spent elsewhere.

 

Houses changing hands

The housing market seems to be on the move again after years in the Doldrums. In Montejaque alone, more than a dozen houses have been sold in 2022. We will be welcoming new people from other parts of Spain, but also from the UK, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Canada.

“This is a positive change,” says Pablo de Ronda“New blood means new investment in the local economy, eg construction, local shops, bars and restaurants, etc. Many of the houses had not been occupied for years and need renovation.”

“It’s also great to have new and different people from a range of nations to add to the rich tapestry of life in the village,” added Pablo.

 

The Murals

Over the last couple of years Ronda has undergone some changes to the urban landscape. Apart from the changes to the infrastructure mentioned earlier, the “City of Dreams” has acquired three giant murals and is about to acquire a fourth.

The first, a double mural on two apartment blocks at the old bus station were by famous street artist Oscar de Miguel (Okuda), This was followed by one at the Western entrance to the town by local artist Víctor Fernández“It’s my favourite, although I love them all!” said Pablo.

A third piece of wall art appeared on a gable end as you enter Ronda from the north via Avenida de Málaga. Also by Okuda.

The fourth is destined for the floor of a sports facility in San Rafael. This is by artist Víctor García. Work has already started and should last about three weeks.

These murals are part of a project called “Rebranding Ronda”.

Both Pablo de Ronda and The Curmudgeon like this change.

***

So, a change is as good as a rest? I think Pablo de Ronda and The Curmudgeon would have to agree to disagree about this.

***

STOP PRESS: The shock announcement earlier this week that BAR RESTAURANTE LA TERRAZA in Montejaque is to close has taken us all by surprise. That will bring about some changes. “I’ve no more reason to go to Montejaque,” said Pablo de Ronda. “I might have to move out,” grumbled The Curmudgeon.

 



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