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Friday, June 17, 2005

Not Spanish fly..

Spanish fly some kind of VD I think.... no this post isn't about that, just some other curiosities of Spanish/Canarian life. (Though she divides them, most of the below apply to both, as far as Granny can tell.)

Camino Cortado. Otherwise known as 'road closed.' This can happen for all kinds of reasons - visit of local bigwig, fiesta, digging up of pipes... now and then it appears to be just for the hell of it. What all have in common is that warning is rarely if ever provided in advance, to enable you to take an alternative route; nor are diversions are signed. You just have to head off into the unknown and hope you can find your way back onto a route which will get you where you were trying to get to in the first place... The problem is somewhat less acute on this island than on the mainland - being an island, it's hard to get lost for long; directions are basically to the hills - or to the sea; else, simply, north, south, east, west. Via any of which you end up in the Atlantic Ocean if you don't stop. Also, thanks to tourists - lost tourists milling about can inconvenience locals - they do here offer alternative routes for longer-term roadworks. Longer-term as in LONGER-TERM; a road once dug up is often left for MONTHS. Granny was pleased to see that, at last, on the camino cortado currently inconveniencing her there was some sign of activity. (At least until siesta time when for four hours it all stopped dead.)

Planning laws. As in labyrinthine planning laws. You can do little, even on your own property without applying for expensive - and tortuously long in coming - permission. On the other hand if you go ahead blithely without permission - most people do - your come-uppance or not depends on the following;

1. Neighbour malice. If you upset your neighbours they may - they will - inform on you... In which case police will arrive and stop you building your toolshed, raising your wall, digging your swimming-pool. And if you persist action WILL BE TAKEN.

2. Whim. Sometimes the planning authorities - their local agents - will get you for what appears to be the hell of it. Or maybe because for once in a while they need to be seen to apply their own rules. Mostly they don't, because the people who sell you materials - bloques etc - are very often the people who run local affairs. The ironmonger here, for instance, was mayor for several years. It was not in his interests to block DIY, was it?

3. Influence. If you have influence (ie are rich, powerful, sell bloques, etc) you can get away with anything on this island. If you haven't, ploy is to cosy up to those who do. (Learning good Spanish helps.)

4. Bribery. This of course can backfire. But not if you have pull with the above. Present head of ruling party is in prison for corruption. Doubt if this harmed those who bribed him. They got away with what they wanted to get away with a long time ago.

Fiestas Frequent. At time it feels like once a week - often they celebrate saints too obscure to be heard of anywhere else. Everything shuts. (Very inconvenient if you don't know, have invited 10 people to dinner and left shopping till the day. You can get round this by heading for tourist resorts where the shops stay open. Unfortunately they tend to specialise in many varieties of German sausage, fish fingers, frozen pizza, etc, to cater for visitors; their vegetables - not a wide variety - can sell for the prices they might do in the far north of Norway in mid-winter. (10 euros for a cauliflower... yes, really.) If you have planned on recipes needing wide variety of local fish, spices, fresh chillies etc, forget it. (Unless you grow the latter of course.)

Organic or fairtrade anything. According to owner of nearest health food shop, the only places you get such things in Spain is either near the coast/on the islands: (foreign visitors/expats into such things) or in Catalonia or Basque country (both - coincidentally? - having some of the best and most interesting food in Spain.) The Castilians, she said - ferociously - obviously she was not Castilian - are not interested in anything like that. Canarians themselves aren't interested in such things either, she added. Evidently she is not a Canarian either. (This was obvious. Granny could understand her Spanish.)

Following unguarded (very unguarded) comment by Granny, Beloved is now muttering about raising rabbits. (As if they didn't already raise themselves, happily, all over their land.) Granny herself, meantime, is still proposing to write about chickens. Can you wait?

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