Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A place in the Sun

I am the blogosphere’s Victor Mildrew. You know how I give out (and with some justification, I believe) about Ireland? Well this place is as bad. Nearly.

Spain seems to be a country that’s only half-finished. Well, at least in the touristy bit where I am at present – a place called Villamartin south of Torreveija – or Torraheny as it is sometimes disparagingly called, due to its past popularity with Irish people eager to get into debt to buy a “place in the sun”, or escape the attention of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

It’s an awful kip altogether, and at the minute it’s blowing a gale and the place is swathed in enough featureless stratocumulous to render the most enthusiastic cloud spotter unconscious with boredom (exept for a brief Damascian break in the clouds that lasted the time it took to take this picture).  Sorry, I’m doing a Victor again. I don’t believe it.

Anyway, it’s interesting to observe the proliferation of half-finished developments, and the number of houses and apartments sporting “se vende” signs (only occurred to me today that’s where we get the term “vendor” from. Or from the Latin root, at least). The pic above is typical, and was taken just a few minutes walk from where I am staying.
I was in Carrefour, Torreveija, earlier today (it’s a big supermarket of the kind not allowed in Ireland due to vested interests) and heard a few Irish accents, but far more English ones of a certain vintage – older people who had retired here. I suppose many of these people had been on holidays to Spain earlier in their lives and had the idea that they might develop the concept by selling up at home and actually come to live here.

Thing is, a holiday is a bit different to living in a place. Chatting to a few of them (as in previous holidays) you can’t help notice that the “blah blah blah... BUT we’re glad we came here” is a recurring one. Thing is, when you’re sixty-fi ve-plus and have sold up everything you’ve worked for at home and have no way of reversing your decision, you’re going to say that, aren’t you?

Another thing. When you get older, the chances of having a heart attack, a stroke, cancer or whatnot are increased. So the chances of saying a lasting goodbye to a loved one in a hospital where standards of care are actually lower than they are in Ireland or Britain is greatly increased. Then throw into the mix the fact that you can't actually communicate, in any meaningful sense, in the adopted country of your dotage (most retirees here can't, in my experience). “Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye”, as the song goes.

Maybe the changed economic circumstances in Ireland - and Spain - will mean many Irish won't have that place in the sun to look forward to on retirement.  And perhaps that's no bad thing?

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Anonymous said...

gday mr gm just buy buy buy buy great value dont worry next year it will be twice the price sorry about the clouds its grand here in beverly hills cheeers

anna said...

Well my Spanish flat mate Ana + Irish boyfriend took off for Madrid in 2004, on realising she was pregnant :Ana was dismayed on being told how long she would have had to wait for various checks and scans if she had stayed in Ireland- so off home, as pregnancy care would be quicker and totally free in Madrid .She also commented on how few playgrounds Dublin had ( during the so called boom an interesting stat came up – Ireland had more Golf courses than children’s playgrounds!).
A lot of those unfinished apartments in Spain may well have been intended for Irish ‘speculators ‘ widely spending the money of hard saving Germans.
And mad speculation should not have been allowed in Spain either.
However Luis, a Spanish co worker of mine recently commented that even tho things may be difficult in Spain now, the Government would Never Dare slash the Health budget, Education and Social welfare. In other words things that mattered to the lives of ordinary people. Of course in Ireland money that should be spent on services for ordinary people is slashed, so we can safeguard our rich.
Anyway enjoy your holiday, I am sure the rain is warmer…and the restaurants are far cheaper.

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Mr BH, Anna.

I'm glad to say it seems a bit nicer today - blue sky at last!!! Yes, the interests of the rich in Ireland are paramount. Just been looking at the Indo online and there's a piece saying they are still "in denial" and are living their lifestyles as before. Surprise, surprise, eh?

El Ponyboy said...

GM - Happy holidays old buddy and hopefully all your batteries will get the full solar recharge they so richly deserve. I've been on holiday myself over the last week or so up in the Bay of Fires in the NE of Tasmania -remote as all hell up there - no mob, no wifi no telly but on the way home would you fucking believe it when we (myself and Lady Von PonyBoy) finally emerge from the communication shadow WHAT'S ON the ABC - THE NATIONAL BROADCASTER FOR THIS MASSIVE (i'll stop shouting now) Continent - an interview with two ever so smug Gaeilgoirs bangin' on about the importance of the teanga duchais on the home turf of Ireland. The Aussie interviewer was putty in their hands and while I must admit I've always been a bit of a sucker for those Donegalians and their lilt, I managed to maintain objectivity and reached for the dial. The Gombeen Nation's Highest award might be in order - the Oak and Cluster doused in Rioja possibly. Have a great holiday - you and Bean GM both.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the contrast with Ireland is intersting GM. Could it really be any worse there than here? Okay the health service may not be as good - and thats some achievement! - but I'd say everthing else is. Couldnt be any worse.

Anonymous said...

GM I should have signed above. Second time I must start using a url. Anyway, could I just say to you, enjoy your holiday because what you face is returning to this place. Although Spain and every other country for that matter, have their problems at the moment, after battling my way into work this morning, really, its better where you are! The fundamental problem with this damn country GM is, you cant get from A to B. It just feels so completely wrong. I know the public transport is virtually unavailable here and the infrastructure is very very basic but the addition of troublesome Irish drivers makes it almost unbearable. They cant drive without doing something silly and/or childish. I just cant understand the drivers here. Why are they soooo thick????

Can I just say GM, I am currently contemplating what it is about this damp Island - exactly what! - it is which infureates me so much. I was talking to a very good friend of mine yesterday, who happened to be living in Frankfurt for years and returned back here to say hello. Just a social visit. He hated his stay here and said he couldnt wait to get the hell off this island and get back to Germany! I understood instantly what he was talking about.

A really nice guy just here for a two week visit. He didnt know how or why people live here. He said its the rudeness which shocked him. He had a number of instances ranging from complete indifferance to outright bullying, when out driving and walking around just sightseeing. I told him that was the way it was here now. I dont think he will be coming back.

I dont know GM, really it all comes down to individuals and responsibility. Why is this country so different to virtually every other country in Europe? Why? Why cant individuals behave like rational, decent human beings here???


The Gombeen Man said...

No getting away from the buggers, Ponyboy. Hopefully they won't get any grants there though. Will they???????

You're right Dakota. We're getting a bit of sun now so I'm a little less curmudgeony!

Thanks both for your good wishes