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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