So here we are, nearly two weeks since we arrived in Spain and it looks as if we ain’t going anywhere soon; the situation in the Czech Republic gets grimmer by the day (as, of course, does the UK, but who knows when we can ever get there!) so it looks as if we are now back into another, but this time ‘self-enforced’, lock-down, for another who knows how long.
That is not, of course, a hardship, and I have been reminding myself of that every morning, as despite all of the loveliness here it still feels pretty depressing, as I know it is for everyone else (unless they live on the moon or some other ‘Corona-free’ place that we have yet to hear about. That, actually, reminds me of an article I read on Twitter the other morning that talked about how the majority of people in the UK have no idea about what is happening elsewhere… I suspect that is the case in most countries as everyone is so focused on their own situation, but it seems to me that it would be useful for the media, generally, to give a much wider picture of the situation in some different places (Africa, Middle East, Latin America for example) in order to put the whole thing into a better perspective. Plus if everyone in the UK realised how just about the whole world wears masks all of the time, they might not fight against it so much…just saying).
So anyway, as I say, here we are again, back into our regular schedule of social media and news-watching then fitness training, sun-bathing, working and so on, all much the same as before, with the only difference being that we can actually go outside freely and the Marbella world is operating almost as normal (although not quite.. more on that later). We still try to speak Czech and Spanish during the morning (alternately, although I must say that in my case it is often together as I keep getting my wires crossed, maybe due to age or madness from the last eight months, or maybe I am just not much of a linguist – Jan, of course, flips from one language to another all day long and completely effortlessly).
That reminds me of my early days in the Czech Republic when I shared an office with a rather bonkers but lovely Czech lady called Irena, who was completely fluent in about 20 different languages and who could conduct conversations in all of them at more or less the same time, barely drawing for breath unless it was for puffing on one of the many cigarettes that would be burning in various ashtrays around our office – I, too, I am afraid to say, was a puffer, but only about 40 a day, unlike Irena, who was up to about 100 by the time she quit (she will kill me for saying all this). BUT THEN one day she returned from a trip to London and boom, no more smoking. She had secretly been for some hypnotherapy in a place that I followed her to soon after (best thing I ever did!), and many friends followed me .. so actually she probably saved all of our lives in the end!).
Still on the subject of fags, though (rather a smooth movement I think!), and the situation that I mentioned in my last blog. Having initially thought to storm round to our neighbours’ house and dump everything that we have collected on their doorstep, we decided that, in the spirit of good Pueblo relationships, we should go through proper channels to make a complaint (which meant reporting it to the Pueblo manager, who then sent a rude email to the owner of the building where the fags ends were being chucked from). And that resulted with an apologetic message from a rather grand Spanish guy who promised that it wouldn’t happen again. And it didn’t… until a couple of days ago, when we came out to check on the state of the now clean and empty pool and found about 20 new fag ends floating in a pool of dirty water. And since the only way it could have got there was by someone chucking it all over the wall, we are now moving into all-out war. Jan needless to say, and being a lawyer, has threatened all sorts of nasty things if this fag-harassment doesn’t stop, including just about the worst thing that you can do to a Spaniard, and that is to ‘denounce’ the owner in the local court (in Spain you can threaten murder, run off with someone’s wife, steal their dog, do whatever… but that all fades into insignificance compared to denouncing them!). We will see what comes next.
Sometimes it is very handy to have a lawyer in the house, but it can also be exhausting to live with (I can hear the comments already!!), since, as I am often being told, lawyers can’t help but have to argue every single point, irrespective of how important it is to one’s daily life – it is their training. My answer is that lawyers always like to see things in black and white, right and wrong, whereas we [former] PR people are more likely to say ‘what would you like it to be; black or white? I can do either’. I was thinking about this whilst walking on the beach track the other morning and pondering the Albanian comment (and the Albanian, although he has not been seen again, sadly!) that I made in my last blog (and on which I have had several responses) as it reminded me how we are so quick to base our assumptions on what we have read or heard rather than on fact – so our idea that someone Albanian must be a drug dealer or gigolo is based purely on the fact that we only ever hear about Albanians when they have done something awful (people trafficking, prostitution, etc) and all it would take is to get a few good Albanian footballers or something into the public eye to change that perception….
This then led me to think about Spain, and what a bad PR job they have been doing in regard to the virus (or, alternatively, what a good job other countries’ PR people have been doing to make Spain look so bad!). I know I keep banging on about it, but whilst it is all so well organised and safe here, it still seems that everyone outside imagines that it is the biggest virus Hellhole on earth, hence why pretty much no-one except us is travelling here. And that is starting to cause some really big problems that it is difficult to see the end to.
I have already mentioned how quiet the beaches are and all the businesses related to them, but the longer we stay here, the more we see how hard all the other businesses have been hit. Of course the hotels have suffered massively, although some are now open (Marbella being an ‘all-year-round destination’) and most of the restaurants, but there are so many other businesses that are allowed to be open but are not, since it is just not worth their while if there is no-one here. The lovely shops, the less lovely estate agencies, many different service companies, the publishing houses (the once-great monthly magazine, Essential Marbella, now reduced to a quarterly, due to so little advertising, events to cover, etc)… all of these businesses seem to get forgotten in the scheme of things.
Even our Slovak friend who builds the amazing sand castles that line the town beaches (he has a degree in sand-sculpture from, of all places, a university in Slovakia (who knew??!!) and who, we used to say, must be one of the richest men in Marbella, as every time someone walked past the statues they would hurl cash onto the carpet around them, and since the smallest coins seemed to be Euros, and about a million people passed each day…. need I go on. But, anyway, he has now been demoted to selling beach beds and umbrellas, so I doubt he is going to retain his title any time soon, and the lovely sandcastles that he made are slowly dissolving into dust.
Hey ho. I think there is only one thing for it at this point, and before I depress myself any further, and that is to go out and help the local economy. More from me soon!