If you read this blog on a regular basis, you will know that I am always banging on about how organised Spain, particularly Andalusia, is right now; frankly at the moment it feels as if Marbella is just about the safest place in Europe! However, as you will also know, I get very frustrated by the outside world’s perception of it and how scared people appear to be to come here, despite the cheap flights and hotels, the weather (24 degrees here today, sigh) and everything else that makes it so special. That appears, however, to be slowly changing, as this last week we have seen quite a few tourists arriving, and have been bumping into a lot of Czechs!!!
The Czech theme started with a continuation of our fag-end drama. Last weekend, as I mentioned, threats of denunciation were hurled at the neighbours just behind us, and all seemed to have gone very quiet until we woke up the other morning and I went out onto the bedroom terrace to do a fag inspection, only to find a rather nice mattress lying on the floor, which had appeared out of nowhere. This seemed a rather unlikely retaliation, but with no way for it to have got there other than from the windows behind us, it seemed we had really started something…. first fag ends, then mattresses… what might arrive next? (The mattress, actually, was quite nice – it looked like something that usually sat on a park-type bench or similar, so I was quietly hopeful that one of those might follow, as it would actually look very good either on the terrace or in our courtyard).
But anyway, back we went to the Pueblo Manager, who wrote to the owner again, blah, blah, blah, and later in the day an elderly woman appeared by our gate, explaining that the mattress was hers and could she have it back (Jan, who met her, didn’t think to ask how it had actually got onto our terrace… for God’s sake….so that’s still a bit intriguing). Anyway, she spoke first in broken Spanish, so he suggested English, but that was equally broken, so he asked where she came from (Jan, being the linguist as already mentioned, will manage whatever) and yes, guess what, she was Czech. Not only that, but her family were emigres from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia (a subject that Jan is mildly obsessed with), so that made his day. (I know that this is a bit of a long-winded start to the ‘Czech theme, but stay with me on this).
THEN, that evening, we had drinks with our Czech modelly friend (the one we met in the art gallery) and she told us that Karolina Pliskova (one of the top women tennis players in the world) was here practising on the same courts as Djokovic the other week. Since I used to play on the court next to her when she was a junior at our club in Prague (just saying….!), that didn’t generate too much excitement from us, but the next day as we were heading to the beach, there she was, out sunbathing with everyone else – see her picture here and ours in exactly the same place later!
Jan has some fascination with Czechs abroad (no idea why, since he is not that fascinated when he is at home!) so every time he hears someone speaking the language, he has to stop and talk to them (actually, on reflection, he tends to stop and talk to pretty much anyone anyway (especially if they are attractive ladies), so he had a quick chat with her before we took up our usual places right on the edge of the sea. No sooner had we got comfortable, than two very pretty boys of about 10 appeared, kicking a ball around and wearing Slavia (football club) T shirts, so Jan (of course) called out to them in Czech to ask if they were real Slavia fans (since he is), to which they responded that yes they were and, in fact, Dad was a former player and was sitting in the beach bar (wouldn’t you know!) just along from where we were parked. That required us, of course, to leave via the bar (although no sign of Dad by then) and to wonder who we were going to bump into next.
We didn’t have to wait long. Next morning, as Jan was running to the beach, he was stopped by a couple out walking who asked in broken English how to find a place just near to our house, and, again, on asking where they were from (Jan always has to know for some reason, which sounds rather sweet, but can get awfully irritating…. a bit like being out for a walk with one of those dogs that has to pee on every tree….) was told that the guy was a Czech tennis player and he was here to play in a tournament this coming week… blimey. Needless to say, telephone numbers had to be exchanged and no doubt we will be off to watch that over the coming days, since it is actually looks like being quite a good one. I could go on a lot more, since we seem to keep on bumping into them (to the point that Jan has started hailing everyone that we meet in Czech, first, just in case they are) but I think that’s enough.
Mind you, it’s no wonder a lot of Czechs are heading over here just now, with the Covid situation as it is in the CR. At the moment it is difficult to know what to read and what to watch in the way of news, since what is coming out of the UK is absolutely dreadful, and the CR is not far behind.. and watching either or both are sure to whip me into a frenzy (and, in the case of the CR in particular, to have an even worse effect on Jan!) For sure, anyway, we won’t be leaving here any time soon. In fact, I have even started to do a little bit of work for a company here in Marbella, virtually for free, but who cares – it is giving my brain something to do and may turn into something more (I will talk about it once it is a bit more established).
From what I have been saying, you might think that it is all completely back to normal down here – and it is, up to a point. But what is clear is that it is not just a question of getting control of the Covid situation, then opening everything up and boom, the economy bursts into life – far from it. As I have said before, apart from people wearing masks and socially distancing, everything appears to be fine.. but with such a reduced number of tourists and with locals still being very cautious, a lot of people are already in a very difficult situation, and it is going to take a long time before the economy really starts to improve… virus or not.
Alongside all the shops and restaurants for rent or sale here, the roaring trades that the porn shops seem to be doing and the number of people that we are seeing begging on the street is, sadly, the increase in crime – not just the big stuff that is being reported (I think I mentioned before about a hotel being burned down (insurance?) and some other nasty things..). But now we are being warned about squatters breaking into houses all over Marbella and then refusing to move (with so many holiday homes standing empty and the law very relaxed on these things), plus one of our good friends has had her house broken into twice in the last couple of months (something that is never normally heard of down here).
Actually this last time was just a couple of weeks ago and was by a young guy (her son came home and found him) who literally ‘walked up the wall of the house’ and climbed in through the top window, and then, when he was caught, jumped straight back out, dropped to the floor more than 3 metres below and legged it (we decided he must have been one of those amazing ‘parkour’ guys…). Clearly there are, and will be everywhere, an awful lot of desperate people about. Which is very sad.
On that note, I am now getting ready to watch the latest BJ press conference in the UK (not that that will cheer me up!!). I have been tweeting all week about the situation there, whilst Jan is doing his bit on the Czech FB page (thankfully he has been leaving the Alicante Ladies group alone for a while)….. I’m not sure that either of us are achieving very much other than irritating everyone, but it makes us feel better. More on that soon!