Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Britons are having to come to terms with the fact that, once again, their promised barbeque summer has turned in to a couple of barbeque days.

The mind plays curious tricks. I remember the summer days of my childhood and long hot summers were the norm. Except they weren’t of course and although my childhood coincided with the exceptional summer of 1959 even those consecutive hot months was accompanied by heavy storms.

This year partly on the promise of a barbeque summer but more because of the economic crisis and sterling’s slide against the euro many Britons have opted to holiday at home. This is a blessing and a curse for the British holiday industry. It’s good to have the fully booked sign hanging from the holiday village, hotel, boarding house and camp site gate – but as the country is awash how many of these Britons will holiday at home next year? Very few.

Spain has been hit by the recession too because Britons and Germans make up a large quota of the incoming holiday traffic and this year their absence has been noted. It is the ‘national’ tourists who have saved the day but then for many Spaniards holidaying at home is the norm not the exception and often includes a return to the “pueblo” of their birth. I should add that for a Spaniard his or her “pueblo” is everything. It is their identity and their “pueblo” or the “barrio” of a city comes before their province, region and country.

Antonio lives in the valley where I had my house. He grew up on the hillside across from me where his father was the shepherd. He has a house in the village but developed a piece of land with a small dwelling, pool, vegetable plot and storage area for his building business. Apart from his honeymoon and military service he has never roamed from these parts. A few years back his young daughters demanded to spend the day in Puerto Banús. He reluctantly agreed to take them and then wished he hadn’t. The Costa del Sol was like a foreign land and as for the price of drinks... ¡Joder!

Last week my village held its feria. This is a signal for all jimenatos to return from wherever they may now live. As I went to the supermarket a very smart but casually dressed young woman with her two children went ahead of me. She certainly didn’t have the look of a village lass. As we entered the shop she was hailed by a man who asked why she wasn’t in Madrid (which explained her style) to which she proudly replied she had returned to “her pueblo” for the celebrations.

I close this blog at Cañete La Real in the Serranía de Ronda. Now whilst most of us celebrated Noche Vieja – New Year’s Eve – on December 31 the people of this village held their party last Saturday night. Many locals have moved from the village to other places in Spain and Europe but return for the month of August to their “pueblo”. Hence it was decided to hold the New Year’s Eve fiesta in their honour including, of course, a “Miss y Mister Emigrante” competition.

Oh those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer!

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