No End In Sight

Figures published yesterday show a sharp rise in unemployment here in Spain in the first quarter of 2013, such that the level of unemployment is now 27.2% of the workforce; among under twenty fives it is now 57% in Spain as a whole, and even higher - though I don’t have the latest figure - in Andalucía. But there is a second, extremely disturbing factor affecting people now. With unemployment at these levels, it is not at all uncommon to encounter households in which no one has a job. All too often, these families are living in homes on which there is a mortgage. Or those living in rented accommodation, public or private sector, find that they cannot pay their rent. There were demonstrations in Madrid and elsewhere against current government economic policy, but there are also frequent demonstrations against the government’s failure to intervene in the rising tide of evictions by banks repossessing mortgaged properties or private and public landlords reclaiming rented properties to relet to those fortunate enough still to be able to pay rent. Inevitably, organisations like Cáritas and the Spanish Red Cross are finding themselves faced with rapidly rising demands on their food banks and stores of second hand clothing, household goods, etc. Spain is a young democracy, and democracy is highly valued and cherished, but I don’t know how deep-rooted it is, and I wonder whether it can survive in the face of these hardships. If Angela Merkel has any suggestions, I’d be interested to hear them.


"The Sun Has Got His Hat On......

Hip, hip, hip hooray. The sun has got his hat on, and he's coming out to play" as the old song has it. Yes, indeed the sun is shining, the sky is a beautiful shade of blue, and the air is pleasingly warm. Basically, just what we would expect at this time of the year, except that it all seems a bit more so today. I saw my specialist this morning and my bone scan is normal, so we just have the prostate to deal with. Off up to El Mirador tonight for a top class meal.


The Butter Is In The Fridge

We have turned the corner of the year. The butter now gets too soft if left out of the fridge as it has been all winter - which reminds me, incidentally, of what I was told used to be the navigational advice for trans-Atlantic sailors; sail south till the butter melts, then turn right and keep going till you reach Barbados (where, again incidentally, my daughter has just gone on holiday this morning.). I can once again walk the tiled floors of our home in bare feet. The ice and chilled water dispenser on the fridge comes back into its own as the mains water pipes lose their icy chill. And I am back into short-sleeved shirts, though not yet into shorts and sandals, but that cannot be far off now. This morning we drove over to Torre del Mar, a nearby town much favoured by German holidaymakers and expats, and took an hour long stroll along the paseo. All in all, life feels good.


A Very Good Week

The two main themes to this week have been, hosting a visit from our elder daughter and our two granddaughters, and the next steps in my health journey.
Having part of the family to stay has been a delight,as you would expect. It was an opportunity for mum to relax a bit while grandma and grandad indulged the children. L, who will be 10 in August, is very interested in anything to do with the village and the surrounding area, so we two went to see the Holy Week display in the village museum on Monday, and then took a trip to the caves in Nerja on Tuesday, where we could talk about how stalactites and stalagmites are formed - and how long it takes, and why some appear to have grown at a distinct angle to the perpendicular. That, by the way, helped us to work out why the cave paintings were found right at the back of the caves, several kilometres from the entrance, when they were painted by people who would only have had the flames of their torches to see by. The clue is to be found in the non-vertical stalactites and stalagmites. We were also able to marvel at the fact that these people lived in the caves 20 times or more longer ago than the time that Jesus was born. N, who only recently celebrated her seventh birthday, is not really interested in any of this intellectual stuff, much preferring to buy scarves and fans in the local gift shops, and then head to an ice cream shop. At the same time she has quite a wise head on her shoulders. During the holidays she had to practise her reading and had brought her reading book with her - The Wizard Of Oz. We agreed to listen to her reading and she started at the beginning, suddenly pausing at the point when Dorothy's house is whirled up into the sky by the cyclone. "Now," she said very earnestly, "This is not real. This is a dream. The house doesn't really go up into the sky. She only thinks it does cos she is dreaming. Everything until the end isn't real. It's all a dream". Satisfied, she resumed reading for us. I think you can get an idea why we would think that we have two amazing granddaughters.
As to my health, Thursday I had to pop over to our local hospital to pick up the hormone injection kit, which I take into the village health centre on Monday when I have finished the tablets I have been taking; the practice nurse will the give me the injection. On Friday I went to Málaga for my bone scan, the results of which I will learn when I next see my specialist on the 19th of April. Both appointments served to further confirm my belief that if I have to be ill, this is a good country to be ill in. No only did both appointments come through quickly, but on both days I was seen promptly, the waiting areas were light, airy, comfortable and not crowded, the staff were open and friendly, and the equipment looked to be bang up to date.


Holy Week and Easter Week

Semana Santa is over for another year, and it passed off more successfully than many had feared. The weather forecast for the week was pretty grim, cloud, wind and rain. In the event, all the processions were able to go ahead apart from one; sadly, on Good Friday the midnight procession had to be cancelled because of rain. This is when the women of the village, all dressed in black and carrying candles (the only source of light, as all the street lights and all the lights in rooms looking out onto the route are switched off) walk in procession behind Our Lady of Desolation, singing ancient laments a capello. On the other hand, the Easter Sunday procession was able to take place, particularly important as this year is the 25th anniversary of the founding of the cofradía of the Risen Christ. Now, the week after Easter, we are enjoying the company of our eldest daughter and her two daughters who all flew in on Sunday for a week’s holiday. I only get to enjoy six days of their stay; on Friday I have to go into Málaga for most of the day, to the Oncology Dept at the University Hospital to see whether my prostate cancer had spread any wider before my diagnosis. Fingers Crossed!