Yesterday I went for a wander around the market in Anton Martin, Madrid. Unlike other old barrio markets in Madrid, this one is still doing pretty well, with plenty of customers milling about and buying from the stalls. The final photo of the man with the pipe is in the Plaza Mayor.
Last week we were in Asturias, staying in Gijon. It’s a small city, industry (pretty heavy), on one side of a river, a lovely old town and beach on the other:
Even in early March, the grannies are on the beach in the morning, getting undressed and stuffing their clothes into giant plastic bags while they prepare to brave the waves for their daily swim.
Postcard views from the old town:
And what food! The menu del dia’s in Gijon comprise FOUR courses, not three, and would often include a fish that you might pay 20 euros for in Madrid alone – in Gijon the whole 4-course meal cost around 9.50 Euros.
One more photo of Gijon, The wonderous Gran Cafe Dindurra. A haven for old floor-tile fetishists (like me!):
And a final one from down the road in Ribadesella:
There are aspects of Spanish ‘Culture’ that you would never dream of until you have children in Spain.
One thing I was protected from for all those years before I became a parent in Spain, was the world of the ‘Cantajuegos’.
The Cantajuegos are kids songs, performed by a very jolly group of people in blue dungarees (see if you can last til the 15 second mark, to see said people):
Now, every single 0 to 6 year old in Spain knows just about every one of the 50+ Cantajuego songs (and usually the moves that go with them), off by heart! Every parent of this age group possesses a copy of the Cantajuegos songs, though as far as I can tell, not many have paid for any of them!
The most common phrase overheard amongst the 30-something parents of this generation when talking about the Cantajuegos music is, “Ah si, yo lo baje del emule”, ‘Oh yes, I downloaded that via emule’, leaving the Blue-Dungaree crew to make money, I imagine, off their live tours for totts.
Many Spanish people don’t feel any moral remorse about downloading films, music etc, as the government taxes us on every single kind of recording and reproduction media, passing the money back to the SGAE (General Association of Authors and Publishers), to redistribute amongst poor, royalty-denied writers, muscians etc.
For example, every time we buy a blank CD, we pay an extra 17 centimos that goes straight to the SGAE, because obviously we are bound to use it to do something illegal with!
You can see a full list of just what gets taxed here, but I was amazed that I was even SGAE-taxed on a new internal hard drive for my Macbook recently! The logic goes with many Spanish media-consumers then, that if we are taxed as thieves before the act, we might as well steal, or in this case, download, guilt-free.
The tax, know here as the hated “Canon por copia privada”, has far-reaching consequences – apparently Catalan hairdressers are up in arms this week, refusing to pay another SGAE-tax to play radio in their salons, asking clients to bring in their own iPods instead!
Back to the Cantajuegos… as much as it drove me mad to begin with, after 7 million repetitions on our living room stereo, I’m now rather fond of the Blue-Dungaree crew’s tunes, I’ll leave you with my favourite:
This ad pains me on so many levels I’m not sure where to start… Roughly translated as: “It’s name is the BioExplorer Insect Spy: Developer of Future Eco-Responsables” – I can’t even translate ‘eco-responsables’ but I guess the meaning is obvious – as the last line says, Suena muy cientifico, “Sounds very scientific”…
Sounds more like “very optimistic” to me – putting poor butterflies etc in small plastic tubes wouldn’t be my first approach to saving the planet, but who knows, good luck to ‘em!
There is more to say, but I shan’t. Comments welcome.
Here’s an interesting article by Richard Morley about the increasing problem of pickpocketing in Madrid. It starts out by describing the experience of a new and more sinister approach I haven’t heard of before, the ‘show me your passport, I’m a policeman’ intimidation approach, which sounds most unpleasant.
Madrid is getting a deserved, and bad, reputation of this sort of tourist-targeting street crime now, which is a real shame (we used to say, “Oh, that sort of thing only happens in Barcelona…”)
It’s about time Spain got tough on this. If they can cut this kind of crime down in other big cities, then why not here?
We were meant to be in Asturias today, checking out places that we might want to live one day, but energies dictated otherwise, and we’ve had to put it off for now. But we’ll get there in the end, to that quiet mountainous province in the north, where the landscapes are so beautiful they just make you want to dance…
(Click pics to enlarge, a bit)