Sunday, 4 October 2009

On tears and celebrations and plastic raincoats!

Well, it seems that much of Spain went into mourning on Friday as the news was released that Madrid will not after all host the 2016 Olympic Games. One of my friends has even expressed her sorrow on Facebook.

For a brief moment it looked as though Madrid might make it when Chicago was eliminated, despite the intervention of the oh-so-charismatic President Obama, flying in on Airforce One at the last moment. Then Tokyo went out of the race – not enthusiastic or passionate enough was the general consensus of opinion! It was becoming a very close thing. The Madrid team were getting ready to celebrate.

But in the end the votes which had previously gone to Chicago and Tokyo were transferred to Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilians won it hands down. There was some discussion on the television news about the fact that Brazil has the football world cup in 2014 and now the Olympic Games in 2016. Will they cope? President Lula seemed to have no doubts as he wept for joy at the success of his country’s Olympic bid.

Meanwhile a small boy wept for the cameras in Madrid; he really wanted to see the Olympic Games in Madrid! At least he’s young enough for that to be a possibility and the general feeling is that Madrid should try again ... and again ... and again, if necessary.

And the queen of Spain congratulated the team on the presentation they made. It was good to see King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia there in Copenhagen with the Madrid presentation team. I am always impressed at how close to the people they are on occasions like this.

And here in Galicia there are other things to prepare for as well. Since my weekend at the Galicia Chess Festival I am the proud owner (well, at any rate, the owner) of a Xacobeo 2010 tee-shirt. Xacobeo 2010 is an organisation created by the Xunta de Galicia to promote the Camino de Santiago for next year. 2010 is a special year, un año santo, a holy year, when the feast of Saint James falls on a Sunday, bringing extra blessings on those pilgrims who complete the Camino de Santiago. A door into the cathedral which is closed and blocked with stone in ordinary years is ceremonially opened by the bishop in the año santo.

So it is expected that there will be extra pilgrims and extra sightseers in Santiago de Compostela next year. We were there for the celebrations and the fireworks in 2007 when Saint James’ day fell on a humble Wednesday. The city was packed then and we were hard pressed to find a place to stand and view the firework display that year. So goodness knows what a Holy Year will bring.

Of course, as Santiago de Compostela is also famous for its rainfall, there is a strong possibility that the whole thing could be a bit of a damp squib. Probably not, however, as everyone can equip themselves with chubasqueros. A chubasquero is basically a raincoat but the term is also used for the plastic ponchos that you can buy at almost seaside town or open air event when it suddenly starts to rain and you want to walk around looking as though you are wearing an oversized plastic bag. Now, the Orense-based company Inplanor is going to produce these chubasqueros for another Spanish company, Equilicuá, making them out of biodegradable plastic. The biodegradable plastic will be made from ... wait for it! ... yes, you’ve got it! ... POTATOES!!!

This is a special kind of biodegradable plastic, however. Incorporated into the “fabric” of the plastic are seeds. When the chubasquero is finished with, it can be buried. The plastic will biodegrade in weeks and the seed will start to grow.

Special chubasqueros are being produced for the Xacobeo 2010 and the seeds incorporated into the fabric will be those of native Galician trees. Save the environment, plant a tree, improve the air quality! All this in a Holy Year!


  1. Can't wait to see the first potato tree to spring up!

  2. That will keep the potato lovers happy!