Thursday, 1 September 2011

Sunshine and shipwrecks

September has begun, as predicted, with sunshine. Whether or not this will continue remains to be seen but today has been delightful and I have spent most of it ferrying two smallish grandchildren around the bridle paths and towpaths of our area from one children’s playground to another. Not a bad way to spend the day. Even into the evening the day remained bright and mild.

Before we began our wanderings, however, I checked my various forms of electronic communication and found that my sister had put a sad little post on Facebook. Now, my sister has lived longer in the Andalusian town of El Puerto de Santa María than she ever did in the northwest of England. I first went to see her there almost thirty years ago when she was still teaching English at a language school across the bay in Cádiz. So we would get up quite early, walk through the quiet morning streets of El Puerto down to the harbour where we caught the little ferryboat known as el vaporcito – the little steamer - across the Guadalquivir to Cádiz.

Around eleven years later my children also made that journey across the bay and years after that my eldest granddaughter also travelled on the ferry but I doubt that she remembers as she was only two. Just about all our family has crossed the bay that way at some time in the last thirty-odd years. On one famous occasion my father forgot his sunhat and got serious sunburn on his bald pate.

My sister’s Facebook post was lamenting the sinking of that very ferryboat. Apparently the boat ran into the quayside, making a hole somewhere near the bow and in seven minutes the boat was sunk. Just like that! ¡así de rápido! They managed to get all the passengers and crew off the boat but couldn’t prevent the poor little vessel from going under. The pilot has been breathalysed and found not to be under the influence of alcohol. This has not prevented fifteen passengers from making a denuncia, an official complaint against the pilot. Some of them claim that he fell asleep and had to be warned by passengers of the imminent collision. Whatever the cause, the boat was holed and down she went.

By nine o’ clock this morning, however, some 2000 people had already signed up to a Facebook page campaigning to get el vaporcito back to the surface. All the political parties seem to have affirmed that it would be a pity to lose the boat permanently and Pepa Conde, spokesperson for Izquierda Unida declared that refloating what she described as una de nuestras señas de identidad would be an investment in the future of the area. We shall see.

In the course of my investigations I discovered a little bit of the interconnectedness of everything. The ferryboat known generally as el vaporcito and really called Adriano III was built in Vigo in 1955, probably in one of the boatyards we know from our two years in Vigo.

As I have said many times before, el mundo es un pañuelo – it’s a small world.