Friday, 15 June 2012

Out and about.

Spain defeated Ireland at football last night: Spain 4 – Ireland 0. We watched the end of the match in a cafe on Urzáiz where we go or free wifi and free tapas with our drink. 

It’s important to know which are the wifi cafes. We have our mobile dongle from Vodafone but we are rather afraid that the gigabyte that we have three months to use may well get used up much more quickly than that. Hence, wifi cafes. The chess club is also good for free wifi but it can get a bit hot and sweaty in there in the evening. It must be all the brain power being used and generating heat. 

Anyway there was much jubilation over Spain’s victory. 

This morning the tat-sellers on the street were offering little Spanish flags as well as the usual CDs, DVDs, “ethnic” beads and other assorted stuff that you really don’t want to buy. I feel sorry for these poor men who resignedly go in and out of bars touting their wares, usually selling nothing but doing it with great dignity. I’m amazed at the tolerance of the cafe owners as well; I’ve yet to witness one losing his temper and throwing a tat-seller out. 

Today, however, I swear I saw one of the sellers being harangued because he was selling Spanish flags and not Galician ones. A little over the top!! 

On Wednesday after the Italian conversation session in the Cafetería Rosa Negra we continued chatting with our Italian friend and got onto the state of people like himself who have no fixed contract in this troubled time. As summer comes on and language school courses and community activities (he also teaches a sort of yoga/exercise class) come to an end, his income practically disappears. He will receive some benefit payments but less than might be expected from the amount of work he’s been doing. This is because at least one of the schools he has worked for over the last year or so have fiddled their books. He has been paid cash in hand for some of his teaching, allowing him (and the school) to pay less tax but qualifying him for less in benefits. This is what happens when you play the system. 

To add to his woes, he is also suffering in Italy. There he owns a small house (he hastened to assure us that it is VERY small) which he rents out. Now, because he is officially resident in Spain his house in Italy counts as his second home and so he pays a higher rate of the Italian equivalent of council tax. However, his tenant has become unemployed and declared herself unable to pay the rent, throwing herself on the mercy of the courts to prevent herself from being thrown out. And the courts have decided that she can stay in the house for another three months (at least) rent-free while she looks for work. So my Italian friend loses out both ways and risks being thrown out of his flat here. 

Out and about on the streets, I’m still seeing the homeless and unemployed with their cardboard begging notices. There’s a chap who every morning tidies up the bench he sleeps on up in the Castro Park, puts his stuff in his backpack and goes on his way. A different class from those you see curled on a bench in the centre of town with their carton red wine next to them. 

And then, again this morning, I was approached by someone asking if I knew where it is they give away clothing. Just as I expressed my ignorance a friend of hers arrived and told her place isn’t open on a Friday. It turns out to be more or less next door to our building and it’s connected to the church up on the bigger road at the top of the slope. 

Well, our street is called María Auxiliadora, after all, so I suppose it’s appropriate that there should be somewhere helping the poor around here.

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