Sunday, 30 March 2014

Vigo, end of March 2014.

There appear to be fewer beggars outside our local supermarket but maybe I’ve just not been at the right time since we got back. On the other hand, on Friday morning I was very disturbed to see someone apparently selling in the entrance hall to our block of flats. And I don’t mean the outer doorway, where the lock has been broken ever since we moved in – not our doing, I hasten to add. No, this was the inner large hallway where you have to unlock the door to get in. I had set off early(ish) to run round the block and end up at the baker’s shop. I say early(ish) but it must have been around nine. As I walked through I noticed a sort of bundle in the alcove next to the cleaners’ room: a sleeping homeless man by the looks of things. 

I’m afraid I took the coward’s way out and walked past and out of the door. I was on my own and was not going to confront anyone without back-up. By the time I got back there was no sign of him, just a couple of empty milk cartons (at least they weren’t empty wine cartons) on the shelf of the alcove. Either he had gone of his own accord or some braver soul had moved him on. The disturbing thing is that someone must have let him in. Unless, of course, he actually lives here but his wife has changed the lock on the flat door. Always a possibility but not very likely. Maybe he just tried ringing doorbells until someone buzzed the door open. (Note to self: never open the door for anyone but the postman or similar with ID.) It could be that he knew that, Friday being a día festivo, there would be no cleaning lady to disturb him and most people would not be up early! 

Friday was a día festivo because it was the anniversary of the “Reconquista”, back in the time of the Peninsular Wars when they finally threw the French out of the area. It’s an occasion to dress up as soldiers and run around play-acting. Speeches are made from the balcony in Puerta del Sol and a general good time is had by all. I didn’t get down to town to see it this year but I don’t suppose it’s very different from the last time I witnessed it. 

I did walk into town later to use the free wifi at the Nuevo Derby cafetería. En route I checked out the progress on the new railway station: slow and uninspiring but still attracting lots of people, mostly men, to admire the work. The new pavements they were doing on a section of our street seem to have been completed nicely, with a smart new children’s playground as well. The mini roundabout now sports what appears to be a large model of a lighthouse. I wonder of it lights up at night. 

In the other direction the block of flats that they completed last year seems to remain unoccupied. This is not really surprising. I read that at the end of 2013 there were 557,450 unoccupied dwellings in Spain. In Galicia alone there are 28,249. Largely this is because young people cannot afford to buy their own place or even, in many cases, to rent a flat. It’s a crazy situation but no-one seems willing to reduce rents and so young people move back home to live with their parents. 

It makes you glad not to be a young person. 

Correction. Late morning yesterday I popped out to the supermarket next door. Our regular beggar girl was there, offering in wheedling tones to help with bags of shopping and telling us that God blesses us all. Nothing changes!

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