Strolling out yesterday evening to meet Phil after his "training" session at the chess club, I was just getting into the Calvario district of Vigo when a cheerful voice greeted me, someone clearly pleased to see me. I looked round. "!Hola, señora! Me alegro de verle." The little beggar girl from the supermarket. I say little, meaning physically small. She is old enough to have an almost seven year old son, even though she looks about 15 and is not much more than a head taller than her offspring.
She chatted to me quite pleasantly, in perfectly normal Spanish, introducing me to her rather podgy offspring. Then suddenly, as if she had just remembered her role as "Soy-muy-pobre", her voice changed into the begging whine and she told me how she has no money to feed her child. Not even enough to keep him properly clean. "Mire su pelo, Ni tengo para lavarlo," she told me - look at his hair, I can't even wash it for him! I had to give her some small change just to get rid of her. No wonder she is pleased to see me!
As I already mentioned, her son did not appear to be underfed. Perhaps he has succumbed to the obesity problems caused by poor diet. What happened to the romantically skinny and big-eyed gipsy children I saw begging when I first came out Spain in the late sixties?
Then there are the parking beggars, the men who direct drivers to parking spaces they can we perfectly well and which they have to pay for anyway. These men ask for payment for this is invaluable service. Several time recently we have seen a group of then string together having a chat. Maybe there is a parking beggars union!
Seriously though, there is something wrong when people in a first world country in the 21st century are still begging on the streets.
Today we woke up to fog. Someone had clearly stolen the whole city, the estuary, everything. By lunchtime the sun had burnt most of it off, although there was still a roll of low mist on the water as we walked into town to meet friends for lunch. At lunch we came upon the linguistic problem of "patatas fritas" once more.
On the menu at the restaurant was "merluza a la gallega" - hake Galician style, in other words with boiled potatoes. So we asked if we could have chips instead of boiled potatoes. No problem. Except that the fish, very fresh and very tasty, came with freshly cooked, home-made crisps. This is because "patatas fritas" serves for both these items.
Among other linguistic oddities spotted today is a tendency to run words together. There is a shop near the Carrefour supermarket which calls itself "yoloreparo.com". This should be "yo lo reparo" - I mend it. The shop offered to fix a range of electrical items. And then I saw an advert for a cheap tent on sale at Decathlon. The advert offered "todolopocoquenecesitas" or "todo lo poco que necesitas" - the very small amount that you need. In this case, it was a two man tent for less than €10. A bargain, I should think.
Language is odd! But interesting!