Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Ways of seeing things.

There have been two cruise boats in port today. One had already arrived when I first looked out and the second was just making its way into the harbour. Do the pilots of these craft ever suffer from the equivalent of road rage, ocean rage I suppose you could call it, when they reach a port of call only to find that another boat has taken their parking spot? 

I watched it slowly manoeuvre itself into the dock. It was rather like watching someone parallel park, except that the vehicle being parked was as large as several buildings put together. Of course, the pilots cannot do what many drivers seem to do around here, gently bump the car behind them or in front of them to make just a fraction more room for themselves. I imagine a cruise boat doing that and one or both of them gently turning turtle and slipping under the water. 

 Even after years of coming here, I remain amazed at the parking habits. It's not just the inconsiderate bumping, which probably explains why so many cars have dents and scratches. There's the closeness of parking. How frustrating must it be to go to your car and find that you simply cannot get it out of the parking spot because the cars in front and behind yours have left only centimetres between your bumper and theirs. 

And the places people park! Anyone who has grown up with English zebra crossings is infuriated to find not just cars parked right next to the pedestrian crossing, because the indications are that you can legally park there, but actually ON the crossing itself on occasion. 

Don't even get me started on corners and roundabouts! Back in the UK we had a lengthy kerfuffle with the local council because of changes to the parking outside our row of houses. New houses had been built behind ours and what had been an unimportant driveway was now becoming a road into the new development. Therefore parking outside our row was deemed dangerous because it could impede visibility for traffic coming out of the side road. Here, they don't just park close to the corner. They park ON the corner. Sometimes they double park on the corner. In fact they also park on roundabouts in some parts of town. 

In a way, I suppose, it's the road-users' equivalent of the pedestrians who just stop where they feel like it for a bit of a chat, seemingly unaware that there are other people on the pavement. This certainly explains the phenomenon of stopping your car in a queue of traffic to let someone out, after a long series of kisses goodbye and all the rest of the farewell process, or to wait for someone coming out of the supermarket. You turn on the hazard warning lights to indicate that you are not really there. This is clearly what indicators are for as I rarely see them used for anything so simple as to show your intention to turn left or right. 

It's just a different way of looking at life, I suppose. And possibly a throw-back to an earlier time. When there were fewer cars around, it didn't matter so much where you parked or if you indicated. 

You see it in other areas of life as well. I still see shoppers leaving the supermarket with their trolleys loaded with bottles of water. Come to that, I still see people filling bottles of water from the tap in the wall down by the Carrefour roundabout. My guess is that this was once the local water source before all the houses had a water supply. You see a lot of these old springs all over the place. Maybe some people prefer the taste of it. You also see the old communal washing places but you don't see many fol rushing to use them. Curious!

Now, I remember years ago having a bit of a discussion with Travel and Tourism students in the college where I worked. This was some time in the early years of the 21st century! Not so long ago then. They had been told that you could not drink the water in Spain and would not believe me when I said that this was no longer true. Yes, in the past you had needed to be careful but staying in a reputable tourist venue you really no longer needed to boil the water or buy bottles of mineral water. 

But then, I have an Italian friend who tells me that she buys mineral water to drink and to clean her teeth when she goes home to Sicily! Maybe, like the people loading their trolleys with mineral water here, she is remembering a time in her childhood when the water was unreliable. 

Or maybe, as when we visit some parts of the UK, they just don't like the taste of what comes through the taps.

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