Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Decoraciones - la última palabra

Fantastic Christmas decorations from Seattle on YouTube. Seems that someone has out done our local council.

¡Feliz Navidad!



A merry Christmas to all family and friends. For a welcome change from the normal consumerism we spent the day together making crackers for tomorrow.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Carteia



This site is quite amazing. It all started as a result of my son not being at school today and finding something to do. After a thinking session I decided to show him some history, both ancient and modern.

The modern history is the site where I work. I had heard of Carteia from another expat some time ago, but this was my first visit. I cannot recall a site with more handicaps than this one. It is hidden, no, VERY well hidden behind an oil refinery. During out time there we were the only visitors. There was no admission fee, and after a few minutes we were sorted out with a guided tour on a golf cart. The staff seemed genuinely surprised to see us. The tour guide (and administrator, workman etc.) was helpful and friendly - obviously from Andalucía but not local.

He explained that the site was first uncovered in 1927, though nothing much was done to the site until about four years ago. Because of this the site has been robbed of some items, nobody knows how many or how important.

According to our guide the site was originally Punic, but greatly extended by the Romans, and he estimates that up to 4,000 people lived there at one stage. Although clearly not on the grand scale of Rome or Mérida, I became entranced by the man's enthusiasm for the site he looks after.

Because of money constraints, only about 5% of the site has been excavated so far. Digs operate during the summer only. Uncovered so far is the temple, with a piscina at the back (see photo). The temple is partly covered by the site of a c.16th cortijo built by a Gibraltar family. They have also partly excavated the theatre on the North-East of the site, though we were not shown that. Part of the town has also been excavated and its sewers which have yielded some coins and other artifacts. A little further away is a lookout tower built by Phillip II from the Roman town walls.

I felt and mentioned to the guide that the site is like Fishbourne Roman Palace in the UK but with so much waiting the be discovered. I've entered the site on Wikimapia. You can see the ruins quite clearly - and also its appalling location!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Solo un fallecido en las carreteras andaluzas el pasado fin de semana

What shocks me about this story is that the unfortunate person was a policeman on traffic duty.

This is the second time in a fortnight that a traffic officer has been run over in Spain. The common factor between the stories seems to be that both were directing traffic through temporary diversions for other accidents. It's almost like Spanish drivers have a lemming instinct, when one accident occurs, the risk of another in the immediate vicinity skyrockets.

Please be careful out there this Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

En la sombra


Watching the man drive this combination of tractors and its 1,600 tonne load brought to mind a line from Apollo 13 where Deke Slayton mutters under his breath to Jack Sweigert "Come on rookie, park that thing!"

Más decoraciones


It seems the town hall is determined to blow all its Christmas budget on lights. This is the latest addition to appear in the plaza.
At least If the heating fails in the house I can get warm by hugging Mary or Joseph.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Esperamos todavía

The boat managed to get on the berth yesterday, but no unloading so far.

The weather has not helped. It's been rough enough to break two mooring lines.

Hopefully today we'll get the tractors underneath the tank sections.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Un gran día III



No unloading today. The boat has dropped anchor in Algeciras harbour.

Un gran día II


The buzz on the site at the moment is whether the ship will dock today or stay offshore until the wind dies down a bit.
You can see in the photo that the tanks are in sections (3 per tank) because of their physical size. Each tank when assembled will be 50% bigger than the Iberostar Hotel here in La Linea, which I've just added to Wikimapia.

Decoraciones III



There must be a few watts of power in that decoration!

Decoraciones II



Our terrace illumination for Christmas courtesy of the town council.

Decoraciones



The Christmas decoarations are up in town now. For some reason the council has seen fit to buy miles of purple rope light to put around the castle.

The blob on the right hand side of the photo is the 'Star of Bethlehem' which sits right above our house - saves having to use the terrace light to get the washing in at night.

Un gran día


The job goes well, and the project reaches a milestone today as the gas tanks arrive from Korea. They are about 1 mile offshore, so the zoom on the phone camera does not show a great deal... yet.
The concrete blocks in the foreground are where the tank sections will sit once offloaded.

El puente de la Constitución deja al menos 40 muertos en las carreteras, casi un 30% menos que en 2005

Some improvement in traffic fatalities, 30% down on the same period last year (1st ten days of December). Congratulations to the province of Albacete who managed to survive this year's puente without any fatalities, and to the region of Castilla-La Mancha in general with only four.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

DGT retira el carnet por puntos a un joven que cometió tres infracciones con su moto


Almería.- Tráfico disqualifies a youth who committed 3 offences in one day on his scooter.

ALMERÍA, (EUROPA PRESS)

The youth, identified as LMG, aged 19 becomes the first person in the province of Almería to lose his licence following the new points-based system introduced in July.
According to DGT, the youth committed three offences on the same day the new law came into force. The was spotted riding his scooter without a helmet by local police officers [worth 2 points]. The officers ordered him to stop which he failed to do [another 4 points], and he then attempted to escape by making dangerous manoevres [another 6 points].


Yesterday the youth's name was entered on the list of disqualified drivers, which bans him from driving. If he is caught driving again he faces a fine of between 301 and 1,500 euros and a further ban of two years.

Now he's lost his licence, LMG must pass a 'road re-education' course and theory test.

Since July, 213 drivers in the province have lost points from their licences.

It appears things are tougher here now than when I was a spotty youth in Portsmouth. I was hauled by the police back in 1984 for (would you believe it) seven separate offences committed at the same time! This caused no end of joking at my expense by my mates. Well, I'm older and wiser now, and big enough to admit it.

I was riding a scooter (Honda C90) back from work in the ferry port and the police fell in behind me because my rear light had failed. When they put on the blue lights I panicked and attempted to flee - pretty hopeless really on such a machine. They caught me, of course. I spent a night in Pompey nick and had to go to court. I still remember that day (the only day I've had in court). The sergeant stood to give his evidence and said "on turning on the blue light the motorcycle appeared to accelerate". Praise indeed!

The charge sheet read (if I recall rightly):
Failure to display a tail light
Failure to stop when ordered by a police officer
No MOT
No tax disc
No insurance
Theft of a tax disc (I was displaying that from a mate's bike)
I forget the other...

Total damage was 6 points on my licence and a GBP 400 fine, which took me 6 months to pay off.

Thankfully, I learnt my lesson. Let's hope LMG does the same.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Feliz cumpleaños


Eight today, I can hardly believe it. She's now had more birthdays in Spain than the UK! Hopefully many more to come.
One of the ther girl's mothers says that they can't believe she's not Spanish. I can't think of a better compliment.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

La seguridad es cosa de todos



So proclaim the posters at work.
A shame the bar owner across the road hasn't read them.

Atropellado un guardia civil y un operario cuando regulaban el tráfico en Santiago

Traffic officer run over whilst controlling traffic in Santiago

(c) EFE

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA.- A Guardia Civil traffic officer and a highways maintenance man were run over and suffered serious injuries whilst controlling traffic following an earlier accident which had resulted in no injuries.
The incident happened at 22:40 horas at km 511 on the A-6 (Madrid to Coruña) highway, in the Begonte district of Lugo province [NW Spain].
The collision happened when M.V.Q.V., aged 35, from Rábade (Lugo), who was uninjured, lost control of his vehicle an Opel Corsa (registration C-6972-AM), and ran over the officer J.V.S., aged 51, the highways maintenance man A.V.C., aged 40, both from Lugo.

It appears Tráfico (DGT) are not having a good month. This incident, on top of the second week running where accident fatalities are higher than last year - in spite of the new points-based licence system introduced in July. Perhaps a few more drivers need to be banned. So far only one driver has 'definitively' lost his licence under the new system, despite the benemérita handing out more than 200,000 points! (you get 12 per licence)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dictan sentencia contra 27 examinadores de tráfico

This story from Autopista.es I thought interesting.

Twenty-seven driving examiners have had their status revoked. The examiners union (CSI-CSIF) says that 60,000-70,000 people the examiners have certified fit to drive could have their licences revoked as a result. DGT deny this, saying that the tribunal merely disallows the examiners from instructing and that drivers already qualified have nothing to fear..

According to the CSI-CSIF, the cause of the revokation of the examiners qualification was a course they were all supposed to attend. Their spokesman, Manuel Jesús Santiago said that due to the need to recruit new examiners, DGT decided to hold the course in Barcelona. The problem has been that the training is the "exclusive competency" of the Road Training Institute which always gives its courses in Madrid (Móstoles).

It appears the tribunal agrees with the Road Training Institute (the vested interest), rather than the government (DGT). This now means even more pressure on the driver training system and more delays to driving tests - demand is running at record levels.

Perhaps I should apply to go straight for an examiner's role and skip being an instructor.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nuevos resaltos de velocidad

A fantastic idea from Denmark to control speeding.

Speed related accidents are still high in Spain and the initial reduction in fatalities from the new licensing system is starting to wear off. Time for another radar gun campaign from the Benemérita.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Día del armisticia


It's strange but my father never told me what he did during the war (WWII).
The only family connection I have to the 'Great War' was an RAMC officer.
I reached my own peace settlement yesterday with a former employer. In exchange for paying me my back salary, finiquitos and legal costs I have removed references to them from my blog.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Caos en Europa por un apagón de luz

The power outage which has been widely reported struck here too in Casares. We were without power for 2 hours on Saturday night. By previous Spanish standards this may not seem unusual, but the management of the network has improved dramatically over the last few years. This is the first power cut we've had in over six months; the last one being caused by thieves nicking copper cable from the local power station - the mind boggles at the risks some people will go to!

Normally I wouldn´t comment on this but a couple of items buried in the news make the case more interesting.

Firstly, why is it that the power network is so sentitive that shutting down a high voltage line across the Ruhr river trips the European grid over half a dozen countries depriving 10 million customers of light and heat?

Secondly, this will do no good to E.ON's bid to take over Endesa - this is exactly the sort of incident that will play into the protectionists' hands. The Spanish government has just (today) lifted the conditions it (illegally) applied to E.ON's bid. Now, all that could be overturned in a fresh round of protectionism.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Grill Argentino

For some reason this bar/restaurant no longer features on the San Roque town hall website. I tried it this lunchtime and found their menú del día perfectly adequate and reasonably priced at €8. However, that's not why I'm writing about it. While I was there other diners were enjoying what is the Grill's raison d'etre. between the two diners they polished off about 2 kilos of grilled meat including, grilled ribs, grilled chops, grilled sausages, grilled chicken, etc. All served at the table on a portable charcoal grill (No Health and Safety inspectors to be seen). The diners looked satisfied - they seemed unable to move afterwards and had to have their cigars and coffee brought to the table - somewhat unusual in Spanish bars.

Price unknown at this time, but I'm definitely going back to try the full-on menu as soon as I can. I'm also going to post this one on Wikimapia in case you want to find it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Clases de árabe

Life was normalising nicely unil tonight.

My eldest daughter's been bugging me for a while to have Arabic classes. She's acquired a Spanish-Arabic phrasebook and (mentally) devoured it. She produces the odd Chinese character as well - her favourite W.I.T.C.H. heroine is Chinese.

A while ago I got chatting to the vigilante of the local car park, and discovered he's Morroccan. He's been trying to set up Arabic classes in the town, but the council says he doesn't have enough students (he had recruited eight).

Well, tonight was the first lesson. My daughter did quite well I thought, and will probably continue. My brain is still reeling. What with meem, noon, thath and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, all written backwards with vowels that rocket skywards or crawl along the ground.

All this being taught from the book this man learnt his Arabic from in 1972. He tells me the book is now a collector's piece and worth over €20!

Thing is, I've got quite excited about it, the language is such a mental challenge, like super-difficult Sudoku, but with a purpose.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Lee las señales por favor

I loved this video from Break.com

I'm told such a feature will appear in Málaga shortly. There was some discussion on ADUK about the safety aspects. My personal variation would be to have the bollards at entrance and exit to the zone and a feature which trys to avoid hitting cars that 'run' the barriers. The car is then simply trapped in the zone and cannot escape until the fine is paid - probably involving a long walk to the police station.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Militares

This video I really like. Not your normal action stuff. Just a team having fun.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"¡Vete del aparcamiento o si no te mato!"


This is what my daughter drew this morning.

He's saying what's in the blog title which translates as "Get out of here (the car park) or I kill you!"

This cabrón is apparently not Spanish (has blond hair and speaks with a strange accent). He's showing (if not pointing) a pistol to my daughter.

She's a good storyteller? No, this happened this morning on the way to school. My daughter had the good sense to run away as fast as she could.

I'd just been reading about Jesse James' tragic case in Moss Side. We however don't live there, nor even in a big city. We live in a mountain village close to, but away from the Costa del Sol. We thought we'd left the shit that the UK's become well behind.

WE WERE WRONG.

It's almost certain the b*****d concerned was there to pick up a drug consignment to move somewhere else.

All you mu****** f*****rs who do drugs are bringing this mierda down on our kids. My nine-year-old was shaking uncontrollably when found by a neighbour.

WELL I'M NOT GOING TO KEEP QUIET. YOU F*****RS COME HERE AGAIN AND YOU'LL DISAPPEAR - MY NEIGHBOURS WILL HELP ME!

PS. The Benemérita now have a description and are on the trail - they reckon the picture and her description should be enough.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ayudame por favor - Help me please


ETRASA have let me down badly.

I ordered 4 copies of the manual "learning to drive", but have got no result.

If you have a copy, or know someone who does, please contact me by using the comments.

ETRASA me ha fallado.

Pedí 4 ejemplos del manual "Learning to drive", pero no he conseguido nada.

Si lo tiene, o conoce alguien que lo tiene, por favor ponese en contacto conmigo por los "comments"

El 75% de los agentes de tráfico que manejan los radares no tienen la formación adecuada, según la AUGC




This one from Europa Press.

The Secretary General of the Guardia Civil Association (AUGC), Miguel Perpinya, Pointed out today that 75% of traffic officers responsible for radar enforcement "have not received adequate training" and advised that a large number of the 36,000 fines from the last DGT speed control campaign could be invalidated.

At the same time he added that traffic officers saw themselves under pressure from their superiors to issue a minimum quota of fines.

Furthermore, he commented that working conditions "with an increase in accident rates" makes the traffic section one of the least attractive parts of the Guardia Civil service. Of the potential 11,000 force, only 8,000 places are filled.

For their part, the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT) challenged the Asociación Unificada de Guardias Civiles (AUGC) saying that there has been no pressure on officers to issue minimum numbers of reports and fines following the introduction of the new points-based licence.

Moreover, DGT sources indicated to Europa Press that the greater part of their budget comes from administrative and test fees, and not from fines which go directly to the Ministerio de Hacienda (Spain's chancellery).

The speeding and drink-driving campaigns have been carried out to "prick drivers' consciences more than fine them", indicated the same sources. They added that 'tickets' have reduced in the last few years and the fixed radars are always signed in advance.

Controls are carried out as an instrument of "setting an example" with the objective of "reducing offences and therefore casualties and accidents" explained DGT sources.

[Given that all the fixed sites are well signed, I'm surprised anyone gets ticketted. I have only ever seen one mobile radar trap in operation, and this was by the local police, not the GC.]


Friday, October 13, 2006

Para mis amigos en el oriente proximo


Asuming my friends' ISPs allow them to reach this.

The picture was taken in my local supermarket.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Gibraltar

At last there seems to be some concrete evidence of Spanish, Gibraltarian and UK pragmatism over the 300-year-old running sore on sovereignty.

According to the FCO press release there were four main outcomes of the series of meetings started in Feb 2005:
  1. An agreement on the use of Gibraltar airport [though only Spaniards will benefit to start with as the airport will be treated as part of Spanish airspace, so Spaniards will not have to go through border controls to fly to or from there from other Spanish airports - flight from Madrid are due to start in December]
  2. An agreement on the setting up of red and green channels [though I can't see the chavs from Gibraltar paying much attention for moving their fags]
  3. An agreement on telecomms [possibly, Spaniards will have to make an international call to reach Gibraltar]
  4. An agreement on pensions to pay the Spanish dockyard workers who lost their jobs as a result of the border closure [1969-1984 - the UK government will stump up the backlog of 4 million euro (about 6,000 euro per pensioner), starting with a first payment in April 2007 to retired workers or their families if deceased]

All this should be good news for the people who contribute to the 7 million crossings each year.

Interestingly, none of the UK versions carried the history of the border movements which have taken place, and Spain still does not recognize the current border. The orginal Utrecht treaty was rather vague, referring to the 'rock' of Gibraltar which may or may not include the isthmus connecting it to the mainland. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries the British moved their 'border' five times; in 1810 to slight the forts of Santa Barbara and San Felipe, in 1815 and 1854 following outbreaks of yellow fever to set up isolation camps, again in 1909 to construct a new border fence, and finally in 1935 to construct the runway.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Uno de cada tres agentes pedidos por la Guardia Civil se destinará a tareas de tráfico


One in three officers requested by the Guardia Civil will be destined for traffic duty.

MADRID, 29 (EUROPA PRESS)

One in three officers requested by the Guardia Civil will be destined for traffic duty, according to the director general of the Benemérita, Joan Mesquida, who will ask the government to increase the force by 1.500 of which 500 will be for the traffic group.

Mesquida declared so to Cadena Ser [radio], on being asked about complaints on the scarcity of traffic patrols on the road. According to him, the low number of officers is a problem that affects the whole corps [The Guardia Civil is a military organisation but under civilian control] and he blamed the previous [Partido Popular] government.

He stated "Surprisingly, eight years of PP government left less guardia civil than when they came to power. There were [in 1996] 72,000 guardias and in 2004, 69,000." He added, "this means having to now make an enourmous effort to recover posts at a rate of 4,000 a year, double the recruitment of previous years".

He stated that already "on the table is an approval for the cabinet to increase front-line strength by 1,500, of which 500 will be for the traffic group" and they will be for policing of the new points-based licences.

By this means deaths on the road can be reduced, Mesquida said. "[the points-based licence] is a good initiative against accidents" and he trusted that in this battle there will be seen "day by day improvements" owing to drivers taking more care and "because with time there will be more technology to allow the detection of offences".

I can report that I see a traffic patrol about once a month. Bear in mind that in the province of Málaga there are only six fixed radar traps (all on main roads) and I have yet to see a mobile radar trap anywhere in Spain.

Taking the figures above we can expect that out of the current 70,000-odd guardia civil total strength about 30,000 will be front-line, and of these about 10,000 in traffic. Divide this by the number of provinces and you get about 250 active traffic officers for the whole of Málaga province (pop. over 1,000,000) patrolling 1,379 km of road on which are approximately 500,000 vehicles.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

No es rentable comprar puntos: te lo explicamos

This story came up on the Spanish motoring press, prompted by a report from Germany.

" The entry into force of the points-based licence in Spain (1 July) has not only made the roads safer, but also given rise to a black market. Points are for sale" “Auto Motor und Sport”.

Spain is European news, because the licence is one of the most strict, and has led to a barely believable business - the buying and selling of licence points.

In other countries with a similar licence, if the driver is not identified, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for the penalty for the offence. Now when a radar trap takes a photo it only catches the vehicle, not the driver.

In Spain, the owner of the vehicle must identify the driver (Article 72.3 of the Traffic and road safety law) [aimed mainly at car hire businesses]. If not, the owner is subject to a fine of between 300 and 1,500 euro.

Therefore, it is possible to identify another driver and make them liable for the fine and loss of points. It's this which has prompted a number of Spaniards to sell their points online. Because the driving offence is 'civil' and not 'criminal', the selling of points constitutes no offence. 25% of all driving offences in Spain are speeding. It already appears that some mothers and grandmothers have stepped in to take the blame for their son or grandson's addiction to speed. After all, they don't need the licence.

This is not the only loophole in the law.

At the moment, the most expensive driving offence has been 520 euro, and also led to 6 points and loss of licence for a couple of months. The guy was booked doing 219kph by radar.

This guy also has a get-out. According to Mario Arnaldo, president of Automovilistas Europeos Asociados (AEA) , Tráfico almost never reaches the 1,500 euro fine for failure to identify the driver by doubling the original fine for the offence.

In the above example, for 219kph we would pay 1,040 euro for failure to disclose. However, there's a discount for early payment of 30% (312 euro) bringing this down to 728 euro. Furthermore, this offence carries no points penalty, nor loss of licence. In other words, each points is worth no more than 60 euro. Much more is being asked on the internet, typically 250 euro, and up to almost 3,000 PER POINT. Given that offences totalling over 200,000 points have been reported so far, that makes an average market of 50 million euro.

Moral: Don't buy points.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Memorias de una vida pasada

I found this blog today which I found interesting for a number of reasons:

I used to live in Rowlands Castle for many years, from 1969 to 1983.
I made the same commute by (then BR) from RC to Fratton from 1973 to 1979 to get to school.
Neither the rolling stock nor the level of service seem to have changed much since then.

¡Coño! Estos excavadores pueden moverse

Hot on the heels of the Audi R10 win at Le Mans, Wing Co. Andy Green gets a JCB to do over 500 kph!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Los aeropuertos españoles han operado 181 vuelos hasta las 14 horas con el Reino Unido

The security alert at UK airports has affected most flights to Spain with some airports operating only one-sixth of flights scheduled for today, so far.

The full statistics from Aena (equivalent to the CAA) are available here.

Iberia's services from Heathrow will close today at 20.00, having only managed to get 2 flights away today.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

¡Feria!

last week was feria week in Casares. Feria is the annual town party / booze-up / carnival which happens in every town and village in the country on varying dates. Spanish employment law even stipulates that every employee gets an afternoon off to go.

Casares feria was no exception to the rule - bigger and better than last year, new street decorations, more events, more food, more drink, more bands, etc.

Feria here kicked off last Thursday with a concert and local dance school. Now my girls want to do dance as well as judo. We'll see, provided they don't clash.

Friday was another band and crowning of the Feria queen. saturday was the shooting competion, horse parade and another band. Sunday was free eats for the whole town and another band.

Did I mention bands? The location for all concerts has been changed this year. They used to be at the bottom of town in the sports centre. Now they are put on top of the new car park roof, near the top of town. This means our house now has an unbroken line-of-sight (sound) to the concert stage - you can tell where this is leading. Spanish bands play from roughly 10.30pm to as long as the band or audience can stand it. In the case of Friday's band, they were still going at 7.00am Saturday when I left for work. There were at least a hundred local teenagers there trying to dance, though most were leaning against any available object and not moving very much. Spanish bands also play as loud as they possibly can - enhanced by a pile of loud speakers three metres high which prevents anyone approaching to within 5 metres of the stage.

Late July and early August is also the hottest time of the year here. It didn't drop below 25C ant any stage during the night last week, and was 30C for a couple of nights, with no appreciable wind to disperse the heat. This time of year is also breeding season for midges, gnats and mosquitos.

The windows had to be left open night and day in an effort to keep the house a bearable temperature (no air-conditioning).

Now our children are growing up. Lulu our youngest is seven, Charlotte nine and Tom is ten. They are now more Spanish than English, certainly in their behaviour. I don't recall them getting back from the feria before 2.30am any night. But then Casares is so safe we don't worry about them when they're out. One night, Tom got back at 5.00am. I guess he's growing into a Spanish teenager.

On top of that, I've been spending every available moment decorating our bathroom in advance of visitors later this month. We've had no bath or shower in the house for the last four months thanks to leaks and builders who've let us down.

Thankfully my employer is very understanding about sleep deprivation and has let me get away with arriving late the last few days.

Oh, and by the way, San Roque feria (where I work) has its feria this week. I think I'll have tomorrow afternoon off - to sleep.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tráfico controlará la velocidad de 100.000 vehículos al día en agosto

A new (anti-)speeding campaign starts in Spain next Monday (7th August) for two weeks. This sort of campaign is a regular feature on Spanish roads, so no surprises there.

The difference this year is that the Benemérita will be on 1,900 'secondary' roads this year, checking the speed of 100,000 vehicles a day with mobile radar traps. They have chosen to avoid the motorways this year as 75% of road deaths occur on non-motorway stretches. In fact Spain´s motorways are twice as safe as those in the UK on a distance travelled basis.

According to DGT statistics, 22% of all road accidents are caused by excess speed, which led to the death of almost 1,000 people last year.

DGT are also mounting a press, radio and TV campaign with the slogan "double direction - double precaution" [single carriageway roads are called 'doble sentido' here].

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

El carnet por puntos ha reducido en su primer mes la mortalidad en un 20 por ciento

The story from Europa Press quotes Minister of the Interior Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba stating that traffic deaths during July, the first full month of the points-based licence, have fallen 20%. July was the first month in many years where less than 300 people have died on Spanish roads.

The decline in road traffic deaths was least marked in Galicia, North-West Spain. Asked about this the minister said that the road network in Galicia is a 'special case'.

As a former holder of a UK licence, I can agree that wallying around on few points tends to improve behaviour. It seems the Spanish are very attached to their driving licences, and don't wish to jeopardise the freedom of movement this gives them. Not least because most have to drive to work.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Operación Malaya, la gran telenovela, capitulo tres


Julian Muñoz finally goes to jail. Photo (c) La Razon

Miguel Ángel Torres is at it again. This time he's sent Julian Muñoz to jail without bail.

Muñoz, aged 58 and partner to the singer Isabel Pantoja was arrested Wednesday night for his part in the Operation Malaya scandal, including defrauding public funds.

Remember that Muñoz was also arrested and convicted of corruption charges in 2004 and sentenced to six months jail (which he never served) and banned from public office for eight years.

After making his statement before the judge he was taken to the jail in Alhaurín de la Torre (Málaga). No bail was set.

The judge also sent to jail with out bail the ex Partida Andalucista counsellor and provincial secretary Pedro Pérez, The president of Aifos (a large construction company) Jesús Ruiz Casado, and the company's director general Jenaro Briales on charges of complicity. The financial director of Aifos, José Andrés León was released on bail of €50,000 also on charges of complicity.

The joke doing the rounds here goes like this.
"Question. Which town in Spain has the most mayors?"
"Answer. Alhaurín de la Torre!" [where the jail is - three ex-mayors in the jail and one outside]

Monday, July 17, 2006

Tráfico 17 julio

MADRID, 17 (EUROPA PRESS)

A total of 135 people lost their lives on Spanish roads during the first 16 days of July, the month in which the new points based licence was introduced. This is 27% DOWN on last year's figures.

Source, Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT).

The reduction is at the top of the Government's prediction for road deaths. They had forecast anwhere between 3% & 30% reduction.

Tráfico. Veintitrés personas mueren en accidentes de tráfico durante el fin de semana, 7 menos que en 2005

Not as good figures as last week, but still heading in the right direction.

Photo (c) EFE

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mi hijo mío

¡Típico!


It seems there is some way to go to change some drivers' attitudes here.

On a separate note, the BNG (Galician Nationalist Party) are campaigning for autopistas to waive tolls when traffic conditions dicate - there was a 10km tailback on the A-9 yesterday whilst the peaje was empty. Madrid had 33km tailbacks.

I wholeheartedly agree. If the Government was serious about traffic safety, all the peajes would be abolished to keep traffic on the (much safer) autopistas.

Yesterday, the citizen's action group in Estepona were protesting (I forget about what) which resulted in the closure of the exit from the A-7 there. This forced all the traffic down the AP-7 where they had to pay the toll at the Casares exit, me included. I have kept my receipt and will be sending it back to Autopistas del Sol for a refund, since I had no choice but to use their motorway, one of the most epensive in Europe per km. In summer to get from La Linea where I work to Málaga Airport costs the following: €2.65 at Casares, €3.70 at San Pedro and €5.50 at Calahonda, a total of €11.85 for an 80km journey (not including the unavoidable 8km stretch of A-7 at Marbella or the short strech of A-7 at Estepona). So that's €12 for a 72km motorway journey or €1 per 6 km.

Since, on average I do this journey 3-4 times a week, the return journey costs up to €100 a week, €400 a month. Is this the price of safety?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Señales verticales: 2

Just in case I'm in danger of taking myself too seriously.

This wonderful sign comes from the Exeter area in the UK.

Señales verticales

This reminds me of a story about two ladies who are amongst the longest-serving? expats in the Estepona area. They arrived there in 1970.

To protect their identity I won't reveal what they do, but they are well known in the area.

They are unique, as far as I know, in that they are the only expats ever to have had their burro towed away after illegally parking it.

El Nuevo permiso por puntos: 3

Since it's my job to know the Spanish traffis law I thought I'd point out the error in my previous post on this subject.

Fines for traffic offences are in the following ranges:
For leves: up to €90
For graves (serious): €91 - €300
For muy graves (very serious): €301 - €600,
AND (Article 67.2 refers) for the following muy graves: €301 - €1500
  1. Failure to identify the driver of the vehicle where an offence has been committed.
  2. Driving without a licence
  3. Driving an unregistered vehicle or failure to comply with the administrative requirements.
  4. Failure to comply with driving school requirements
  5. Failure to comply with driver re-education requirements
  6. Failure to comply with the requirements on industrial activities re road safety

All those expats in non-MOT'd UK reg cars may well fall foul to no. 3 above. Even if it has an MOT, if it has been driven for more than 6 months in Spain you could be done under that clause.

¿Estan tontos o que?

As Victor Meldrew would say....

This PC gem comes from the UK Department for Transport.

Personally, I would use my ears!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tráfico.- Un total de 27 personas fallecen en las carreteras en el segundo fin de semana de julio, 17 menos que en 2005

MADRID, 10 (EUROPA PRESS)

A Total of 27 people died on Spanish roads this last weekend in July, 17 less than at the same time last year, when 44 died - the worst weekend in 2005 according to DGT (tráfico).

During the whole week (3-9 July) there were 51 fatalities.

What cannot be determined at this stage is why the figures are (thankfully) much lower this year. Possibly the new driving licence system. Possibly increased Guardia Civil presence on the roads. Possibly less traffic density.

Given that on average, someone died on Spanish roads every 90 minutes last year, any improvement is welcome.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Tráfico rebaja de 140 a 132 kilómetros por hora el margen de tolerancia del radar.

This story came up on my RSS today.

DGT (Tráfico) is to revise downwards the tolerances on radar traps in Spain. Until now the 'trip' speed on autopistas (motorways) and autovías (highways) has been set at 140kph. This is to be reduced to 132kph [no effective date given - perhaps today]. The limit allows for a 5% margin of error in speedometers and 5% for the speed camera radar. Speed in excess of 132kph will be punished by a fine of €120, but no points endorsment of the driver's licence.

The revised tolerance limits will be as follows:-
  • autopistas (motorways) and autovías (highways) - 132kph
  • conventional roads with a minimum 1.5m hard shoulder or multicarriageway - 110kph
  • Other roads outside populated areas - 99kph
  • Towns - 55kph

The above limits only apply to cars and motorcycles. Other vehicles have their speed limits adjusted accordingly. e.g. a car with trailer is only allowed to travel at 70kph on a 90kph road above and the tolerance for rader will now be 77kph for that type of vehicle on that type of road.

Footnote: Until 2005, Spain had a total of 250 fixed radar traps. The 2005 traffic plan calls for the installation of 250 more to make a total of 500. Some of these have already been installed. Under the constitution, the location of these radar traps must be made publicly available. Their location can be found on the DGT website here.

There are also a number of mobile units operated by the Guardia Civil. The cars carrying them are normally unmarked larger saloon cars such as Renault Laguna, Opel Vectra, or the Nissan Primera (pictured above) etc. - i.e. not easy to spot. There are commercial services which advertise the location of these mobile units, such as Inforadar. This is not illegal since the service does not rely on the use of radar detection equipment.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Anatomía del accidente

As I mentioned recently, the level of accidents involving HGVs in Spain is much higher than other EU countries. The following accident occurred on the A-7 highway at san Roque, km 118.

Picture 1:

The truck in the background has just hit a car from behind. The cloud of dust he threw up indicates that he did not see the traffic queue in front of him in time, and that he was going too fast.

I estimated his speed to be 100kph+ as he came round the bend and saw the slow-moving traffic just 100m in front of him - giving him 3.6 seconds to react and stop 26 tonnes of truck. He covered at least 25m (0.9s) before applying the brakes. Being unladen, the rear wheels immediately locked.

Picture 2:

That was an Opel Astra. The occupants (hidden behind the van) have been evacuated to the side of the road and are in a state of shock, and probably suffering whiplash injuries.

Note that the truck has finished in a position in front of the car it hit. It appears that the car was pushed out towards the right hand lane and then drifted back into the left hand lane after impact and the truck had passed.

The car is an insurance write-off. The rear crumple zone did its job, but the car is a foot shorter.

Picture 3:

Truck with extra ornament.

Further on down the road was the cause of the traffic queue - workmen were cutting vegetation on the central reservation and had coned off the left hand lane only up to 10m from where they were working, and with no advance warning signs WHATSOEVER. This despite the fact that they were working on one of the busiest roads in Southern Spain during peak traffic (just before 10:00).

Two pieces of advice:

1. Road works and maintenance are frequently very poorly signed and with very little advance warning. ALWAYS maintain your safety zone. You MUST be able to stop in the distance you can see.

2. Inevitably you have to share the road with HGVs. Give them as wide a berth as possible, and if caught in slow-moving traffic, keep well over to one side of the road to allow passing space if the above scenario should happen.

El Nuevo permiso por puntos: 2

I found this graphical illustration on the El Mundo website. Although it's in Spanish only, you get the idea of the offences and penalties very easily. Brilliant graphics.

It is relevant to any driver on an EU licence, since although your licence cannot be endorsed at the time, details are sent to your licence issuing authority and will be noted when you come to renew your licence. You will still be fined and these now go up to €600 for 'very serious' offences.

Monday, July 03, 2006

La Kordoniz

La Kordoniz celebrates its first birthday.

I picked out this one as you don´t need to be a Spanish speaker to appreciate the humour.

(c) Josetxu Rodríguez, de "Caduca Hoy", Diario Deia

Las Noticias de tráfico

The first part of the story is encouraging.

From CanariasAhora.com 2 July

15 people die on the first weekend of the summer holidays. Although this is ten less than the same weekend last year when 25 people lost their lives on Spanish roads. It appears that the high number of drivers having points deducted from their licences has had a deterrent effect this year.

In Cataluña the Mossos d'Esquadra have deducted 1,861 points from drivers licences in the first 24 hours of the new regime. This involved 514 reports and four drivers have lost their licences. One of these lost a total of 16 points (he, like all other drivers started with 12 points) for incorrect manoevres, excess alcohol, not wearing a seatbelt and driving without a licence.

In Galicia yesterday, a total of 234 drivers (only 11 women) lost a total of 863 points, mainly for excess alcohol.

In Asturias 61 drivers lost a total of 250 points and excess alcohol was gain the principal cause (opver 50%).

In Cuidad Real a total of 26 drivers, all male, six of whom were under 25 lost a total of 112 points, again excess alcohol the principal cause.

If I seem to be harping on about the subject, I make no apologies. If the little extra publicity from this blog helps in some way to make the Spanish come to terms with the stupidity shown by such large numbers of drivers, and this in turn helps to save lives, then it's worth making myself unpopular.

Just remember for every drunk driver caught, there are probably another 100 out there who didn't get caught this time. In other words there were probably over 50,000 drunk drivers out there on Spanish roads this weekend!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Tráfico

This story shows why the licensing system had to change in Spain.

Madrid, 1 July, Europa Press

A total of 263 people died in the 235 recorded accidents on Spanish roads this June; 17 less than the same month last year. For the first half of the year 1,337 fatal accidents occurred in which 1,523 people died [104 alone in one week - Semana Santa], though this is 56 less than the first half of 2005.

The press is very busy at the moment with speculation on how much the points-based licence will reduce accidents; estimates vary between a 3% and 20% reduction in fatalities. Time will tell.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sabia que va a pasar

This story comes as no surprise. I was surprised it took just four hours into the new licensing scheme!

Seville, 1 July, Europa Press

A youth from the Luisiana district of Seville is likely to be the first driver in Spain to lose all twelve points on his driving licence (the points system came into force at midnight 1 July). The Guardia Civil have recommended he lose all points following his arrest at 04:00 this morning for various offences.

The accused was drivng on the A-4 in Écija in a zig-zag fashion, for which reason officers of the Benemérita stopped him, as this constituted 'dangerous driving'. According to the official report, the officers saw obvious signs of drunkenness and asked the driver to give a breath test, which the youth refused.

Under the new rules, the officers asked the provincial traffic department to take away all the drivers points (12); six for dangerous driving and the rest for refusing a breath test.

Let's hope he gets the maximum penalty and the maximum publicity - there are too many idiots like him on Spanish roads.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Operación Malaya, la gran telenovela, capitulo dos

Judge Torres is being a very busy man again. More arrests reported in Sur in English today. Also the Spanish wires are buzzing this morning (too late for the Sur press) as the Aifos construction group offices in Málaga are raided. The new management committee appears to be having trouble as well with multiple members resigning their other jobs over 'incompatible interests' to continue on the committee - the latest here (in Spanish). And finally, the Construction companies as well are complaining of 'extorsion' from council planners (again in Spanish - it's been a busy day).

I´m sure this soap is going to have a long run.

VI MERCADILLO MEDIEVAL

The Medaeval Market is on again this year. Now that the old church in the castle grounds is mostly restored I hope it will be there this year. Last year it was moved to the lower plaza, which did not mix well with the car traffic.

The town is still largely cut-off by road; the main road into town is dug up for improvements. My route out of town has to be up calle Monte, aptly named ;-) and not for the faint-hearted driver! When I've figured out how to post video, I'll include my drive up the street.

Wikimapia

I find this really cool. See panel on left. More will appear as I get round to them.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mil gracias

Sitemeter now tells me I have reached 1,000 visitors. Thanks to you all.

I intend to do some redesign shortly, in line with where the blog is heading - more driving and road safety.

Permiso por puntos: lo único que cambia es que hay más seguridad.

This is the title of the little missive that dropped on my doormat the other day from DGT - 'trafico'. I suspect that the only change will be more revenue for trafico until there are enough drivers wallying around on 2 points. Maybe then the message will get home.

Per capita Spain is not that bad and safer than Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and the new Eastern members. However thet have the worst record in Europe for HGV-related accidents, so stay well away from trucks.

The full information is available from the trafico website in Spanish at:- http://www.dgt.es/indices/dgtHtm_Portada_es.html or www.permisoporpuntos.es

The english synopsis:-

The system will only apply to those on Spanish licences. The word on the street from trafico is that offences committed by those on non-spanish licences will be punished more severely - On the spot fines will go up and there will be more confiscations of cars.

Drivers will be allocated 12 points. New drivers will get 8 points for the first three years. This will also apply to those who are issued a new licence following revocation of a previous licence. Drivers who have no endorsements after three years will get a further two points to make 14. After a further three clean years they get another point to make 15. This is not to be confused with the winning ONCE number.

Points are deducted as follows:

2 points for minor offences such as:
- Stopping or parking in unsafe places such as bends, crests, tunnels or poses a risk to pedestrians.
- Stopping or parking in bus lanes.
- Use of radar detectors.
- Driving without lights when required.
- Carrying children under the age of 12 on scooters or motorcycles except where allowed by the law.
- Speeding 20-30kph over the limit [Did you know that you are allowed to exceed the speed limit by up to 20kph to overtake - this is why all spaniards drive at 140kph on the motorway - "¡Pero agente, sólo estaba adelantandole!"

3 points for more serious offences such as:
- Driving without a seat belt or riding without a helmet.
- Performing U-turns except where permitted - did you know you ARE allowed to do a U-turn at a junction if not signed otherwise?
- Driving whilst using any mobile telephone or accessory, except where allowed by law.
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front.
- Speeding 30-40kph over the limit.

4 points for serious offences such as:
- Driving on motorways (autopistas) or highways (autovías) in/on a prohibited vehicle (e.g. scooter)
- Exceeding the passenger capaity of the vehicle by 50% or more - i.e. 6 or more passengers in a vehicle with 4 passenger seats.
- driving a vehicle without the proper licence.
- dropping litter on the road or roadside with might cause a fire or accident - no fag butts.
- negligent driving which creates a risk to other road users.
- Speeding 40 or more kph over the limit, but not more than 50%.
- Ignoring give way or stop signs, jumping traffic lights.
- failing to observe the rules for overtaking, putting at risk or holding up oncoming traffic, or overtaking in places or circumstances where visibility is reduced.
- reversing on a motorway or highway.
- Ignoring signals from a traffic cop.
- Accelerating or performing manoevres which prevent or impede being overtaken.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol where a breath test shows more than 0.25mg/l and less than 0.5mg/l (0.15mg/l to 0.3mg/l for professional drivers).

6 points for very serious offences such as:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol where a breath test shows more than 0.5mg/l (0.3mg/l for professional drivers).
- Driving under the influence of drugs or similar substances [vindaloo anybody?].
- Driving in an aggresive manner, the wrong direction, or racing or competing without authorisation.
- Failure to take a blood or drug test.
- Speeding 50% and 30kph or more over the limit.
- For professionals only (that's me), exceeding driving hours by more than 50% or taking less than 50% of rest time [I'll remember that one for work].

Once all 12 points are lost, so is the licence. It can be recovered, but only after attending a course and passing a test. A licence can be revoked for any serious or very serious offence, regardless of the number of points left on the licence. See also new drivers, above. Points lost from a licence if not disqualified , up to a maximum of 4 points, can also be recovered by attending a course. This can be done up to a maximum of once every two years. The cost of the course to recover points is €170 and lasts 12 hours, and for recovery of licence is €320 and lasts 24 hours.

The time taken to recover the licence after disqualification is 6 months for the first time, 12 months thereafter (3 months & 6 months for professionals).

Points are not lost at the time of the offence, only when reported. This allows drivers to voluntarily go on a course to avoid loss of points, but this must be done within one month and the outcome of the course must satisfy trafico.

I see ALL of the above behaviours EVERY day. We'll just have to wait and see if the rules change driving behaviour. I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Que pudiera ser yo

I found this little link the other day whilst looking for the Spanish version of the UK-based IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). I find it relevant since the exact same scenario occured when I approached a roundabout and had to brake sharply for (yet another) suicidal motorist who doesn't know where his indicators, mirrors or brakes are.

The interest to me was that the front tyres were new and the road conditions apparently very good, being dry and sunny with an ambient temperature of over 30 degrees C. Nonetheless, on braking, my car slewed sideways as I had already started to turn into the roundabout. Thankfully, the braking distance was so short I was able to stop before the give way lines on the roundabout.

Oh, and by the way, there is no equivalent to the IAM in Spain - ¡que sorpresa!

Friday, June 16, 2006

El tiempo compartido

Just so you know the official Spanish view on timeshare:

(EUROPA PRESS)

Malaga.- The Costa del Sol has 92 timeshare developments which represents 28,1% of the national total, according to information released by consultants Ragatz, presented by the president of the Spanish branch of the European Timeshare Organisation (OTE), Carlos Vogeler.

Of the 327 developments situated en Spain, 140 are in the Canary Islands, 33 in the Balearics and the remaining 62 developments on the western coast (Costa del Sol). The Costa del Sol and the Canaries account for 71% of all these developments in Spain.

On the Costa del Sol, around 210.000 families are owners of timeshare developments and the average price of a week in these developments is 12,100 euros compared to 8,600 euros in the Canaries and 12,000 euros on average for the rest of Spain.

Vogaler highlighted today in Malaga that the timeshare model works “perfectly” in the US and Mexico and “very well” in Spain, although in Spain there is still “a very negative perception by the general public”.

He pointed out that timeshare “is no more than a form of hotel marketing with a more sophisticated tourism product”, in which “there have been frauds but much less than in other sectors [see la gran telenovela] and recently not much has been reported”, he also pointed out that “there are few products in which the consumer has the level of protection found in timeshare”. [NB: very careful choice of words - does not say that the level of protection is good or bad].

Vogaler clarified that timeshare “is in no way a form of property investment”. “The buyer of this product has to understand that they are not buying bricks and mortar, just a type of tourist services”.

For him, it is “important to realise that for the buyer’s part that at the time of buying that their expectations at the time of resale will not be in line with property speculation regarding increase in value”.

He insisted that “those that invest in timeshare are investing in their future holidays, when the time comes to resell, it can be sold like any other product, but in no way is it going to have any benefit or increase in value, save that the market may rise (or fall) as demand changes”.

He equivocado

The last post got its knickers in a twist over the date and lost the photo.

It was actually posted yesterday (15th June).

My new job looks like it will have a future, even though it's a fixed term contract to 2008. The reason for this is that I'm now training to be a driving instructor here in Spain.

I note from EuroRAP that the junction I use off the A-7 every day is the most dangerous in southern Spain (and the 6th most dangerous in the whole of Spain). It took a while to realise that one because:-

a) The diputación has changed the road name from the N-351 to the CA-34. You can find it on Km 118 (westbound) to 119 (eastbound) on the A-7.
b) The really dangerous part of the junction is the exit from San Roque to get onto the 'flyabout'. You start from a standstill and have to get across 3 lanes of fast-moving traffic directly to the other side - there are no lights on the junction, just slip-roads. This I discovered yesterday.

At least I don´t live in Galicia!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Última llamada

Six weeks without a post. What happened?

A change of job. I've finally got out of TV because it didn´t pay. I had to take the company to court to recover two months back pay, and they're still behind. So I've said goodbye to managing the camera store and fetching the boss's coffee.

Now I'm working as a driver for a large engineering multinational. One of the few large industrial projects in the area. From where I work you can almost spit on the Rock (I try from time to time).

Want to see where I now work. Try Google Earth and look up 36deg 10min 9.33sec North by 5deg 22min 30.26sec West. It's gonna be big! It's gonna float!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Site Meter

Site Meter tells me I've reached my first milestone: 500 visits. Thanks to all of you out there reading this.

Reciclaje por internet

fuengiclaje : fuengiclaje

I'd like to thank Annina for the reference to Freecycle. There is a group in Fuengirola down (up?) the coast from me. I joined, posted my gift (a printer) and got an enquiry all in the space of half-an-hour!

Operación Malaya, la gran telenovela.

This scandal has been better covered in the press online, for example Sur in English (also here) and on other blogs, e.g.: Euroresidentes and Expatica.

The latest twist to the tale I just picked up on the Yahoo newswire from Europa Press (in Spanish).

Málaga.- Police travel to Málaga to examine the animals seized in
operation 'Malaya'.

MÁLAGA, 19 (EUROPA PRESS)

National police from the cavalry section have travelled to Málaga to examine
the animals seized at a finca close to Marbella as part of operation 'Malaya'. The team comprises two inpectors from the cavalry and a vet from the national police. Once examined a request will be made to the investigating judge in Marbella for the horses to be delivered to the police stables, for their later use by the various cavalry units. 103 animals have been seized, 41 male, 54 female and eight young foals according to the police report.

LATEST ARREST
As part of operation 'Malaya' J.B.B.G. was arrested. He is considered to be one of the testaferros (front men) working for the building adviser to Marbella council, and presumed brains of the corruption scandal, Juan Antonio Roca. The arrested man ran two of the principal front companies for Roca, operating in Murcia and comprised of various real estate agencies. JBBG was released yesterday without bail but charged with money laundering. he will later make a declaration before the instructing judge according to sources close to the case. The detained man, aged 29 and from Madrid (though it appears he lives in Málaga province) turned himself in yesterday once he knew the police were looking for him, the same sources confirmed to Europa Press. The sources also confirmed that he made a statement [to the police] about his management of one of the front companies that he supposedly ran for Roca.

This brings the total arrests in the anti-corruption operation to 26. Of these 12 are remanded in prison while the rest are on bail. Those in jail are: the mayor of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe; the deputy mayor, Isabel García Marcos; the buildings department chief, Juan Antonio Roca; traffic and transport counsellor, Victoriano Rodríguez; businessmen Ismael Pérez Peña and Oscar Benavente Pérez; another presumed testaferro Montserrat Corulla; four lawyers from the office of Sánchez Zubizarreta & Soriano, in Madrid, and the industrialist Ll.
On bail are: the Marbella counsellor for culture, José Jaén, freed on 30.000 euros bail by judge Miguel Angel Torres; also the businessmen José Luis Alonso Boyer and
Julio de Marco, on bail of 20.000 and 12.000 euros, respectively. Others bailed are legal adviser Francisco S.Z., on 90,000 euros bail; 30.000 euros for Miguel P.C. and 20.000 euros for the Marbella police chief, Rafael del Pozo [on charges of perjury and possessing illegal firearms, who is also alleged by the press to have been having an affair with Sra Yagüe.
Charged, but freed without bail being set are: businessman Juan Miguel Saavedra (charged with being an accomplice and influence peddling) and council secretary Leopoldo Barrantes [charges not specified].
Similarly judge Torres freed on bail (charged with money laundering) the presumed testaferros Jaime Hachuel, José Luis Benavente Pérez, Salvador Gardoqui, María Ursula Q.L. and Ernesto Ramón Celdrán.

Assets seized in the operation so far amount to 2,400,000,000 euros (yes, 2.4 billion). Marbella council is crippled by debt, owing 14,000,000 euros in unpaid social security payments for their employees alone. Last month, rubbish collection in Marbella was temporarily suspended when Casares council who own the waste processing plant refused waste from Marbella pending payment of 800,000 euros for waste disposal charges. The waste plant was built in Casares in the early 90's when Casares was run by the GIL party, founded by Jesus Gil y Gil, former mayor of Marbella.

Julian Muñoz, who succeeded Gil y Gil (also from the GIL party) was ousted by Marisol Yagüe. Muñoz was convicted of corruption. He was sentenced to six months prison and banned from public office for eight years.

Pedro Tirado, former mayor of Manilva (GIL party again) is on bail, also charged with corruption relating to the 'ballena blanca' (white whale) money laundering operation. It is likely that his arrest and evidence gained from his office led to operation 'Malaya'.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

El Spanglish II

Following my last post I have tracked down the Spanish equivalent to the French Academie Francaise; it's called La Real Academia Española. I imagine it has a lot to say on the modern use (especially by mobile phone users) of Spanish. You can find some good examples of cartoons with modern language use at sites like "La Kodorniz" where que becomes ke etc.

The Real Academia Española has the dictionary online, so if you hear a new word you can look it up. Of course all the explanations are in Spanish! I'm still trying to decipher chiflar.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

El Ninja

If this guy's not signed by a studio he damn well ought to be!

Semana santa II

The Spanish Cockpit has more. Last time I saw the procession in Manilva, there was lots of besapies going on. The locals flocked from their houses by the dozens to kiss His feet.

Semana santa

Notes from Spain ... Lucky enough to be in Andalucia this Easter?

This has saved me much time in trying to explain the biggest holiday in Spain. The guys in the KKK outfits I can't see locally, seems they're all in Málaga or Seville.

Monday, April 10, 2006

¿Antonio Banderas se convierte en Islamista?


Sur Digital - Diario de Málaga, noticias, actualidad y Últimas noticias de Málaga

What's this? Antonio Banderas puts on a burka?

No folks, it's the annual Easter parades. Well worth a look if you can spare the time. Málaga and Seville are highly recommended.

Monday, March 27, 2006

El Spanglish


I´d thought that the Spanish have a perfectly good word for the little dump trucks that ferry building materials, furniture and occasionally shopping up the steep streets here. El vertedor seems appropriate, unless it means the guy doing the dumping. Perhaps Spain´s equivalent of the Academie Francaise has something to say on the subject. When I looked it up in the dictionary I found dúmper! Casareños say something like dúpe.

Parque de los lobos



Quite a find this. "Lobo Park" is 170km from us and we had to navigate through Antequera to get there.

The park is run by a German couple and now houses Iberian, Timber, European (Russian) and Polar wolves. They are impressive creatures and clearly very intelligent.

The wolves are not truly wild, having been raised in the park, so they are "socialised" with the keeper. They do seem to have a good life though. They even sing with the keeper!

Well worth a visit if you´re looking for something different.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Eso es porque nosotros no respetamos a la iglesia


BBC NEWS Wales Church recalls 'Prophet' magazine shows why I have little respect for the church. Not only is the cartoon referred to not part of the "cartoon war" images, it was also very even-handed in its lampooning of all religions. For that reason the editor might have resigned, but no, it appears that because one religious community might take offense, then the editor had to go.

Don't these people realise that the cartoons in whatever form are part of the great tradition of caricature, which has always made those in power feel uncomfortable. I still remember Steve Bell's excellent "Animal Farm" series from the 1980's.

Here in Casares, most people don't have respect for religion for much better reasons. Two specific incidents in fact.

During the Civil War, Republican irregulars (mostly local people) took control of Casares. Franco's insurgent forces were sent to take Casares back. After a brief siege of the castle, the republicans took refuge in the church asking for sanctuary. The priest denied them this and kicked them out to face certain death at the hands of the insurgent forces. The 44 Casareños were taken out and shot not far from the town and buried in a shallow grave.

If that were not enough, one of those rounded up by the insurgent forces (Morrocan 'legionaires') was a young girl of just 18. The troops gang-raped her in front of the local people and then were about to take her away to be shot. One of my neighbours, then just 17 asked the priest to intervene to save her life. The priest replied that since she had just been raped, her soul was damned so it would be better for her to be shot - which is what happened.

Small wonder my neighbour has never set foot inside the church since.

A memorial to those Casareños has only in the last six months been put up - the wounds and divisions still go deep. There were huge arguments as to whether a monument should be allowed at all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Recordamos las fechas

March is now for me an emotional month.

The 10th would be my grandma's birthday - she'd be 103. I still miss her, I can still see her face. Always smiling, never angry. Always appreciative of the small help I lent her in the garden or round the house. She always cooked a meal for me when I came to visit. I still remember my accident with her pressure cooker - spraying the ceiling with raspberry jam. That was the closest she came to being angry. She looked disapprovingly at the mess, though seemed more concerned that she'd have to make another batch. I repainted the ceiling of course. That was more than 20 years ago. I don't even have a photo of her.

The 11th, two years ago. I was renting a house in Manilva and came back from work to find our landlady and her husband in shock - I hadn't heard the news. They sat down with me and calmly, matter-of-factly told me about the bombs. Suddenly my memories of the UK came flooding back. An unexpected day off work. A walk in the park with the children, feeding the ducks with them. Coming home to turn on the TV and see the WTC in flames. That 11th of March two years ago overwhelmed me and I wept in front of this Spanish couple. I need to confront this demon.

Two years on and I still find it difficult. I try to concentrate on my eldest daugher's birthday which is this week. She'll be nine and has invited all her friends - we're expecting almost all her class, about 20 kids. She fills me with joy this happy, innocent child.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

En huelga por motivas de la violencia

Our children came home from school yesterday with a note saying all the teachers in the province will be on strike tomorrow (9th March). The reason? Apparently a kid hit a teacher. Now, justified or not, why does it take a teacher to get hit for some publicity and/or action to happen?

After the last incident with our children we went to see the director of the school. He flatly denied there was any problem with violence at the school. Perhaps his tune will change now.

Friday, March 03, 2006

La canción del metro

London Underground : The Song I find hilarious. I wonder if Málaga´s will get its own version when complete?

Las costumbres alternativas

Across Syria & Inside Homs is a site I found via Kevin Sites. It gives a reasoned, moslem view of current affairs, with local issues thrown in for good measure.

If only there were a filter to exclude the 'red-neck' responses. Me?, I'm a collard, whatever that is.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Las Noticias el día de hoy.

Apologies for not posting for a while. I've been busy followed by a bad cold which I still have. Apologies in advance for any typos.

My research for the documentary goes well and I've half-a-dozen people lined up to interview, though I'd like more.

I spotted last night on the TV news (La 2) that bird flu has been found in a cat in Germany. You can read the story here. An excellent H5N1 information site can be found here.

Also spotted on the TV were more ads warning against forest fires - in March! Although the winter has been quite wet round our way, I guess it must still be very dry. Read this (rather dated) article here. and for background here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Como comprar una casa en España

A bit of time off from blogging for a while, been busy with work.

We're now a production company and not a broadcaster (the expensive bit) but the website still exists.

The upshot of all this is we're making a documentary on buying a house in Spain. Since I'm the researcher for this I need to talk to lots of people about their experiences, both good and bad.

So... If you fancy sharing your Spanish house buying experience please drop me a line. You won't be on camera unless you agree.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Revelan las viñetas falsificadas


Album: Det Islamiske Trossamfund propaganda hefte contains a copy of the booklet the Danish Imams took on their mideast tour. It also includes the forged cartoon images (pages 38-40).

Now that it has been proved that at least one is fake, will the imams be charged with inciting racial or religious hatred? Or how about causing the negligent manslaughter of the Afghan protestors?

La gripe aviria

I recently read another cat lover's blog on the possible risk to domestic cats.

I was intrigued so went to the WHO website - no information there apart from this old report. Then I found a good blog here.

A bit of hunting around turned up the two mentioned studies - here and here. The risk DOES EXIST and can easily be fatal to cats. Here in southern Spain there is a large feral cat population which would make the spread of the H5N1 virus both fast and easy in the domestic cat population.

I think I'll be keeping the cats in from now on too.

¡Guai!

Now this blog I find cool. Not just because I'm sad or mad, but because it's cool in any language - read some of the comments.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

El Comité de la sequía abre expediente sancionador a ocho municipios por no informar de su consumo


A story that seems not to have made many blogs yet. Old news? Not round here it isn't.

Andaluc�a24Horas



The Junta drought committee drought initiates sanctions investigation against eight municipalities for failing to inform them about water consumption

The Drought Management Committee has decided to initiate sanctions investigations against eight municipalities of the province of Malaga, affected by the drought decree that declares an exceptional drought situation in the capital, the Guadalhorce Valley and the Western Costa del Sol.
The municipalities that will be sanctioned are Álora, Benahavís, Casares, Coín, Istán, Manilva, Marbella and Ojén. These municipalities face fines of between 30,000 and 300,000 euros. The 18 Málaga municipalities included in the drought decree as well as the large water consumers (more than 250,000 cubic meters a year), are obliged to provide data about their water consumption. To date the responses are patchy. Regarding the 64 large water consumers, the Junta has initiated sanctions investigations against 11 of them, the remainder have been granted and extension of one week to provide the data [This means that NONE have provided the information to date]. The drought decree also established a term of two months for the writing of emergency plans on the part of municipalities with over 20,000 inhabitants. The period has been extended until next the 20 of February so that the municipalities that not yet have supplied emergency plans (Alhaurín el Grande, Alhaurín de la Torre, Coín, Estepona, Marbella and Mijas) do it. Otherwise sanctions will be applied against them.

All very well and good, eh? Well, we are in the wettest season of the year, and water reserves are 25% BELOW the AVERAGE annual level. Some of the regions reservoirs are still only at 10% capacity. There is no possibility of piping water from other parts of the country, the pipelines simply do not exist and plans are beset (as usual) by political in-fighting. The proposed solution is more desalination plants. There are only two, one in Almeria, the other outside Marbella. A third is planned for 2008.

Looks like more land becoming available to film spaghetti westerns!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Barcepundit (English edition)

Barcepundit (English edition) has an excellent take on the "cartoon war". Putin (over here on a state visit) reinterates in El Periodico Zapatero's view that the cartoons are inflammatory, but that does not justify the reaction by muslims. But understand this, both Spain and Russia have significant minorities of muslims, and both have been direct victims of their terrorism. All the American 'wingnuts' are talking about this too, but I haven´t yet seen publication of the cartoons in the US. You should see what the Arab press prints about the Jews!

On a separate note, I was posted this link by a friend in the Gulf. Those Scandanavians sure know how to annoy people!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ballena blanca

This is the surprisingly apt name given to the anti-corruption and money laundering operation launched in 2004. Now we all know there is corruption here, but the scale of it compares to Russia's Yukos oil scandal.

Already, one of Marbella's leading lawyers, Fernando del Valle is facing jail over organising the laundering of hundreds of millions of euro through property deals for dozens of organised crime syndicates. The fallout has cost one Marbella mayor, Julian Muñoz his job and he's been convicted on corruption charges. Marbella's planning control has been taken away by the Junta de Andalucía. The (former Gil party) mayor, Pedro Tirado is in jail also facing corruption charges. And now his socialist successor, Salvador Zotano has been arrested on similar charges.

The Junta has criticised almost every town hall in Málaga province for planning irregularities, and now insists that every planning application for rural land goes through them. One of the few town halls not to have been caught up in this is Casares. It seems thay have a more pragmatic approach - The town iteslf is inland and the district has a tiny coastline, about 1km. All the housing developments on the coast do not spoil the town itself. Furthermore, the developers pay the town hall a premium for the land which funds the town´s infrastrucure. At the moment there are two new car parks, a community centre, a Guardia Civil barracks and sheltered housing all being built on the back of costal land sold for housing development. True this means we have five tower cranes (practically a motif for the Costa del Sol) in town, but it means somewhere to park the car. Until now the town had 80 parking spaces for over 400 cars in a mountain town with mediaeval narrow streets (see town photo from my first post).