Imagine what it is like to live in Orihuela next to a piece of open land where every weekend throughout the summer you are kept awake until the early hours of the morning by the sound of motorbikes and people shouting. In the daytime you set out to be greeted by the sight of hundreds of bottles littered on the land and the overpowering stench of urine.
The Spanish call it botellón or large bottle - a common practice among young people on Friday and Saturday nights. The first stop is the supermarket to pick up large bottles of mixers, cheap bottles of sprits and plastic glasses. Then they congregate at pre determined locations with their carrier bags of booze and stay until the early hours of the morning.
Along with the graffiti artists, these young people are causing a lot of distress in the city and the situation is rapidly getting out of control. Unless steps are taken to eradicate these problems, there is a danger that parts of the city will resemble ghettos where nobody wants to live.
The same problems exist, to a lesser extent in towns like Bigastro. Graffiti in the town is on the increase.
A few weeks ago, Pam and I saw two young men making their statement on a wall at the bottom of Avenida Europa. In broad daylight, the “artists” were touching up a previous piece of graffiti. They were dressed like urban guerrillas. armed with cans of paint, brushes and the inevitable spray paint to finish the job off. They obviously thought they were doing a public service by turning this drab concrete block wall into “art”. To the rest of the population, what they had created was an illegible scrawl. The only saving grace was that the wall did not seem to be on a house but it must belong to someone.
Further up the road, there is an old finca which has stood in ruins since we arrived here. A few years ago, a concrete wall was built around it. We thought that meant it would be reformed and lived in. That has not happened and the house still stands in ruins. The carefully built wall, which must have cost quite a bit, is now covered in graffiti making the site look uglier than it was before constructed.