Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not very pleasant

Last week as we drove down to the town we noticed some graffiti on the board which holds a map of the Pedrera. The message said “Giri go home” (giri means “stupid foreigners”).  Further down the road the same message was repeated on the wall of the large finca and then again just before the turning to Bigastro. On the builder’s board where the office used to be it said “No + urbanizaciones” which we assume meant no more urbanisations. Neither of these are considered viewpoints since all we do is add to the town by spending our money there. We don’t steal jobs, we don’t claim benefits and we provide work for the local builders and tradespeople.

I have to say that Pamela and I have been made to feel more than welcome by all of the Spaniards we have met. They even greet us in the streets as we pass by. Clearly though, as a group, we have upset somebody. Anyway a quick phone call to the Acalde (Mayor) at the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) and a van was dispatched to clean it all up.

I know that there are some residents who complain bitterly about the young lads who ride their motorbikes up the main roads at the weekend. Most are underpowered mopeds running flat out to get up the hill so they can be noisy. To us it is a minor disturbance – a few seconds and they are gone but to some it is obviously a challenge. I suspect that one of the residents last weekend went out and shouted at them – probably in English and they retaliated by leaving us a message.

At least the Mayor doesn’t want to upset us. Mind you he is up for re-election this year and by all accounts only just got in last time. I dare say our votes would be useful to him. With this kind of support he has got ours!

1 comment:

Pete said...

You're right Keith. It's not very pleasant. I abhor their methods but I can't in sincerity say that I'm not sympathetic to their issue.

Any large scale immigration causes real and lasting changes to a community, and I'm sure that Bigastro is no different. You and Pam have made a serious and sincere effort to integrate into a foreign community, enrolling into Spanish classes being a great start, but I'll wager that not everybody on your 'urbanizacion' has made such an effort.

Do you have an English pub there yet? How long before one appears do you think? How long before the butchers start selling the English cuts of meat that you covet? How long before the shops start selling HP sauce? Extrapolate it to the full and you end up with dual language signage and a mish mash of cultural identity. Sure, it may sound like scaremongering, and may not happen in your lifetime or even mine, but look at Wales. Look at Birmingham. Look at Bradford. The precedent is abundandtly clear.

You might spend your money there, but this isn't just about a fiscal implication. I get riled every time I see a new housing estate springing up in Liverpool, because I know that it's houses that we don't need. At the same time houses elsewhere in the city are being demolished - houses that have stood for a hundred years being replaced with houses designed, DESIGNED no less, to last twenty five. The net impact on the local economy may be positive, but at what sociological cost?

Do you really know what impact the housing estates in Bigastro have had on the local people and the town? Do you REALLY know what it was like beforehand?

I really hope you can find harmony with your neighbours, and if more people adopt your approach of genuine assimilation to the local community then diversity becomes something to be celebrated and not feared. Just don't imagine that your impact on the town is as completely benevolent as you might think. A touch of empathy could pay dividends in harmonious relations!