Skip to main content

The Saint of Towed Cars

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

I noticed the license plate as the local police slid the hoist under the car. Then when the tow truck roughly yanked the car to the right and then lifted it up, I saw it even more clearly, P for Portugal. I immediately thought of the poor tourist checking out of her nearby hotel, preparing herself for the long drive home and then turning the corner into the Calle Zurbaran only to find another car parked where she had left hers three days ago. She would thinking, had hers been stolen? No, it couldn’t have been. The car definitely wasn’t new and she had been deliberately careful to leave nothing visible. Had it been parked illegally? No, no signs or blue paint on the road. In fact she remembered feeling terribly lucky that she had found a free parking spot so close to her hotel and as everything she had needed was within walking distance, she had completely forgotten about her ride home during her visit. My hand fumbled in my pocket, looking for my phone but then I remembered reading something about the new gag laws they were passing here in Spain and the terrible fines that they could now give for taking pictures of the police at their work. The threat worked, I thought twice and left my hand where it was. I looked around for some explanation as to why they were towing this tourist’s car and then the thud of nearby drums triggered my memory, it was Semana Santa, Holy Week. Three days ago, her car had been fine but little scrawled signs probably went up in the middle of the night and now this tourist was going to have to pay more than her gas to get home. In a year that reeks of elections and when there is so much talk of transparency and facilitating information to the people, which is all well and good, profound changes need to be made in the way that locals and tourists alike are informed about day to day things in our fine city. Catovis (life-long Cacereños) and procession-goers might know that the procession of the Saint of Old Shoes goes up Zurbaran street on Easter Friday but what about Almudena from Lisbon? If, in our desire to attract more tourism we want to hang out the No Vacancy sign, we should make sure that other signs are clear too.


Popular posts from this blog

The 10 Best Places to Swim...?

I read a post the other day listing the 10 best places to swim around the world. Reading through them I realized that I hadn't been to even one of them!

Poor me, but then I thought, wait...I've swum in some lovely places.

Let's narrow them down to 3 in no particular order.

Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Northern Florida

If northern Florida wasn't interesting enough in its own time travel way, these springs are perfect. It's a surreal place to swim among the Spanish moss while the alligators patrol out in the warmer river that the springs flow into (the big toothy grins don't like the cooler water).

Bir Ali, Yemen

Yemen never makes it onto the glossy Caribbean style travel brochures, but the emerald green of the Arabian Sea is a mighty match for hurricane alley. Just outside the town of Bir Ali you can camp on a deserted white sandy beach that seems to extend all the way down to Aden. Behind you the sands of the beach meet and mingle with those of the desert on the vol…

Thou Shalt All Think the Same

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

One of the first things that drew me to Spain back in the nineties was a feeling that people generally minded their own business. Sure, they might comment, criticize or even ridicule those who wore socks with sandals, ate in the street or simply did things differently, but at least they let them do it. While the hyper-entrenched norms of society exerted an enormous pressure on people to fit in, non-conformists were mostly looked down upon, but not necessarily punished. If someone wanted to transform a lovely nineteenth century house in their village into a three story apartment monstrosity, well, if the law somehow let them do it, it was their choice to do so. The homogeneity of streets and entire Spanish villages have suffered enormously due to this, but if that’s the look the owner wants, well? Taste is after all a …

Nothing to do with it

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Just as the bartender put down our cañas, my companion somewhat skeptically asked, “But how is it possible that you, a Canadian, are complaining about the cold here in Spain?” And he was right on two fronts, I am Canadian and indeed I had been complaining about the cold, but I persevered, “After having lived abroad so long, I’m not sure how much ‘Canadian’ is left in me but even that last little bit is sick and tired of winter, especially as it is technically now spring!” A temporary truce was called when our tapas was served and as I enjoyed my morcilla (blood sausage), I got ready for the next volley. “Really, down here we can’t complain. Look at how they getting punsished just north of here in the mountains and beyond.” And once again, he was right, the images on TV were terrible reminders of my frozen childhood bac…