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.

Comments

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…

The Statue of Liberated Woman

Last night's Minaret exhibit was not only a chance to share some photos that I've taken on my travels but an opportunity to retrieve and relive some dusty memories that had been lying forgotten in my 1.0 memory chip mind.

During the evening, a few astute visitors were quick to notice an early Soviet-era statue that features prominently in one of the photographs, thus refreshing my memory in regards to one of my favourite emblems in Baku, Azerbaijan.

While living in the city, my wife and I lived just off Nizami square/Metro stop in the infamous 'Beysh Barmak'. Baku's first 5-story building (thus the name) that was stodgily yet sturdily built during the years of Russian rule. The window panes hadn't been changed since the 5 year plans, allowing the winter wind free access to the flat, but it was a handy address that every taxi driver knew...especially given the fact that I speak no Azeri or Russian, no matter how much vodka I drank.

At the time we lived there (2004-…

A Bit of Iranian Know-How for Semana Santa

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.

Long before San (saint) Obama’s time and the recent thaws, I recall sitting at a café in one of the posher neighbourhoods of northern Tehran. Heavy snow still sat up above us on the Alborz mountains, its run off rushing by between the towering green trees that lined the streets that snaked downhill towards the jungle of that huge city. Like now, spring was just around the corner. Young people sat all around us smoking quaylans and drinking tea, unsuccessfully trying to conceal the fact that there was more going on than tea drinking. Religiously obligatory head scarves miraculously clung from the very backs of the heads of the heavily made up young women while the young men pushed the limits of the acceptable length of hair that they could wear. True, they were afraid that the dreaded religious police, the Ershad, might…