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March 2008

This is a big issue among expatriates here in Andalucia. Just how integrated into the local culture are we? Just how integrated should we be? It's clear that many are attracted to the south of Spain by a radiant sun, clear blue skies and stretches of heavenly beach. Those who settle in coastal areas have more opportunity to band together in colonies with only minimal contact with the "natives". Their inland counterparts have little choice but to learn the language, get the know their neighbours and adhere to the old adage, "when in Spain...". I speak the language.
Big, big news item this week. Would you believe that the owners of a hospital in Cádiz have taken 30 euros in bonus pay away from nurses who refuse to wear the traditional uniform - the one specified in the company regulations? That uniform was chosen 30 years ago and includes a skirt, fitted white apron, classic nurses cap - the works! (Really takes you back in time, I must say.) It so happens that nurses at the hospital have decided it's time to retire the old skirt in favour of a loose trouser with a comfortable elastic waist.
And this really is something to consider: imagine holding a weeklong party in your home. Would you be ready to dive into "life as usual" on Monday morning? It only makes sense that this week our entire region is suffering a sort of "post Semana Santa hangover" or "post-vacation stress disorder" - you choose. I've always found the post-Holy Week local news to be rather amusing. Of course the week starts off slowly with whatever reporters can come up with after such a week of processions, eating, drinking and the like.
Penitence just isn't what it used to be. Who would have imagined back in 1890, for example, that those bearing the heavy floats through the streets would one day have the support of... physiotherapists? That's right. I saw it myself this weekend on the local news.
What a great place to celebrate World Consumer Day! Where better than southern Spain? With such great weather, you can put together the perfect picnic and choose an ideal location to... consume, of course! You can be sure that all of our local consumer organisations have been working hard this week, preparing information and alerts to raise consciousness on this important day, dedicated to one of the most practiced activities on the planet... consumption, of course. Fuel prices are at the top of the lists of consumer concerns at the moment.
Six times in a row! That's Manuel Chaves for you, Andalucia's president once again winning the elections. But not, however, without a new little twist this time around. Even though Socialists once again swept the board across southern Spain, the opposition Popular Party has shown its strength - winning 10 extra seats in our regional parliament (while Socialists lost 5!).
If you've never been to the Parque de las Ciencias science museum in Granada (capital), I highly recommend you make a spot in your agenda. This is a must see for kids of all ages - up to around 110 years old, I think. In fact, as my family and I enjoyed a fun-filled day mixing with a zillion hands on exhibits and displays, I noticed there were actually organised groups of third age adventurers who seemed to be enjoying the facilities every bit as much as we were. With more than 30,000 square metres to explore, I can guarantee you won't run out of things to