January 2011

One thing which no expat living in Andalucia, or Spain, can fail to notice, is the difference in the roles of the sexes here, as compared to most northern European countries. Women are (generally) the ones who cook and take care of the children. I nearly fell off the sofa laughing when I was watching one of those "real people's homes" TV programmes a few months ago. They were visiting a gorgeous house in Marbella, where a Scandinavian guy, his Spanish wife and their children lived.
There is a new scandal which is slowly coming to light here in Spain. Last year, there were a few stories in the press on the subject; now, there is a flood, with newspaper and TV reports appearing daily. Today, it reached the Fiscal General (Attorney General)'s office, so it is making headlines nationally and internationally. It is about stolen babies. If that sounds a little melodramatic, it's because it is. It is a shocking, brutal and frankly terrifying story which will (yet again) shake the Catholic church to its roots.
Last week it was FITUR, the tourism fair, in Madrid. You may have seen reports in the press, and numerous mentions on Twitter, about the (temporary) hotel made of rubbish, designed to coincide with FITUR. The hotel was constructed using 12 tons of basura collected from beaches around Europe (including Spain's). Part of a campaign to alert people to the litter that is dumped on our beaches, "Save the Beach", the hotel closed yesterday but attracted a huge amount of media attention during its short life span.
I don't know if is the case throughout Andalucia - perhaps you can let me know? - but there have been loads of roadblocks around here recently to breathalyse people. We were driving back from going out to lunch on Sunday a week ago, and at a roundabout between two towns, the Guardia were waiting with two patrol cars.
Something that became clear to me not long after arriving in Spain, over seven years ago, was that this country has very clearly-defined roles in terms of family. This has changed over the years, but you'll still find elderly mothers being looked after the (younger/est) daughter. When I started going out with my now-husband, a long-time resident and expert on Spanish social affairs asked me, "There is a daughter, right? Just so that you know that the mother-in-law won't have to come and live with you." The eldest son - my husband, in our case - has a clear role.
It's now over a week since the new Ley Antitabaco came into effect. Up until last Tuesday - the latest figures available, this being Spain - FACUA (the consumers' association) had received 1014 denuncias nationally, of which 246 were in Andalucia, with 142 of those in Malaga. In the first 24 hours alone, there were 300 complaints.
Hello. This is my first blog post of 2011. Happy New Year, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends, whether in Andalucia, the UK or elsewhere. I was fortunate enough to avoid the snow and ice travel chaos when I flew to England before Christmas by the skin of my teeth, arriving 24 hours before the huge blizzard which crippled so many airports.