Spain has been hard hit by the present financial crisis. The motor for much of the economy was construction but most building work has ground to a halt. For every brickie not working there is a long chain of people affected from electricians and plumbers to lorry drivers, furniture sellers and restauranteers - unemployment is an epidemic. The main earner in the town of Pinoso is marble and with competition from the Chinese and the slump in the domestic market the town has seen its income halved. The Town Hall, with less money to spend, has cut its support for lots of cultural activities - the grant for the local brass band, for instance, dropped from 40,000€ to 19,500€.
This weekend Culebrón has its local fiesta in honour of San Jaime. Normally the Town Hall coughs up some cash to pay for fancy lights, to hire the local dance troupe etc. Not this year. So the programme is much less extensive and much less expensive.
We started last night, with a vermouth session. Vermut is a traditional drink in these here parts and our village bodega makes it. One of the other bodegas in town processes the local crops of olives, almonds, lupin seeds etc. A couple of phone calls to brothers, sisters, cousins or whatever and the village had the makings of a party - vermouth with nibbles. Only the soda water, pop for the children and ice had to be paid for.
We were due to start at 8pm; I turned up at around 8.20 and nothing much was happening. I helped to put out the tables and chairs but it wasn't till around 9.15 that Roberto turned up with the booze. The cohetero, the man who sets off the rockets to announce the start of the fiesta, set about his task. I loaned him my lighter. The party was under way.