I went to a meeting of the junta directiva, or mangement committee, of the village neighbourhood association this afternoon. I was worried beforehand that I would stutter and stumble so much that I would make a complete fool of myself. In the end I thought I did alright. I wasn't exactly Lincoln at Gettysburg but I managed to respond to what was going on around me and, even, to initiate topics and ideas in a reasonably coherent way. It's amazing how the right and better verb, adjective or noun repeatedly came to mind fractions of second after I loosed my second rate and simplistic phrase into the room.
Some of the committee members had met with the town mayor and a councillor earlier this week. They were reporting back to the couple of us who hadn't been there and looking for a decision. I'm not quite sure how much of what I heard is confidential and how much is public domain but, as it's not very interesting to anyone outside the village, I won't go into detail anyway.
So what did I learn? Well that at least 60% of Spaniards like snowballs, the cakes. It took a while for anyone, except me, to risk one but eventually three more were eaten with very favourable comments all round. Who knows what the approval rating would have been if the other two members hadn't exercised restraint?- maybe for Lent, maybe for health or maybe to avoid the calories. I was able to use the cakes to make a point. I suggested that the people around here tend to stick with the things they know; the tried and tested. Different things are, largely, ignored. Just as an aside you see that I took food. So did everyone else. No Spanish event goes without food and I knew.
In dodgy Spanish I tried to push the idea that the neighbourhood association should be trying to find solutions to those things that cause problems to people in the village. I mentioned transport for older people or those who don't drive and I was instantly told that buses couldn't break even which gave me the perfect in to talk about dial a ride, car sharing and community transport schemes. I mentioned the village's pathetic power supply and how that might be something for a bit of community action and I talked about the multi role shops in Teruel. It was like the old days - talking vaguely about community development.
Of course I didn't really say much. I did a lot more listening and even more nodding. I found out a fair bit about the village that I didn't know and about the slightly less than democratic process that provides the town hall with a village spokesperson.
In the time that we've lived in Culebrón I've been impressed with the effort that several individuals have put in to make the village a better place. It will be interesting to see if the larger committee manages to do anything differently