Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Driving along in my automobile

I went to see some old pals in Valencia the other day. They are Britons here in Spain for just a few days. It's Fallas time in Valencia when lots and lots of communities and neighbourhoods construct papier maché type figures (I have no idea what material they actually use) up to maybe 20 metres high (a guess) and then set fire to them.

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and yesterday it was chockablock with people in town for the fiesta. It's quite likely that a lot of the regular inhabitants of Valencia have fled to avoid the disruption that Fallas causes but lots more were dressed up in "traditional" dress. As an aside have you ever wondered why traditional clothes are fixed at some point in the past? Who decided that the quintessential traditional costume in an area was worn in 1876 or 1923? Why not 1976 or 1723? And what if we chose 2016 as the perfect year for a new version of traditional costume? What and how would you choose? Why fix a style anyway?

I travelled to Valencia on the train. It seemed sensible when the train fare is 9.50€ for the 140kms especially as the railway station is right in the heart of the city. Like the country bumpkin that I am nowadays I marvelled at the throng of people on the pavements, the size of the crowd to watch, or rather hear, the bang bang bang of the mascletá outside the Town Hall and the general coming and going of people either involved, in some way, in the Fallas or not.

It was pretty manic getting on to the train to leave Valencia. There were so many people heading for the automatic ticket gates that security people were having to control the flow of ticket waving humanity. When I got back to my parked car at the Elda/Petrer railway station (free parking in the forecourt) the difference in pace was obvious. The side by side towns of Elda and Petrer have a combined population of around 90,000, which is a town sized town, but, even then, there was nothing much going on around the station.

As I drove the 25kms home I used main beam on the car more often than dipped. There was no traffic. There very seldom is. I can't remember when I was last in a traffic jam worthy of the name. Sometimes there is a brief interruption to the traffic flow but not very often. I drive 60kms to work and it takes me between 44 and 47 minutes without fail. Of course, we live in the back of beyond. In any of the bigger Spanish cities and towns, and down along the coast, the traffic is just traffic and there are jams and bumps and traffic lights and speed traps and nobody can find a parking place and all the rest.

Here though it's just like one of those adverts on the telly where the happy driver thrills to the luxury of his or her gleaming vehicle on the open road.

After all these years I still think it's one of the brilliant things about living in rural Spain.

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