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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.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Culebrón is one of the satellite villages of the nearby town of Pinoso. Culebrón is an unusual name for a village. Usually the word Culebrón is related to snakes. Big snakes. Or soap operas. Most Spaniards simply presume I'm mispronouncing the name when I tell them where I live. The last headcount said 112 people live here amongst them three British families with a fourth currently rebuilding an old house.

Culebrón is dusty and a browny, beigy, yellow colour. It is not a place where dogs, cats or humans worry too much about traffic - there isn't a lot. It would be wrong to describe Culebrón as pretty but it's not ugly either. There is a complete mix of houses but most tend to be old and look typical for the area - stone built, maybe with concrete facings, blinds and grilles over the windows, various colours of paint jobs. Plenty of oddly shaped concrete and corrugated iron sheds too. There is quite a lot of greenery and trees, mainly pines but with wild figs and pomegranates. The village is surrounded by vineyards, olive and almond groves and lots of crops I don't recognise.

Children are the usual beneficiaries of Spanish wills so houses generally pass to the sons and daughters. Most Spaniards don't like to live in a village so, until we foreigners arrived, country properties were unwanted. In the end the brothers and sisters would agree to keep their inherited house for family use simply to avoid the faff of selling it on. Of course some families live in Culebrón all year round but it really livens up during the summer when people move out of the towns and to the villages where, local wisdom says, it's cooler.

The village is basically cut into two unequal halves by the CV83 road which joins Pinoso to Monóvar. Most of the village is on the North side of the main road but there are a couple of smaller clusters of houses to the South; we're in one of them. Addresses in Culebrón are just numbers. So number 1 is on our side of the village on the slopes of the Sierra del Xirivell. Just on the other side of the main road is Restaurante Eduardo and he's number 17 so my guess is that there are seventeen houses in our little group.

Eduardo's restaurant is one of two businesses that I know of in Culebrón, the other is the Brotons bodega and oil mill. There have been a couple of attempts to make a go of businesses alongside what was the old main road but, like the Bates Motel, moving the road made them untenable. Nowadays, apart from various farmers, the restaurant and the bodega there is no obvious business in Culebrón. There were businesses in the past - for instance a building near to us used to be a shoe factory not so long ago. There are no shops so vans and lorries bring essentials like bread, cheese and bottled gas to some impenetrable timetable. Of course there may be thriving Internet businesses or cottage industries that I don't know about but I rather suspect that the 8Mgb download speed  and the less than 2kw power supply to most houses may be a little limiting.

Services are few and far between. I think a bus stops outside Eduardo's once a day on the run to the hospital down in Elda but that may be old information. The village school which was opposite the little square has long gone, there's a bit of a run down basketball/football area next to the recycling bins, the post box and post delivery is a bit unreliable, the public phone was taken away a while ago but most of the village (not our part) got mains drainage and fire hydrants a few years back. There is also a little chapel, an ermita, used principally during the village fiesta as well as a social centre which is used for community and private events. We do have a Neighbourhood Association which occasionally organises trips and always runs a couple of meals each year.

Our village fiesta is a weekend in July. There is a repetitive programme on the fiesta weekend but it's then when the village is busiest. My guess is that the talking and socialising is infinitely more important than the gachasmigas competition, the chocolate y toña session or even the Saturday evening meal with live music under the pine trees. Mind you for the past three, or maybe four, years there has also been a morning walking and running race organised to coincide with the fiesta and that brings hordes of people to Culebrón.

There's lots more to Culebrón but this piece is already too long so that will have to do. Good place to live, advantages and disadvantages like everywhere, but not too shabby at all.

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