Sunday, October 15, 2006

 

A Final comment on the fires in Galicia

It would appear that my dissenters were (and quite rightly) quick to pull out the daggers when I mentioned the Galician fires in a finger pointing way, but not so keen to comment when the same arguments were put forward in a rational and reasoned manner.

I will take solace in the fact that ultimately they found some credence in my hypothesis, but chose not to confirm that in writing!

I will, at some future point, comment on the alarming rise of Galician nationalism and the scant regard it has for the laws of not just Spain, but the EU court. I will however allow those whom I have already upset some time to recover and prepare for a further onslaught on my “good character”.

The next comment is not for Galicians

For anyone new to this blog I am of course a big fan of Galicia, but to mention its rolling hills, pretty rias and mountainous vistas would no doubt lead to my being accused of using over simplified stereotypes, so I will refrain from any such comments.

You can however take it as read that Galicia is a great place to visit if you like such things and that most Galicians are not just friendly and hospitable, but amongst the nicest people you are ever likely to meet. Amazingly, most also like the British and Americans.

And for all readers, irrespective of their nationality

For my next entry (maybe even more than one) I will comment on Galician women, their physical appearance, dress sense, deportment and manners and YES, this is about as complementary as I ever get.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

 

More on the fires and the “comments”.

My last blog clearly caused offence and I will start by firstly, apologising for that and secondly explaining in a serious (rather than childish way as I did in my previous blog) why I made the comments. I would also complement both writers on their excellent command of English and their relative restraint in what they said.

Firstly I do not think Galicians to be ignorant or morons, however certain aspects of certain Galicians behaviour does fit this category from time to time – this is true of the British and everyone else.

Secondly, and I guess I should be ashamed of this, I deliberately used provocative language simply to see if I got a response. - I did.

As far as the actual content of my comments are concerned I would start by making a few points to show where I am coming from.

1. My wife and all her family are Galician, most still live there and we spend several weeks each year in Galicia – hence I do not speak from a distant or detached perspective. I have also seen the results of the fires first hand and been caught in one last year. I have also tried to put one out, without success this year.

2. Ignoring the point above, I detest any mind set that believes you have to be British to criticise the British, a muslim to criticse muslims etc. We are all entitled to opinions and as long as there is some basis for them they have a right to be aired – and criticised. Ignoring (if you can) the way in which I made the observations, to dismiss them as having no validity is simply futile.

3. Obviously, if I disliked Galicia and its people I would not have married a Galician, would not visit the region each year and therefore it goes without saying that I am a fan of the place and its people – but they are not perfect, no one is.

As far as the “meat” of my two observations are concerned, I absolutely stand by them. I have witnessed both on several occasions and find it disturbing that with fires raging and tinder dry foliage, anyone in their right mind would throw a cigarette out of a car window or set off a firework.

Below I will try to address the points made in the comments posted (so far)

* As far as the British being the shame of Europe with their drinking exploits, I would disagree on only one count - Mallorca is not their destination, they go for the Costas, Ibiza and some of the Greek Islands. This reputation has also spread to eastern America where these drunks show that Britain rules the world only in loud mouthed drunken behaviour. Personally I would have them all shot and the observation that the Scots do not fall into this category is absolutely correct, but neither also do the Welsh. Please do not make the mistake of calling a Scot a “Jock”, if you do they will give you “just” cause to change your opinion of them.

* With respect to me believing that cigarettes and fireworks are the only 2 causes of the fires, no, I am aware that there are others, but my comments are spurred by other things. E.g.

Were either of you actually in Galicia this summer?

If, as I was, you were, you will be aware that a 90 year old wheelchair bound woman was formally accused of maliciously causing almost 100 fires, some over 50km from her house. She could not walk or drive and it was claimed that many of the fires were started at night – draw your own conclusions as to the likely guilt or otherwise of this woman. Do you genuinely feel that this, and many other similar examples, are more realistic causes of fires than bombas and tab ends? If so a serious debate, which I have now been drawn into, is pointless.

* Yes I do know people died as a result of the fires. As of the 31 July, 7 people had lost their lives directly as a result of them and my wife’s uncle and family twice had to be evacuated from their farm as a result of them.

* The good news is that very few English speakers read this blog. The better news (if you choose to see it that way) is that around 9000 people per week visit one of my websites about Galicia. The content of those sites paints Galicia as one of the best places in the world – a view I hold. Lugo city is also one of my favourite places in Galicia and the small chapels at the back of the cathedral are quite majestic.

Re: Bombas, what evidence do you have that they have never been the cause of fires? They may not have been in the past, but climate change and the current state of the environmental mean that they now clearly are. It is simply inconceivable that dropping a burning firework on tinder dry foliage does not result in a fire and I have seen it happen – and there is no purpose in me lying.

Re: Cigarettes, the comments on smoking in Britain are not actually valid for a number of reasons, some that do not reflect English civic responsibility. The percentage of smokers in Britain is a fraction of that in Spain and many other European countries and the throwing of tab ends out of a car window in the countryside would be incredibly rare. Not because of the responsibility of the smoker, but simply because smoking is so unpopular that the smoker would risk being reported and taken to court. The weather, but primarily the lack of forestation in the UK, would also make the risk of fires remote. Lucky for us!

To try and sum up my views, and to do so without causing further offence (if that is possible) I, as an outsider, simply see this (and be aware that other visitors to Galicia will see the same).

Excuses are made (by the Xunta and to a lesser degree in newspapers) to cite every possible fire cause that does not involve a traditional Galician activity (eg fiestas, bombas), the restriction of social freedoms (e.g. irresponsible discarding of cigarettes), the directing of responsibility at a Galician (e.g. blame the foreign water plane pilots), the acceptance of general irresponsibility (e.g. blame lunatic feuding neighbours and cats with their tails set alight), political funding approaches (e.g. subsidising the planting of forests of a certain Australian tree).

The list, from what I read and heard whilst in Galicia this summer, goes on and on, but in all honesty without ever seriously trying to address any real causes resulting from careless or irresponsible behaviour.

Trying (if that is possible) to forget what I wrote previously, if the comments above sound unreasonable, resolving the annual fire situation in Galicia is something that everyone might just as well give up on.

Finally, if you would like another opportunity to vent some anger at an Englishman, or better still be entertained by one (he is more of a gentleman than me), see the daily blog of http://colindavies.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 09, 2006

 

Summer fires in Galicia

I have read, and heard, all kinds of theories about the causes of the summer fires in Galicia and, whilst the climatic conditions remain a factor, people are the cause.

The most interesting point to note is that Galicia’s neighbours, e.g Asturias, have just as much forestation, the same mix of trees and next to no fires. The culprit must therefore be the Galician public and their behaviour.

The theories are quite frankly crap, and range from neighbour feuds, to cats with their tails set alight.

Anyway here are the two ACTUAL causes of the fires and, having spent a month in Galicia in both August 2005 and July 2006, I speak from first hand and sight experience.

Cause 1.

Galicians drive through a forested area, often with fires already blazing, but still wind down their car windows and throw their lit tab ends out. Does this happen occasionally – NO, it happened with every idiot smoker in a car in Galicia – they are total morons!

Cause 2.

Bombas. These rocket style bangers are launched hundreds of feet into the air, usually 10 or more in succession during fiestas – this means from May to September. They are let off every hour or so and always in the hills above the celebrating town – yes in the forests. An hour or two later a series of, to the Galicians at least, unexplained fires appear in the areas close to the launch points. What is the cause – only a Glacian would fail to know.

Why am I so annoyed by this? Because the EU is now funding costs, compensation and everything else to do with these self inflicted and completely avoidable fires. Fires that have cost people their lives and killed untold numbers of animals.

Galicians should be ashamed of their ignorance and for once I agree with the stereotype that the rest of Spain has of the region, they are stupid.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

 

Website updates

With my own PC security problems still unsolved, I am compelled to use another PC and ISP to add some long overdue (and finished almost a month ago) content to GaliciaGuide.com.

The additions will mainly be changes to commercial pages, but I will also add the first of 40 or so new town guides. The commercial pages involve a revamp of data about the site and how to advertise on it, plus visitor and SE stats.

I also intend to try and upload some amended pages to GaliciaSpain.net. The only real change will be the addition of google’s adsense to the main pages. New content is however on the way to that site and three new sections have been completed.

For my next entry, I will add some comments about the fires in Galicia this summer and what I am convinced are the two primary causes and no, neighbourly feuds, cats with their tails on fire and water plane pilots are not, in my opinion the culprits.

The culprits are of course Galicians at their worse and most astoundingly stupid – see next entry.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

 

Tapas bars in Noia’s medieval area

We have not in the past made many visits to Tasca Tipica , probably Noia’s busiest bar, but have remedied that this year.

Tasca Tipica is always busy and has a good reputation and a rustic look. It is in a several hundred year old building close to San Martino church and serves a variety of different dishes. The proprietor is called Pepe and he is a highly friendly and amicable guy.

This year we ate at Tasca several times and found their tapas to be as good as any. The restaurant behind the bar is also very atmospheric and anyone looking for somewhere with a “real” Galician feel will not be disappointed. Prices are also good.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that our favourite taps bar would probably be closing this year or early next.

The bar in question is la Para and we will be very disappointed if this plan goes ahead. The reason – the crazy hours that the family have to work. The bar, like most is open every day of the week (closing one evening) and stays open till the last customer leaves – often at 2am or 3am. Having a social life, finding a partner and just generally living must be hard under these circumstances and as the old generation retire the sons and daughters have decided to move on to other things. As I have also mentioned, this year has actually seen a downturn in visitors to the town – quite inexplicably.

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