Posted by: puebloman | March 24, 2009

Tourist tracks 1

Agriculture apart (Andalucia is the largest exporter of organic fruit in Europe), the tourist industry is still more or less what keeps the province financially afloat. It was invented in Marbella and facilitated by Franco as a way of syphoning foreign currency into Spain during the time of sanctions and isolation. The Costa del Sol now stands as an enduring monument to unregulated corrupt enterprise –  a giant chalk-white high rise turd, shat by a giant seagull onto the sands of southern Spain.

Turn north into the hills however and everything changes. If you’re foreign you will need a phrase book, you will have to eat at lunchtime (mid afternoon) and not in the evening, you won’t be able to tell a shop from an ordinary house, and even if you can speak Spanish you won’t be able to understand anything anyone says. This is ‘rural tourism’ – pure, “authentic” and a world away from the union-jack shorts and lager-vomit of  “traditional” tourism. The junta here are determined that the hills will not end up like the coast. Last month the mayor of Alcaucin was hauled away in chains, his mattress found to be literally stuffed with the cash ‘bungs’ he received for turning a blind eye to illegal cortijos and swimming pools. More arrests are to follow and illegal builds have been served notice that they may be pulled down within a month without reference to legal process. In the past, Spanish law used to be so long winded that illegals often developed squatters rights while due process ground to its exceedingly slow conclusion. No more.

An altogether more upmarket  future is planned for the tourism of the hills – wholesome, healthy, cultural, educational, of the sort favoured by the young upwardly mobile and the solvent middle aged. To this end the junta have invented a number of genteel ‘routes’ , so that the discerning tourist can glean the greatest possible cultural bang for his increasingly meagre buck. There is, for example, the Route of the Moor, the Route of Wine, the Route of the Olive, and, bizarrely, the Route of the Avocado. Almachar and Cutar lie on the Ruta de la Pasa (the route of the raisin).  However, certain feckless young persons have found that by scraping one of the legs off the letter R they can create the letter P.  So “Ruta de la Pasa”  became “Puta de la Pasa”  or Whore of the Raisin. We now have Whore of the Moor, Whore of the Wine, Whore of the Olive, and, most disgusting of all, Whore of the Avocado. Although vandalism is a terrible thing, it does lighten up the landscape a bit while reminding us all of the fate that awaits the pure, when forced suddenly to make a living.

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