Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Guardia Civil / Parking / Language

Well, my thanks to the Bulletin for some interesting stuff today.

Firstly, collar-felt time. Collar-felt time big time, laddy. Not your average Joe crim, but the head of the Balearics Guardia Civil who - allegedly - has been siphoning off Guardia funds for building works that have never been done. He was duly sacked yesterday. I’m not saying anything; not another word.

It is rare indeed for me to find anything of note in Riki Lash’s musings, but I have to go along with him when he attacks the on-the-spot fines for tourists (and also those fines for foreign residents) who don’t understand road warning signs. He argues that car-hire firms should give information as to what these signs and symbols mean. Fair enough, methinks.

There is also a letter from a lady who received a parking ticket in Santa Ponsa. The deal was this, it would appear: the hire car was legally parked with a piece of paper on the dashboard stating day and time of parking. Yet a police officer still slapped a ticket on the car. The curiosity about this is that the driver had to write out the time on a piece of paper. This sounds remarkably similar to the system in operation - after a fashion - in the parking area by the marina in Puerto Pollensa. Here one is meant to write out the time, parking being limited to an hour and a half. And yet I seem to be the only one who does this. The last couple of occasions I’ve parked there, I’ve looked at other cars. No notes about times. Yet there is still a sign (not immediately obvious it must be said), explaining that this is indeed what you need to do. Frankly it’s a daft arrangement. Why not have a machine that issues a ticket? Or at least have large signs explaining what to do. Then there is a practical point. What if you don’t have something to write with? Nuts, I reckon.

The writer of the letter suggests she won’t be coming back. An over-reaction? Well maybe, but I have some sympathy. I once watched an incident involving some German tourists in Alcúdia. It wasn’t immediately obvious to me what they were meant to have done wrong - it was that they had turned left where they shouldn’t have - but the police officer was pretty abrupt. “You pay now!” They really did look quite upset, and I couldn’t blame them. I don’t really blame the police officer either; he was only doing his duty. But - and moving to a different point - his language was not good enough to communicate in a half-pleasant fashion. Consequently, the encounter was highly negative for people who looked like they wouldn’t say boo to a goose (i.e. very decent and up-standing) and who also might have thought twice about returning.

It is the case here that any significant dealings with the local plod require a translator for which the tourist has to pay. I don’t know that this is right. In a tourist area I believe that there should be sufficient numbers of police officers who can speak at least English; and some German would come in handy, too. Any language trainers out there?

Forgot to mention that - weather-wise - August was officially cooler than average, which will come as no surprise. September has seen a return to warmer and more humid weather, though - as yet - there are no signs of the occasional massive storms that can gather around this time of the year.

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