Friday, June 06, 2014

This Is Not Magalluf

Puerto Alcúdia. Puerto Pollensa. Can Picafort. Playa de Muro. What do they have in common? If you answer that they are all resorts in the north of Majorca, then you would be right but you would also be wrong. The real answer is that they are not Magalluf. In just the same way as Port Sóller, Cala Millor and Cala d'Or are not Magalluf.

The Mallorca world revolves around a sun of Magalluf obscured by darkness that stalks the night and only around this sun. Am I right or am I right? You would be right, too. Magalluf, always Magalluf. Never here, there or everywhere else. The body of Magalluf is picked over by a scavenging and voracious press endlessly hunting for the bones of a story, one that is preferably sordid, sensational, sad or all three. A plague on both the houses of Magalluf itself and the media it fattens.

I am right but I'm not right. You would be right but you would not be right. The northern resorts, as with more or less all other resorts in Mallorca, may have little more than walk-on parts as extras in the tragi-comedy that has been playing to packed media audiences in Magalluf, but there is something to be said for playing a bit part: no spotlight turned on means no blemishes to be noticed, real or imagined, minor or rather more than minor. Be careful what you wish for by way of attention.

The prostitute thing is not a phenomenon in the northern resorts. Thank God for that. But Magalluf serves as a warning. As perhaps do solutions to its troubles. If not Magalluf, then where? The prostitute thing would be unlikely to gravitate north because of logistics. Where are the women based? Palma. Distances are short to the places of their violence. Besides which, the north's resorts are unlike Magalluf and parts of Playa de Palma that offer fertile drunken, youthful pickings for the women of the night mugging patrols. But there again, it isn't only the drunken and the youthful who fall prey. And also there again, it isn't accurate to suggest that northern resorts are solely "family", a branding which somehow seems to imply that they are spared the worst excesses that Mallorca can offer.

Things do gravitate though. Remember the problems caused by the scratch-card touts? The story went that they had been hounded out of Calvia and so switched operations to Alcúdia, which also meant the other northern resorts. Which year would it have been? 2008 maybe? The office in Puerto Alcúdia suddenly closed towards the end of July. They all disappeared. There was never an adequate explanation as to why, though it was believed to have been because the fines had reached such a level that they had to shut up shop (fines for illegal street touting, that is). A new operation appeared the next year but the worst had passed. There was no longer quite the harassment and the abuse that tourists had been subjected to, and what there has been by way of touting in the past couple of years has been low-key compared to what it once was. But though there were supposedly the fines, it wasn't really police action that stopped the worst of the scratch-card operators. It was more because the level of business wasn't good enough.

The looky-lookies are something else. They have been a feature for years, and complaints against them, as in Magalluf, are increasing. And just as in Magalluf, there are occasional police actions, and they're back on the streets in no time. There are bar owners who are sick and tired of them, but there are some bar owners who have to look at themselves. Those ones who have encouraged the lookies. And we all know that it is not just fake goods that they sell. They've been selling other stuff for years as well, and if a tourist doesn't happen to know what else they sell, there is always someone on hand to tell that tourist. I shan't identify the shop, but let me just say that I overheard its owner telling a couple of Swedish lads the other day about the lookies. "The black guys?" asked one of the Swedish boys. "They sell gear?" "Yes." It's always nice to be helpful to tourists.

We may feel in the north that it's all about Magalluf, but then we have to ask why that is the case. The concentration on Magalluf may offend as much as the negative nature of the reporting offends and so doesn't reflect all that is positive, but again one has to ask why. There are serious issues in Magalluf. Be thankful that it is Magalluf which gets the attention. But also wish Magalluf well.

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