Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How To Enjoy A Holiday

Sharp observers of this blog will know that - like many another blog - I do, from time to time, have something to say about local media or to base some of my stuff on what appears therein. Till now, I have never lifted a whole piece. But I’ll make an exception now, but only in translation from the Spanish.

There is a free newspaper that doesn’t venture north, but is available in Palma. I got a copy today. It’s called ADN. At the back there is a column called “The End” (really, English title). Not a Doors-type “The End” (my beautiful friend), just an end column. One Montserrat Dominguez.

This is what it says today (this is a slightly abbreviated version anyway):

“ITV is showing a series called ‘Benidorm’ which relates - in comedic fashion - the adventures of a group of tourists. The action centres on an all-inclusive complex. The tourists neither have to leave (this complex) nor do they have to eat paella. Did I say paella? (asks Montserrat). Excuse me: the Brits enjoy fish and chips, porridge, baked beans and other specialities of their cuisine; they don’t try local dishes. Why would they risk this, given that their surroundings reproduce a scene in which they have pubs, music, tobacco and drinks.

Why then do they come to Benidorm, to Mallorca, to the Costa Brava or to the Canaries? A walk along the coast shows us (the Spanish) that they can pass through hundreds of urbanisations without hearing a word of Castilian, Mallorquin or Catalan, or even worse, without discovering a cold beer, a slice of tortilla or a good pa amb oli. The Swedish, German or Irish ghettoes on our coastline are a wonder of mimicry.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves our own question though: in the Caribbean, all-inclusive complexes proliferate, and thousands of Spaniards seek out an exotic environment which doesn’t ruin, one jot, their own blessed routines. The French do something similar when they go to their Club Meds. What happiness! To travel thousands of kilometres to feel just like being at home.”

Well, setting aside any dodgy translation, what Montserrat is getting at is that all tourists do what the Brits are notorious for and have been for decades; it was the early ‘70s after all when Eric Idle and the Monty Python gang did the piss-take based on “Watneys Red Barrel”. But she’s right to bemoan the fact that all too few tourists seem to want to escape their familiar surroundings and enjoy the local culture. Some do, but the majority appear not to. That’s largely how it is here, especially for those ensconced in all-inclusives. She might have chosen some of her examples more carefully; I think cold beers can be had in all-inclusives - many of them in fact - but I know the point she’s making.

Happy hols!!!

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