Monday, October 27, 2008

Under My Skin

The hell of the mosquito. They are still around, and some will linger; you can encounter a rogue mosquito at more or less any time during the winter, but for the moment the flies are the more annoying flying thing. For some people though, for some tourists, mosquitoes are the ruination of holiday. One can see some visitors who have been attacked in the most aggressive fashion, bites along the arms and around the neck, by the ankles or the backs of knees, inflamed and scratched. It is small comfort to those who are badly affected, but it is the case that far from everyone suffers in such a way. I am one of the latter. This year I have had hardly any mosquitoes bites, and when I have got them they have been no more than a temporary nuisance, as is the norm where I'm concerned at any rate. One thing that does sometimes intrigue me is the extent to which people who live here are badly affected. You hear the odd moan about a bite being irritating, but I never seem to see anyone, other than tourists, who is covered in bites.

To see some of the stuff on the internet, you would think that Alcúdia (by which one must be clear in saying that part of Puerto Alcúdia that houses the majority of tourists, i.e. Bellevue and its environs) was the only place on the island where mosquitoes were a problem. This is far from the case. Puerto Pollensa is similarly blighted as are other parts. Anywhere with water with slow circulation gives rise to mosquitoes. And Mallorca is of course unexceptional in having mosquitoes.

But it is probably fair to say that Puerto Alcúdia, and also Playa de Muro, have more of a mosquito reputation than mostly anywhere else in Mallorca. It's the fault of all that water. Once upon a time, it was far worse. Albufera used to stretch as far as the boundaries of what is the port area which, if you refer to some maps, is known as Mar i Estany (sea and lake). The lakes of Las Gaviotas, Esperanza and Menor were the results of the reclaiming of Albufera, as are of course the tourist centre around Bellevue and all the residential area surrounding it. The problem is, small comfort again, not nearly as bad as was once the case.

The reports of holiday-hell time, as a consequence of the "Alcúdia" mosquito are numerous. One I saw just recently complained of the need for treatment two months on from a holiday (by the Lago Menor); there was also a recommendation for people not to come to "Alcúdia". I use the quotation marks because of the degree of misrepresentation. There is little or no mosquito problem away from the Bellevue area and the lakes and canals of Puerto Alcúdia and from the lake and wetlands of Playa de Muro. Treatment for two months means infection, and, hard though it is to stop, scratching the bite is the best way of creating an infection. One is tempted to say that it's just bad luck, but don't underestimate the power of just one example of an unhappy tourist covered in unsightly lumps. I have read exchanges which result in someone concluding that they will go elsewhere, because someone else has been similarly badly affected.

This should be a matter of concern. It is hardly a new one, but the widespread use of the internet, the exchange of opinion and the recommendation or condemnation are peculiarly powerful in determining choice and selection. The presence of mosquitoes was something you used to find about only when you arrived. Not now. A bad-mosquito week in Alcúdia can mean a booking for Palmanova, even if mosquitoes are not unknown in the latter. The person I referred to above said that until the "problem" (of mosquitoes) is solved, people should avoid "Alcúdia". They're going to have a long wait. The only real solution lies in getting rid of all that solution - the water of the lakes, canals and Albufera. That is not going to happen. Another is to intervene, by which one means increasing the number of natural predators and by using chemicals.

One fears that the mosquito problem has been looked upon with a degree of complacency. Tourists have always come in abundance, and they're not about to stop coming. That's true, and one can certainly overplay the extent to which the presence of mosquitoes do influence the holiday decision. But there is evidence that it does, and the more that people use the internet in guiding that decision, the more it is possible that tourists will opt for somewhere else. It should be a matter of concern, but - as I've remarked before - I wonder to what extent, if any, the local tourist authorities take any notice. I can sense another little meeting about to take place.

Further to the entry for 22 October, my thanks to Dick who did indeed go and sample Australian Boulevard, the somewhat bizarre bar in Puerto Pollensa; bizarre given the lack of huge numbers of Australians. Anyway, Dick says that, appropriate decorations and beers notwithstanding, there wasn't a great deal of information, Australia-wise on tap, such as the result of the Aussie Rules grand final. No, there probably wouldn't be. Australian by name; Spanish by nature; Grupo Boulevard by design.

Coming next - Moscow Boulevard for the five-star pretend-oligarch folk of Playa de Muro. Vodka, borsch and careful on the polonium in the teapot.

Yesterday's title - Yes, "Yours Is No Disgrace" ( Today's title - part of a title of something done by many, e.g. those of the parts of the year.


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