Saturday, July 27, 2013

When It All Falls Apart

How can it have come to this? There are people I know who have lived in Mallorca for a very much longer time than I have and others who have been acquainted with the island for considerably longer than myself. There are people who rant about anything and who can be ignored and then there are those whose views and opinions one respects because of their "veteran" status and their rationality.

Sometimes, the most unexpected happening sparks off a reaction one might not have expected. Poison being put down on Llenaire beach in Puerto Pollensa was most unexpected. It is far from normal for people to go around trying to poison animals, which is presumably what the poison was intended to do. It was most unexpected, but perhaps because it was so unexpected, it has shocked more than other happenings. The final straw maybe.

People who have chosen to live in Puerto Pollensa or to buy property there or who have simply made a habit of coming on holiday are rightly proud of their decisions. It is notable just how passionate people are about Puerto Pollensa, as others are passionate about other parts of Mallorca. Occasionally, this passion leads to defensiveness or a dismissal of problems. Normally, however, these problems are of the oh God, it's Spain variety. People get used to cock-ups, things not getting done or masses of bureaucracy. People deal with all this; it is part of a perverse charm.

But there is something else which is notable. People are getting pissed off. They are also aware that their little bit of heaven is not quite as it was. It is no longer what was said on the tin. The poison on Llenaire beach is like Milton's poison in the Garden of Eden. Innocence lost. It might seem an over-reaction, but maybe it isn't. Maybe it is symptomatic of the whole paradise dream beginning to fall apart.

Of course, one can always look elsewhere and compare problems. They are worse elsewhere. True, but contenting oneself with the knowledge that elsewhere is worse is a clutching at straws. The final straw may have broken the back. Things were never meant to have got to the stage of a "worse" comparison being made because things were never meant to have been bad. Without a bad, there can be no worse.

It is a drip-drip which suddenly becomes a gush-gush. Puerto Pollensa is not unique in having properties targeted by tax and tourism inspectors, but the actions of the government are more acute in the resort than almost anywhere else on the island. What disappoints and then hacks off is the knowledge that money has been pumped into the area through property purchase and through all the additional benefits this brings to the local economy; the knowledge that so much love has been devoted to an area, to an island that many have fallen head over heels with. People feel more than disappointment. They feel dumped on, taken advantage of, disrespected despite all that they have done.

The actions of the tax and tourism inspectorate are only one manifestation, and rules may apply equally to Mallorcans and Spaniards as they do to foreigners, but do they, because how does one explain the views of someone who was brought up here, who has owned a business here, employed people here, who has lived here for the best of half a century (and on the southern side of the island)? Someone who sees everyone here being in "the hands of idiots and imbeciles who are ruining our future", who says that the "sooner we foreigners realise that we are and always will be second-class citizens, then so much the better".

So much for the better or maybe so much for the worse. There are very many worse places that lack the same stunning views, that lack the innate charms of, for instance, a Puerto Pollensa. But equally, there are very many other places that can lay claim to similar attributes. Little pieces of heaven can be found elsewhere. Elsewhere that isn't necessarily worse.

Lunacy such as the attack on property is a clear and tangible example of an undermining of the paradise better-place that was promoted on the tin. But there is also that which is not tangible, an abstract sense of a falling apart, and it comes not because of financial investment so much as because of emotional investment. People want to love somewhere, to know that they have found their little piece of heaven. And so they have, until one day they wake up and realise it has all been a dream.

Any comments to please.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Andrew, an absolutely stunning summing up of what is inside so many heads at the moment. Brilliant. But oh so sad that it is true. Maria