Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer's Falling

The Catalan verb "caure" means to fall. Today in Puerto Alcúdia the summer is falling. "Cau l'estiu". How appropriate. The fall is, after all, just some days away. The summer falling, the summer ending, "Cau l'estiu" is the last opportunity for the kiddies and their families to enjoy the summer fun. It is a last opportunity at the command of Alcúdia town hall. Make the most of the last days of summer with activities for all the family. Until Monday, that is, when the teachers are on strike and the kids can go back to the beaches.

But if summer is falling for those of school age, what of the rest of us? Mid-September, and what remains of the summer season will gradually slip away. The death by a thousand cuts to the summer has already entered its terminal phase. I went to buy one of those refreshing lemon lolly-like things in a jolly paper cone wrapper at the local happy tourist supermarketette. I couldn't. The lolly was a victim of the cuts. Cut to stocks. Everything must go or not be re-ordered. Summer's falling.

As summer waves its goodbyes and morphs into autumn, the cuts will become deeper. Different stocks will be ordered: the brown paper, the whitewash, the binliners of facades to be obscured, covered or protected. And when the end does come, there is the wait, the long wait for regeneration and for the springtime re-emergence of the resorts with their distinctive styles and personalities but with changing casts of actors that each summer season brings. The resorts are like time lords. They remain the same being but alter their appearance each year, if only slightly. They are time lords constantly wishing to travel back in time to a golden age, neglecting the future. The Mallorcan two-season life cycle of life and death, of summer and winter, obscures the necessity for real regeneration, not pieces of cosmetic surgery that are applied when the beaches are empty, the hotels are closed and the binliners are wrapped around outdoor lights and pulled tight with metres of tape.

As with each end of summer, we will be plunged into the wintertime pastime of the blame game and the remedy game. With awful predictability, it comes around year after year. It is a game with the same familiar pieces on the board, forever being moved around in a circular motion and going nowhere. The unpalatable truth might just be that there is nowhere to go.

Yet, there is always hope, and with genuine regeneration there might be hope that summer will stretch itself, fore and aft. It is perhaps too much to hope that the bay of Alcúdia (or the smaller bay of Pollensa) could become a 365 nautical zone - there is the weather and there are sea conditions to consider after all - or a 365 any zone, but regeneration might, if only through some miracle of osmosis, spill from summer into winter.

Regeneration is a familiar theme for Mallorca's politicians. The tourist resorts will be regenerated. With the exception of two, and we know which ones they are because we are told often enough, regeneration exists only in the minds of these politicians. Indeed, it is hard to envisage what it might entail. A tourism zone such as Alcúdia's is crying out for regeneration, but what could it be and who would ever fund it?

One has to conclude that this regeneration will remain largely cosmetic and largely piecemeal. There is a strategy for the bay of Alcúdia - yes, there really is - but it is one which mainly comprises the proposed cycling lane plus some more trees and lights. And consider where we are at with this cycling lane. A grand strategy it may be, but strategies are best developed if you know what the tactics and operations are in advance. Currently, there is no decision as to who funds it and, more importantly perhaps as the money will be found, is the fact that any planned starting date has been put on hold because a technical report is awaited which will set out what the building requirements might actually entail. Anyone who knows the main road along the coast will be aware, as an example, that there is a bridge which crosses the Albufera canal. It is barely wide enough for two lanes of traffic let alone a cycle lane. 

Surely these building requirements could have been foreseen, as the bridge by no means represents the only challenge. It all seems cart before horse, but perhaps this is indicative of all talk of regeneration. There is some vague strategic notion but precious little practical consideration.

So, summer's falling, as every summer falls and will doubtless continue to fall. It will fall into October at the end of which the few remaining hints of there having been a summer will finally admit defeat. Winter will begin, as winter always begins, with a holiday and with the day of the dead. How terribly apt.

No comments: